So much has been said and said again about the Hagan and Neal Senate situation that I felt it was important for me to put down, in one place, my opinion on the matter.
Let's start with the facts, nothing else. Here's the sequence of events:
1. DSCC recruits Brad Miller, Miller takes a pass.
2. DSCC begins recruiting Martin and Hagan.
3. Buzz develops around Martin, who becomes the DSCC's top choice.
4. Jim Neal announces his candidacy.
5. Hagan says she won't run.
6. Martin announces he won't run.
7. DSCC turns back to Hagan, who is interested in getting back in the race.
8. Neal visits the BlueNC community and acknowledges that he is, in fact, gay.
9. Hagan announces her candidacy.
Now, from these facts listed above, some have come to the conclusion that Hagan was pulled back into the race because party leaders feared that a gay candidate could not beat Elizabeth Dole. Obviously this can be nothing more than speculation, since we don't know what made Kay Hagan reconsider and get back into the race. Seems to me that there are a couple of possibilities here:
A = Hagan got back in the race because Jim Neal outed himself.
B = Hagan got back in the race because she sincerely had a change of heart about the best way she could serve her state.
C = Hagan got back in the race because, with Grier Martin out of the way, she could be the clear front-runner.
I’m willing to concede that A is entirely possible, but since there is absolutely no evidence to support the claim, I can’t accept it. Hagan would like us to believe B, and it’s possible that this is truly what happened. Only Hagan can know something like that. I suspect that the true reason that she got back in the race is a combination of B and C, but, again, we can’t know for sure.
So, since we cannot know exactly why Hagan made the decision that she did, we must base our conclusions on imperfect knowledge. My philosophy is generally to give all people the benefit of the doubt. Hagan is a distinguished, honorable public servant. She’s a loyal Democrat who has fought for working people, children, and seniors. I’m willing to accept her explanation because I don’t know her to be a bigoted or callous person. Ultimately, this comes down to how you think about the people involved, and perhaps how you think of the political system as a whole. If you’re like me, you think that the folks involved, like most politicians, are generally good (flawed) people trying to do the right thing. Ambitious, sure, but not by necessity amoral. If you believe that the people involved are simply cynical manipulators concerned only with personal prestige and power, you probably aren’t willing to give Hagan the benefit of the doubt.