Keep. It. Clean.

Can we PLEASE avoid the circular firing squad in this primary?

Burr, with his billionaire backers across corporate America, is going to be tough enough--and we NEED to replace him. Any of the three announced Democratic candidates would be light-years ahead of our current echo chamber for right-wing talking points.

I've endorsed Elaine in part because she has the kind of statewide experience and record of quality service that deserves our respect. That the DSCC has apparently never even seriously considered supporting her is a gross insult to all public servants who happen to be female.

At the same time, I will be delighted to support Cal Cunningham if he is our nominee, and believe he would make an outstanding senator for our state.

Anyone who understands the realities of modern campaigning in a state of nine million people knows that it's an exercise in futility to run if you don't have the financial resources to do it right. And Cal, a good young lawyer who has spent much of his time for the past decade in uniform for our nation, and who does not come from a wealthy powerful family, knew the unfortunate reality. He didn't have the deep personal pockets to run and win without the backing of sources like the power Dems in D.C. Don't jump on Cal for being realistic about raw political realities.

I got hammered in a statewide primary last year, not because I couldn't match up with my respected opponents in debate and discussion, but because I couldn't raise the cash to reach millions of voters effectively.

And while I have endorsed Elaine, I have to say to Thomas--cut out the trash talking. You're losing support for Elaine with every negative attack you launch on Cal.

Regarding the third member of the candidates triumvirate, Ken Lewis, I have nothing negative to say. I've met him and he seems like a good person with worthy priorities. I simply don't know him well enough to speak in depth or detail about him and his qualifications. If he can put together the resources and infrastructure to win this primary, then blessings to him.

Let's give all our Democratic candidates the consideration they deserve. Let's make it a point to see to it that our primary winner is launched into a successful run to reclaim that Senate seat for the people of North Carolina next year.


I look forward to seeing these great candidates

draw distinctions between themselves on policy and style in their campaigns. For once we have an embarrassment of riches to chose from and I'm thrilled that one of these good people will take on Burr next year.

I wish Cat Stevens was running

I would vote for him. It's such nice, simple, and ambitious messages in his songs.

Regarding Ken Lewis, he has served on the board of Self-Help for over a decade, and Self-Help has done as much as any (and more than most) to make the American dream a reality.

As far as the firing squad goes, the same entities that succeeded in defeating the grassroots campaigns of Dellinger, Besse, and Smathers are now working to elect Cunningham. When have the entitled and elite in our squad ever stopped firing at us?

Nice post Dan. I'm with you in supporting

Elaine Marshall. I can now add to my list of reasons the fact that she is NOT the candidate selected for NC from afar.

Hey DSCC, can you say "backlash"?

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

"Losing Support"

"You're losing support for Elaine with every negative attack you launch on Cal."

I have to agree with this. I considered all 3 in a dead heat for my vote until Elaine's people went on the attack.

Kenneth had a campaign launch event announcement on the same day that it started leaking that Cal was reconsidering and on the same day as Mr. Marshall's funeral.

And for Elaine's people to use that as an attack on Cal for being tasteless for having a leak, but not Kenneth who had a more official and intentional campaign announcement that day, seems like a political attack. I don't really fault either Kenneth or Cal, because 1) its the campaign season so announcements/messages will be frequent & 2) I just can't bring myself to believe that any of the candidates would use the funeral of another candidate's loved one just to be mean.

And now Elaine's people are questioning Cal's commitment to the people of North Carolina, rather than trying to challenge him on his track record in the state senate or over a policy disagreement has turned me off to her campaign a little bit.

I know attacking is the way of politics, but in an election season where the wind is at the republican's backs, we can't afford to create such deep divides in the democratic party that we wont be able to unite after the primary. And Elaine's early character attacking questioning his commitment to the people of North Carolina is the kind that will start creating divides and tearing the party down.

That said I think Elaine is great candidate, seems like a wonderful person, and I'd be happy to vote for her against Burr. But because of her early & non-policy based attacks I'm leaning more towards Ken or Cal.

Going Negative Record.
Ken - 0
Cal - 0
Elaine - 2

Until policy differences start becoming more prominent, my decision on who to vote for on the primary will be heavily influenced by who stays the lowest in non-policy based intra-party negativity.


The GOP's first press release on Cunningham was a similar criticism. If he can't handle it now in the primary, he certainly won't be able to handle it in the general.

Virtually all things against Hagan in the 2008 primary were negative attacks, and she did just fine. St. Neal of the Gays was nothing he promised, namely promising to be a self-financing fundraising machine (see post election FEC reports for leftover campaign debt) - and I say that as a proud mo.

I'm actually quite confident in the Cunningham team's ability to handle negative attacks, and I look forward to them showing their prowess. Because if they can't respond, then he's doomed to a Besse or Neal-like primary showing. I doubt that though. His team has some talented folks.

I already gave you Cal's (lack of a) LGBT record in the state Senate in a previous thread. Ignore this one if you will, but more distinctions among the candidates are sure to come.

Sharpen your swords and carry on, I say. The anti-incumbent feelings sweeping the nation makes for a good time go after House-then-Senate Burr.


What is a "mo" so I'll know what you're proud of?

(Guess I'm not hip on terminology.)

What I'd like to hear from the candidates is how they plan, if elected, to not be corrupted by suddenly becoming one of the "elite" in our government and how they plan to be actually responsive to their constituents.

I'm not going to get into a Neal vs. Hagan argument. That's over. OTOH, in my view Hagan has been a huge disappointment. Neither she nor her staff can manage to write a coherent / meaningful response to constituent letters ...just as a for example. Same for Kissell. I don't personally care which of three we elect...but my vote will go to whomever I think is least likely to be a weasel in disguise.

Stan Bozarth

Agree with most of your comment

"Mo" is slang for homo or sometimes just male homosexual. I'm afraid my age is catching up with me. It's a bit of an antiquated term, (right Uncle Festzer?)

A writer expressed an interest in the record of one of the candidates on LGBT issues. I provided it.

Where I part company on your post, is a consideration of the 2008 primary and primaries in general. Such a study is very instructive in how to win or to use primaries to your advantage in the general.

Further, for me, those claiming to want to "play nice" now are duplicitous at best, and naive at worst, about politics and their role in it.

I completely agree about Hagan and her staff's inability to get the respond-to-constituent letter machine going. My last communication to her was responded to more quickly than the previous, so I am seeing some small improvement on that front, but not enough. As far as her votes, for what I care about, she's been mostly on target - or as much as I expected - so not a disappointment.

Totally agree on this one:

I don't personally care which of three we elect...but my vote will go to whomever I think is least likely to be a weasel in disguise.

The two lawyers and their campaign teams in the race need to think about this point carefully.


Every letter written to Hagan comes back with the same reply:

Dear Friend,

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts and opinions. Since taking office, I have received an overwhelming number of calls and emails from North Carolinians like you who are ready to take an active part in our government. I appreciate each and every call and email. With our country facing some of its toughest challenges in a generation, your phone calls and messages are an important factor guiding my work here in Washington. Please be assured that we will get back to you as soon as possible regarding your specific concern.

I would like to take this opportunity to share my website with you. Please visit http://Hagan.Senate.Gov to find contact information for my offices and to stay updated as my new state offices open. You can also find information there about what I've been doing in North Carolina and Washington. It is an honor to serve as your United States Senator and I sincerely hope you will not hesitate to contact me at any time to share your concerns and voice your opinions on our country's most pressing issues.

One could write to her on any topic ranging from the probability of an alien invasion to health care to congressional ethics and get the same lack of substance in her reply.


Stan Bozarth

That is an automated reply module

I always get that response first too (quickly I might add) because it is automated.

The more topical response comes a few weeks later (too long in my opinion -- hello, interns!) but it is a letter about the topic I wrote.

Her staff should certainly hear this message more often and have boilerplate responses/communications on major topics ready to be sent.


What's ridiculous

Is that if the last 48 hours are any indication, this is going to turn into a nasty primary that's going to cost us a golden opportunity. A primary should be used to the advantage of the party. It should drive up positives and increase name recognition and expand the fundraising base. Primaries should not be divisive and negative. Those primaries (CA Dem Gov primary in 2006, or MS-01 GOP special election primary for example) put even the "winner" in a nearly unwinnable general election situation because the base becomes fractured. I absolutely love the way that Jon Tester and John Morrison ran the MT-Sen primary in 2006. They ran it clean, focused their negativity on Conrad Burns and he was ousted by Tester in the general. The primary got his name recognition up, got the netroots involved, and pushed him over the top.

I'm sick of this negative crap already. I want nothing more than Richard Burr to lose in 2010, but we are heading down a path towards not only his re-election, but a general that won't even be competitive.

negative crap

You get bad blood when you have the DSCC directly interfering in our state primary.

Cal Cunningham supporters should be repudiating the DSCC for dividing the Democratic party in 2010, instead they seem to be celebrating that corruption of democratic values.

It happens everywhere

In my above mentioned example of the great primary run in Montana the DSCC recruited Morrison. It didn't stop Tester from running a clean campaign and winning. The DSCC doesn't cause a division of primary voters and they don't endorse in competitive primaries. I think Cunningham was honest with his supporters when he told them, given the circumstances, he couldn't win. Ken Lewis and Elaine Marshall would be lying if they told their supporters that they could win this seat without receiving the financial backing of the DSCC. It's the ugly truth, but the truth nonetheless. The DSCC doesn't get a vote in the primary, the people of the state get to choose their nominee. I would be very surprised to see the DSCC dropping money on Cunningham if he can't win the primary first. I will never, under any circumstance, be ok with negative campaigning being used in a primary against a fellow democrat. I thought and still do think that Richard Moore would be a better governor than Bev Perdue, but I voted for Perdue because I was so turned off by Moore's negative campaign. If the primary election was held today, I would vote for Cunningham. I like what I have heard from all of the candidates, but he has been the one to stay away from negativity, so that earns him my early support.

Great comment

I've been struggling with my own thoughts about the primary, and have a long history of supporting underdogs who operate outside the machine.

Good food for thought.

I would like to second this part of the OP

"You're losing support for Elaine with every negative attack you launch on Cal."

A bit of tact, style and grace go a long ways. Attacks do not have to be wrapped in a snarl. Hopefully Marshall's press person will climb the learning curve a bit quicker from now on.

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

Agreed on Dan's post

I wonder if BlueNC is actually a microcosm of the sentiments out there with regard to the three democratic senate candidates?

One thing I've learned here now is that there appears to be a good amount of contempt for the DSCC, even though their support is an an unfortunate reality, as Dan has said.

I also agree with Jerimee that at the end of the day, North Carolinians will be the ones to choose our ultimate candidate.

I'm a Cal supporter and I am committed to "keeping it clean" here. Very interesting so far, though.

I do understand the DSCC points made here

I do understand the frustration by supporters of the various Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate that see Cal Cunningham being first choice by the DSCC over their choice in the effort to unseat Richard Burr in NC. He came into the fray after first rejecting the opportunity to run. He made statements that most definately looked like he absolutely felt that he was not committed to the effort before changing his mind. There is a lot of thought (and rightly so, I might add) that the DSCC made him an "offer he couldn't refuse" with support and money to get him to run. I do not know if that's true, but logic says it is now that I look at it. If that had happened with one of the other candidates, I would be singing the same tune Jerimee and Dan and you in some ways are singing here, James.

What is the resolution? Last week there were posts here that said that democrats in NC need to pick a candidate and support that candidate and do everything they can to try to get him/her elected in this race. And, much of the opinion in that regard was that even if someone's favored candidate didn't end up being the selection, we ALL need to support the winner for the better good of not only the party but of NC and the nation. I know it is "my guy" that is getting this supposed support, but if any of the other two (so far) outlast him, I'm going to be all about helping them beat Burr.

This kind of politics has been going on for ages, and that's been said here a few times as well. Cal is definately NOT what I would call the odds-on favorite in this race yet. Does he have an advantage now? Probably. But, again, despite what you've said, I still think we're North Carolinians and WE should pick who we want to represent us in the Senate.

I know, I know, call me naive. I understand what's being said. I agree with a lot of it. But, this is the never ending cycle of politics. The more I get involved in it, the more I realize how things work. Not condoning it, just "realizing" it.

I never saw this email

I never saw this email that Dan and Jake are referencing - can someone post it?

Um...four candidates I guess now?

From the Fay Ob political blog:

Nathaniel Cooper of Fayetteville and former state Sen. Cal Cunningham of Lexington said they will run in 2010. Both are Democrats.

Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, will seek his first re-election since he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

Cooper, who his 65, said his platform includes a “World-class education for all Americans”; job creation and retention; accountability and transparency in government; senior citizens rights and equal protection under the law and “taking care of our veterans.”

Cooper is 65. He served 17 years in the Army. In 2008, he ran for a statewide office, the Commissioner of Insurance, as an unaffiliated candidate. According to state records, he was unable to get the necessary 70,000 signatures to have his name appear on the ballot. He received 46 write-in votes statewide in the 2008 election. He said he has since switched back to the Democratic Party.

Cunningham, an Army veteran, said on his Web site: “Richard Burr was voting right down the party line with George Bush to bankrupt our country, send our jobs overseas and give away the store to the oil companies and the insurance industry.”

Where's the beef?

Is it just me or is there just FAR too much same-ole, same-ole rhetoric coming from candidates these days. I mean, republican/independant/democratic, why do we hear the same things from our politicians that they present as their "top priorities" while campaigning then see them doing anything but once they get into office. Oh, sure, I know there are examples that can be cited to the contrary, but exceptions most certainly do not disprove the rule.

Case in point is Nathaniel Cooper who tried to run "unaffiliated" saying his platform is:

“World-class education for all Americans”; job creation and retention; accountability and transparency in government; senior citizens rights and equal protection under the law and “taking care of our veterans.”

How many candidates include these things from ANY party?

It sure would be refreshing to see some different kind of rhetoric. Maybe I'm getting frustrated. Everything "political" these days seems to run together.

Interesting point

While at first (and second?) glance, Mr. Cooper would appear to be a fringe candidate, his platform is certainly Democratic cut-and-paste. Let's be honest...every candidate will say "jobs, jobs, jobs" with the occasional "health care" and "go military" thrown in there. And, as the old saying goes, we campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Asking "how" candidates will accomplish these things isn't "campaign-friendly." It'll be how the candidates present themselves, their personal biographies, and the way they conduct their campaigns and the people they surround themselves with.

As much as I would love a governing policy statement from candidates about what, where, when, and how, no one will play that game. And let's not pretend there was ever a Golden Age of policy discussions in campaigns (maybe Lincoln-Douglas). I mean "Tippecanoe and Tyler too?" Not exactly a platform with precise budget numbers.

True Phillip

I get so frustrated with politicians (ALL) because they seem to lose their focus and their honor in many cases "for the sake of politics". We seem to vote for people because of what they say or how they say it rather than what they actually do. I'm an advocate of "marriage rights" for everyone in our country and I'm someone that truly believes that honoring our returning war veterans means giving them health care and I honestly believe that "choice means choice". Yet, too many times we see politicians that say those issues are paramount in their beliefs (and/or platform) yet seem to be willing to "negotiate" those beliefs in order to satisfy some other agenda.

Yes, I know that's been political history for, like, EVER. Just saying that I'd like that pendelum swing back the other way.

Just rambling. Sorry.


Dan and Jerimee, absodanglutely.


If I could have convinced more slaves that they were slaves, I could have freed thousands more.

Harriet Tubman (1822 – 1913)

Lewis responds

As usual, Laura Leslie covers the ins and outs of US Senate posturing artfully, including these prepared comments from Kenneth Lewis.

"Today Cal Cunningham enters the race for U.S. Senate with these words:

'Right now, more than ever, we need someone who won't back down from the tough fights.'

But 26 days ago, Cal, that is precisely what you did -- you backed down from the fight. And you backed down because you “could not look” [your] supporters in the eye” and “show them how we win” or “what we do when we get there”.

26 days ago you couldn’t show Democrats how to beat Richard Burr. 26 days ago you couldn’t tell voters what you would do when you got to Washington.

These are your words Cal not mine.

Today you speak of your military training as informing your decision to enter the race:

'As a paratrooper I learned that when the mission is important, you can't allow yourself to be dissuaded by tough conditions or past injuries.'

Was the mission not important 26 days ago? Were the Wall Street investment bankers, health insurance lobby, and special interests in Washington not an important enough mission for you to take on 26 days ago? Was creating jobs and improving schools in North Carolina a mission not worth fighting for 26 days ago?

Today you say you are “eager to take on these battles”. 26 days ago you backed away from these very same battles.

People tell me all the time that this is the way it is - politicians say one thing when they get out of a race and another thing when they get back in. They tell me that voters don’t care why a candidate gets in or out - that this is inside baseball and I should let it go.

But I didn’t get in this race to let things go.

And I didn’t get in this race to play political games. I got into this race to offer North Carolinians committed and rock solid leadership on what I know matters most to them --jobs, security and stability, and a real chance to attain the American Dream of opportunity and prosperity. On this I have never wavered, and never will. That's the kind of leadership North Carolina deserves in the United States Senate."

Most people will never care about who got in when or how, but in the early stages of dividing up the activist base, it may matter.

Laura's Response:

Ouch. But will it leave a mark? We’ll find out about 5 months from today.

I wonder if non-policy based attacks will leave a mark? Keeping my scorecard going from earlier in this thread:

Going Negative Record.
Ken - 1
Cal - 0
Elaine - 2

Which has me leaning towards the Cal camp now. In the end I'm sure my decision will be made more on policy distinctions weighed against perceived viability against Burr, but until the candidates start making those kinds of real distinctions my leanings will be towards the candidate with the least intra-party non-policy based attacks.

I disagree

I think that was an issue-based statement. It was just as much Lewis outlining what he cares about as it was him questioning Cunningham's commitment to the race - which is a valid question that Cal knew he was going to have to deal with. MHO.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

email from Lewis campaign

I got the same email from the Lewis campaign and I asked to be taken off his list.

I'm fine with negative attacks

as long as they are hurled at Richard Burr. Why all the infighting already? Don't tell me why not to vote for other candidates, tell me why I should vote for you and why you'll be better than Richard Burr.


Such a GREAT post Game.

As said in the other thread

From our post:

  1. Invest in a vigorous field operation that empowers people to be a part of the process.
  2. Break from the politics and politicos that hurt our democracy.
  3. Demonstrate the courage to lead and inspire our fellow citizens.

If the campaigns are talking to voters one-on-one, they can't be negative - they're going to have to build up their campaigns with voters.

If the campaigns break from the politics of the past, we won't see the circular firing squads.

And if the campaigns and supporters stay out of the mud wrestling match, they will have a better chance to inspire the volunteers and voters we'll need to win the general election.