The Post-Dalton Power Paradigm

Walter Dalton's paid political consultants are almost certainly warning him off any direct engagement with his Democratic opponents in the race he's gotten himself into. What they weren't betting on six months ago is that the Lieutenant Governor's race would become the epicenter of a battle for the heart of the party that it's become. Where the smart money might have said that the LG's office was patronage for a party man, the recent media affection for this contest will ensure that this race will only get more energy intensive for all involved.

And I'll tell you, I don't see Walter Dalton walking away with an election that people are actually paying attention to.

So I'm predicting right here that by March the race for this nomination will not be about which of his challengers can come in second to Dalton and meet him in a run-off. I think it's going to be much closer than that, and that we'll see a run-off between two progressives.

The Independent Weekly runs a follow up story today on the article about the LG's race from 11/30.

It wasn't only the candidates' positions on the issues that prompted the Progressive Democrats of N.C. to endorse Dan Besse over Hampton Dellinger for lieutenant governor in the '08 primary. The two—and a third candidate, Pat Smathers—gave similar, "quite progressive" answers on their PDNC questionnaires, says Pete MacDowell, the group's president, and solid speeches at its recent annual meeting in Chapel Hill.

But the group preferred Besse, an environmental activist and second-term Winston-Salem council member, over Durham attorney Dellinger by a 56-16 tally; Smathers, the mayor of Canton in Haywood County, came in third with four votes.

"I think what it boils down to is the fact that Dan has walked his talk for a very long time," MacDowell said this week. "He's been in the trenches on poverty and environmental issues. He is an activist."

(Dellinger worked for) Mike Easley in the attorney general's office, and then as legal counsel to the governor, (which) means he "hasn't been as out there on the tough issues," MacDowell added. "Progressives are less confident about him since he's been in government most of his time, with a pretty conservative governor."

So there's the landscape according to a group of informed progressives. The folks who voted that day factored in biographies, resumes and extensive responses to a long list of questions. Then they heard the candidates speak in a forum that is the closest to a debate we've seen thus far.

For those of us who were there (and I'll BEG lofT and TrueMeckDem to chime in here, please) seeing Pat, Hampton and Dan speak in a responsive way, playing off each other and the audience, was truly exciting and informative.

If you haven't had the opportunity to hear these guys speak yet: Expect to have your expectations shaken. And don't expect Dalton to be the front-runner for long if he continues to sit this one out.

Comments

I'm sorry that weekend was one filled with family obligation.

I would have loved to have been there, and had originally planned on going.

I believe that this race is signaling a sea-change in Democratic politics in NC. This is one where the "little people" (no, BullyDoc, not Leprechauns) will really be making the choice, and it is because the candidates - at least most of them - are giving them the opportunity to get to know them.

*This* is what it's about.


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

Exciting times

in NC Democratic politics.

I choose to be inspired.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

My $.02

I think this will (if it hasn't already) come to a three way race: I think the "establishment" (I mean the 'rich' Dems in the Triangle) will see the writing on the wall and move any support they had of Dalton to Dellinger, since he's the "Raleigh" candidate. Besse and Smathers will compete for the rest of the state Dems, with Smathers picking up the more conservative Dems and being very competitive in the rural markets. Besse has a chance to have a better showing in minority communities and in the rest of the state, especially with "Democratic" Democrats. I'm sure someone smarter than me has looked at the last two statewide primaries in 2004 and 2000 to see what Democrats voted where and by how much, i.e. where candidates would be smart to spend their time and $$.

I think the money race will definitely make things very interesting ... since most of the $$ in 2008 would be going to presidential, gubernatorial, congressional, and Senate races (not to mention local and state races). I think every campaign, perhaps some more than others, will really have to run a real campaign, i.e. not an "air" war as I remember the 2000 gubernatorial campaign and subsequent statewide campaigns. We will have to see these candidates out on the hustings...

I think this race will certainly be a chance for us to define who were are as Democrats. Maybe not necessarily who we are TOGETHER as Democrats, but what we think in our regions, etc. Which I think is good and healthy.

So I think this will be a great campaign for our Party, perhaps unlike one we've seen in recent memory across the state. I think it's been great so far and will only get better...

I like Pete McDowell, but . . .

He has one thing backwards. Hampton Dellinger is no johnny-come-lately to Democratic and progressive politics. He's forty years old and has spent over half his life in Democratic politics. You can't doubt where he comes from because it comes from his parents, his upbringing and the results have been clear.

He's been as in the trenches as anyone - and actually has had to work the levers of power in Raleigh with Governor Easley. I know it is fashionable in certain circles to attack our Governor, but the man wins elections, and he wins them big.

Hampton was there for all of those campaigns and he was there for the governing AFTER the campaigns. It helps to know where the bathrooms are in the Administrative building, which LA to speak with to get a matter on an agenda, etc.

Furthermore - the vote of one of the myriad groups in this party will not determine the outcome. 67 people showed up for that meeting. That's a great turnout, but it's hardly a representative sampling of the democratic electorate. it's more likely a result of Pete McDowell lobbying his friends and colleagues. And thats fine, but let's not let Pete turn himself into some kind of kingmaker.

Now, as for this race - it's clear we have three progressives and one not progressive. That math usually results in a runoff between the top progressive and the not progressive.

Look at these candidates. Look at their resources and their strengths as candidates. Look at which best combines experience in Raleigh with progressive ideals. Look at how they perform on TV. Which will make the best candidate to carry the banner of the democratic party into the next decade?

Your choice. I've made mine.

"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

So true...

It helps to know where the bathrooms are in the Administrative building...

...that's where they keep the biggest mirrors!

Prog Dem meeting

I was there and enjoyed the speeches that were given but we have to look at the demographics of the audience before we extrapolate the results to the general progressive population.

A vast majority of the audience were white, middle class, middle age Triangle residents.

This is why I think the debates are so important. These debates will take the candidates out to the rest of the state and allow many more people to see the caliber of candidates that are out there. If a candidates does not show up, I hope this is pointed out to the audiences.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

Also true, True...

woe be to him whose message translates poorly to the non-white, non-middle class, non-Triangular amongst us!

(Thank you for responding to my request for your words, and for the pleasure of making your acquaintance at this event sir!)

Saw my first Lt. Governor sign on the road today....

Pat Smathers. I've seen some of Hamp's in town, but this was the first one I've seen out on the road. The bad news? It was falling apart.

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

Robert:

The funny thing is, one of Dan's issues here in Winston is the blight caused by inordinate signage... and true to his word, he's a stickler for removing his own campaign signs from the right away after an event.

Please forgive his campaign for the peculiarity of cleaning up after itself in this case...

Best to you, sir!

It was obvious to me that the majority

of the folks who came to the PDNC meeting were not only there to see the Lt. Gov forum that day but were also there to endorse someone and there is no doubt that that someone was Dan Besse.

I know why I support Dan... his energy, his experience, his commitment to environmental issues and health care and his desire to be in that elected position in particular, but he must be doing a good job of getting that across to people. I've never seen a group of Progressive Dems to agree on anything else that easily besides Dan.

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