Onward, the Besse-lution!

The conversation in the Lieutenant governor's race has turned to the topic of electability, as well it should. Some of us have gotten bogged down in the back and forth about Dellinger's fundraising while others claim that, regardless of how he came about it, that money makes Hampton the most electable progressive in the race.

Dan Besse will be elected Lieutenant Governor of NC

But there are other electability factors in play between my candidate, Dan Besse, and Hampton Dellinger. Let's have a look, shall we?

Besse vs. Dellinger:
 
The same Republican mud will be thrown at both.  But Dellinger is actually less able to defend himself effectively against the political charge of "radical/liberal" than Besse.
 
a) Because he has never held elected office, Dellinger has no public voting record items to point to--votes against tax increases, votes in favor of causes popular with culturally conservative voters (e.g., public safety items like fair pay for police and firefighters).  Besse has some of both--enough to help undercut the credibility of the inevitable Republican mud machine assaults.
 
b) Dellinger's financial base of support is demonstrably heavy with out of state support, an easy target for attack anywhere, and especially so in a culturally conservative state like NC. You think BlueNC has been rough on Hampton for taking all those California donations? Pittenger would clobber him. On TV.
 
c) Dellinger's background--his home base (brought up in Orange, lives in Durham, works in Raleigh), his education (all out of state), his profession (attorney), and his resume (worked as an advisor to Easley, as a Washington lawyer, and as a trial lawyer)--reads like the right-wing wish list of what they'd like to see in a Democratic candidate to oppose.  Those aren't reasons for us to oppose a candidate on his/her merits, but if we're honestly talking about "electability", they are real factors.
 
--Dellinger has no natural base of support outside the areas which will vote for any Democrat--the state's most liberal counties of Durham and Orange. 

--Besse's strongest home base of support is in a county and region that moves between leaning-Republican and battleground:  the Piedmont Triad.  Neither GOP Lt.Gov. contender is from there, so Besse will start with a home base advantage not available to any other Democratic contender (and certainly not to Dellinger).
 
--Besse has the strong advantage of active experience living and working (for a decade) in a poor, rural, eastern area; and the advantage of hands-on experience working with local issues and governance in a growing urban region.  The combination is a politically very saleable factor.  No other Lt.Gov. candidate has both. Dellinger has neither.
 
--Dellinger has more money.  That will be a factor in the first primary--but not much of one in the general election, since the Democratic donor and party base will pitch in to help any nominee for this important office who needs it.  Plus, many of Dellinger's in-state donors are natural Besse supporters, and can be expected to switch to him in either a second primary against Dalton, or in the general election.
 
In sum:  Dellinger is not more electable than Besse in the general election, but rather less
 
And if you like Besse better than Dellinger on the merits, then there is no reason not to support, work, and vote for Besse in the first primary.  Doing so will not increase the vote count or percentage for Dalton, and if Besse gets into the runoff with Dalton, all the progressive backers of the non-Dalton candidates will come together for him.
 
The pro-Dellinger "electability" argument comes down to just three things:  money, money, and money.  Progressives should support Dellinger because he has more money.

Progressives should support Dellinger because he has more money?
 
When that becomes the winning reason to favor a Democratic candidate, then our party is too sick to save.  As Sigmon noted in his excellent post, we're actually edging away from that terminal diagnosis:

Things are changing for the better in this arena, in that electability is mattering less and less. And that's a wonderful thing, something almost entirely the result of work by liberals, work that should continue.

This is the year, if there has ever been one, to take that great leap toward equity in our elections.

OUR elections.

Comments

You got me on the

"Smarter than heck" and "Good lookin'" factors. I will take this under serious consideration. Ha!

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Does the Sierra Club do statewide endorsements?

I hope the Besse campaign is working hard on securing that endorsement as well as the CPAC.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

OK, I'm a believer!

I really do believe we need to have people who put the environment as a high priority in government. It is already becoming an issue where people need to have expertise in the right jobs. I made out my check to the Besse campaign this morning.

Wonderfully written, Frank.

This piece is an eloquent statement as to why money isn't everything. The right experience matters. Dan has it.

Excellent.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Anyone remember 2000?

And if you like Besse better than Dellinger on the merits, then there is no reason not to support, work, and vote for Besse in the first primary. Doing so will not increase the vote count or percentage for Dalton

Alternately known as the Nader gambit. You can't really believe that splitting the progressive vote doesn't help Dalton... can you?

I'm no statistician, but splitting the vote doesn't have to yield more votes for Dalton to help him. It only has to reduce the votes for Dellinger and Besse.

In some ways it doesn't matter.

There are two points. GOTV of new voters for Besse, which helps keep Dalton below 40%.
The other point is that 61% of voters can split in any way, shape, or form for Besse, Smathers, and Dellinger and cause a run-off. At that point, what most people here have said is that they will rally behind the progressive that is facing Dalton in the run-off.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Not so fast...

Frank, here’s some info to set the record straight:

a) Dellinger has a strong record of public service, and has the ammo to counter Republican attacks—he was a tough prosecutor in the AG’s office and helped put dangerous criminals in jail, in the private sector he sued the state over unsound contracts that had led to government waste, to hit on a couple examples.

b) People would see through this run-of-the-mill, meaningless GOP mud-slinging.

c) Since when does experience at the highest-levels of the executive branch hurt a candidate’s electabilty? And as for Dellinger being a lawyer who has worked on trials and in Washington for a couple for short time, he would not be the first of that kind to be elected to a state-wide office. North Carolina elects lawyers (many with similar backgrounds); Dellinger’s being one could not possibly hurt him.

--“no natural base of support”? Dellinger has particular strength in the Triangle, Mecklenburg, New Hanover and is bringing on board more local champions every week. He also has a state-wide network of friends, colleagues, contacts and supporters. Everywhere Dellinger has campaigned he has drummed up serious support. There is no reason to think he cannot garner significant or overwhelming support in all 100 counties during the general.

--Besse is from the Piedmont Triad. That’s good for him.

--If so many of Dellinger’s in-state donors are ”natural Besse supporters,” why then did they give to Dellinger instead of Besse? Indeed, Dellinger is a strong fund raiser and would continue to raise necessary campaign money state-wide during a general election. It’s less certain other candidates could do as well.

The pro-Dellinger electability argument comes down to much more than fund raising.
-Dellinger has experienced the rigorous environment of the executive and would be off to a running start when elected, pushing the agenda of the people of North Carolina.
-Dellinger is an excellent communicator and can connect with Democrats, Independents and even some Republics in a general election
-Dellinger has the energy, enthusiasm and focus the electorate is looking for. He will breathe fresh air into an office that needs to serve citizens without playing constant politics with vital issues.

“family wealth and corporate lawyer financial support”— I’m surprised you would write such a baseless smear. It doesn’t make sense and just looks mean spirited. That’s what Dellinger’s candidacy is about??

How about:
Experience
Progressive policies
And, yes, electability

So you get all three. Hey, that’s not bad

well said

Very positive.

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

The prime directive...

Guys, I'm an influence hunting robot with one prime directive: Public financing for every election in this country and equal limited access to media for each of them.

In the meantime, my immediate goal is to undermine the influence of that nearly half a million dollars that the Dellinger campaign got from California and New York, the 200,000 dollars he got from his parents and the dough he got from Vector. If I have to do $700,000 equivalent worth of blogging and video making, I'm prepared to do that.

Mitt Romney was nearly the Republican nominee because of loose finance rules that on a state level are analogous to the ones Dellinger is taking advantage of here. And I appreciate that Hamp supports public financing...in the future...but SOMEBODY has to make an incessant argument FOR THAT REFORM NOW.

It isn't in money's interest to level the playing field. They won't do it until their boys start losing. If they want to blow the horn of electability from atop a mountain of bad cash, I am going to do my part to make sure that they pay dearly for every vote they buy.

Maybe I'm misreading this, but...

it looks like Dan has $54,000 in outstanding loans to his campaign.

Yet, you seem untroubled by this. As a percentage of total cash on hand, Dan's loans would seem to be greater, proportionately, than the loans from Hamp's family? So what's the basis for your "prime directive" causing you concern about the money Hamp has raised but not the similar types of funds Dan has raised? Let's just relegate this comment to loans, so we are comparing apples to apples.

Assuming that I have not missed the forest for the trees here (been known to happen to me), the inconsistency leaves a pretty big blind spot in your "prime directive."

see?

Positive takes from Dellinger fans, met by negativity and attacks from Mr. Eaton.

Par for the course, unfortunately.

Again, Frank, you make the attack on out of state money like it is inherently wrong. It isn't. A BROAD, nationwide network of friends and supporters is an asset, not a liability. Especially when it is supporting a candidate who has shown a clear and unquestionable dedication to North Carolina.

You have a good candidate, Frank. No need to be so negative.

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

the same could be said to you, DFL

The POINT is that public financing could end this mess.

Public financing SHOULD end this mess.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Exactly

But it hasn't yet.

And as long as you can raise significant funds within the bounds of the law, you should. Pittenger, by the way, has oodles of cash.

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

I agree with you on public finances

but, wow, you have to admit it's a little weird to see Frank attacking Hampton about out-of state money and loans.

Lets be frank, if Dan had that kind of money (from out-of-stater's or not, loans or not) he'd be pleased as a peach.

Plus, i agree with Dr.Frank: out-of-state support could help us. If Hampton's nation-wide network can bring more attention down the road to issues we have in NC (environment, labor, education, etc) i say more power to him. And let's be straight: these contributers are not cigar-chomping titans of big industry. They are mostly lefties who happen to have have some extra cash to give to a progressive candidate in the state of NC. Is that such a bad thing?

I made my feelings clear about out of district money

several weeks ago.

There is nothing illegal about it. There is nothing immoral about it. But in 2006, I saw my county taken over by the Pope circus with a whole lot of out of district money and now we're saddled with an idiot who is an embarrassment. Whether DFL or anyone else calls me provincial or not, I think that the ratio of out of district money to in-district money raised is pertinent to the race.

So no, I don't think it's weird to see Frank questioning (not attacking) this particular aspect of Hampton's campaign.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

point well taken

i can understand why you fell that way. I'm sorry about what happened in your district.

Between

Frank Eaton, Dr. Frank, and "being frank", that's a lot of franks, but I agree with you: if Dan had that kind money, he'd be pleased, and my strong suspicion is that there would be a heck of a lot less hand-wringing around here about the impact of money to boot.

Which gets to, in my opinion, what the hub-bub about out of state money is all about: advancing the political agenda of a particular candidate (as opposed to being about campaign finance reform, in general). Feels an awful lot like sour grapes.

I felt that way when I saw that Dan said NARAL made the wrong decision when it endorsed Hampton, too. There was no such blowback from Hampton when the Conservation Political Action Committee endorsed Dan. (Though that may be due to the questionable political advantage gained by being endorsed by a PAC...)

The Thing Is...

Assuming we are in play for the Prez primary in May, the likely voter turnout jumps up steeply. Some folks think maybe as much as double. Let's assume a jump of 80% or around 400,000 voters, for the sake of argument.

Now let's assume that those additional, say, 400,000 voters are not surfing BlueNC following every nuance of the race. They are likely less politically involved than most of the folks here. The probably scenario is that the additional voters are going to be moved to vote, not by GOTV efforts of LG campaign, but rather by the media blitz we are likely to experience from the Prez primary. The first chore will be to even get them interested in casting a vote below Guv.

Taking that set of facts, it would seem to indicate that having the money to achieve name recognition in a down-ballot race is going to be more, not less (as some folks have suggested) important than in other years. Only Dellinger has the financial werewithal to hang with Dalton on that front.

Now, the money is not the only reason by a long shot to vote for Dellinger. He's right on the issues, he's been dedicated to advancing Democratice causes for 20 years, and he is one helluva good guy. He doesn't get enought credit for that last, particularly around these parts, but he is truly one of the most decent, caring people I've seen enter politics in a long time.

Given all of that, there is no way, even if I were torn between Dan and Hamp, that I would gamble on a split to force a runoff.

You went out on a limb...way out

Now let's assume that those additional, say, 400,000 voters are not surfing BlueNC following every nuance of the race.

Bwahahahaha

Trust me. Our numbers are good, but they are NOT surfing BlueNC. :D



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I am

a master of understatement. :)

Turnout is likely to be the largest turnout we've ever seen

With the coming onslaught of Clinton v. Obama, Democrats in this state are going to be inundated with a TV war the likes of which they have never experienced in a primary.

And below Governor, the rest of the campaigns are going to have to fight for oxygen.

In Dellinger's favor is the breadth of his base and network. In Dellinger's favor is his work across the state for Governor Easley. In Dellinger's favor is his extensive network of friends in the Bar, across the state. And yes, in Dellinger's favor is his ability to go on the air with a real buy.

All of us, including me, who thought this was going to be the kind of primary campaign where a vigorous roud of stumping at party events would do the trick will have to recalibrate their expectations, because the circus is coming to town.

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

What he said.

Damn, DFL beat me to it and said it more succinctly. I hate that guy.

Well said, DFL.

that's why my clients pay me... oh, wait a minute..

back to work.

Blue NC is incompatible with billable hours.

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

You can say that again.

I had to quit my durn job because of this place.

Are you on the Facebook???????

then, join the Socnet movement for Besse.

Ten to One.

Each person need only be responsible for ten friends. Message ten of your friends and ask them to join the Besse group, to learn about Dan and his positions.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

D'oh

Stupid lack of web-based technical skills on my part.

Fixed.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Thanks!

I'll be all over this internets once I figure all the tubes out and stuff.

Hampton listens

That's why I like him. The guy can listen.

And he walks the walk.

and lends a helping hand (even to scooter-riding kids).

And really, if you can get the right positions on the right issues, with significant experience, impressive credentials, in a TV-friendly package AND fundraising success? What's not to like?

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

hey Frank E.,

i'd say Hampton is a pretty good lookin' guy, too, wouldn't you?

Yes, Hampton is beautiful

just like Mitt Romney.

hahahahahah

indeed. except in less stick-up-the-doopa kind of way. Hampton's hair is frizzy and unkept, Romney would never stand for that. Neither, for that matter, would our good 'ol John Edwards. ...but J's policies are much better so I can cut him some slack.

Are we doing the

good-natured teasing thing about the way candidates look now? I've got a mess of John Bolton mustache jokes just sitting around unused...

That mustache alone

should have told us he was trouble.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi