Jane's salon and the Senate race

Earlier this year, each of the leading US Senate candidates visited Jane's Salon, a political meeting hosted by my wife each month. Lewis, Cunningham, Marshall, in that order. At last night's meeting, the Salon had a straw poll (not a secret ballot) on the race.

Cal got seven votes. Elaine got six and a half. Ken got one half of a vote. (Half of those attending didn't want to declare publicly.)

Cal was favored among men, and those for whom environmental issues were a priority. Elaine was favored among women and among those looking for a proven public servant. Everyone said good things about Ken, except for across the board doubts about his electability. One person argued that Elaine's position on Afghanistan may not play well in North Carolina.

There was a quick discussion about primary voting strategy. Vote for the person you think can beat Burr, vote for the best ideological match ... or hope they're the same candidate. No consensus there at all.

The only candidate I've given money to is Lewis. It was my hope he could crack through, but that hasn't happened. Now I'm down to deciding whether to vote for him (and increase the risk of a run-off), or to choose between Cal and Elaine. With regard to the latter, I'm not sure which way I'd go, which is unusual for me. I typically make early and unequivocal choices. Am I alone in my indecision?


Great. There goes Cal's Blue Dog Cred.

I can see Burr's ad now:

"They gathered at a modernist lakeside ranch home decorated with painted gourds and bestrewn with subversive literature. They came from academia and the advocacy sector. Artists, writers... community organizers. The elite of the elite of the Chapel Hill liberal cocktail party scene.

They only came to do two things: eat weird cheese and anoint a Senate candidate. Well, it didn't take them long to finish the weird cheese...

And their choice for United States Senate?

"Cal Cunningham."


Too bad it could be close to the mark.

Same boat

We're in the same boat. My decision is between Lewis and Marshall.

Sorry James, it's a no brainer for me...

I want someone who can charge into the senate and get things done and someone who can beat Burr... that's Cal.

BTW, the Salon is great and I hope I can visit!

Elaine Marshall seems like

Elaine Marshall seems like the logical choice to me.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

It is my opinion that the

It is my opinion that the Senate race is much less important for the people of NC than keeping Democratic control of the GA. I know I'm beating a dead horse at this point, but I believe you'll share my opinion once we have a President Pro Tem Berger and Speaker Stam.

That being said, it looks as if the Dem nominee will either be crushed by Burr's money, or will be in the position to beat an unpopular incumbent in a year where incumbents are in trouble regardless of party affiliation. In the first scenario (Dem crushed by money), I think Cal does the most good for our home-state Democratic majority. In the second scenario (unpopular incumbent), Cal may look like more of the same and voters could stay home; however, Marshall is not the better choice if she will be running a cash-poor campaign that can't help statewide GOTV.

Lewis has to swing for the fences to win at this point. If he won't or can't, he's limited to two options: cause a runoff, or play kingmaker. Then again, turnout will be horrifically low, and an efficient campaign that spends resources wisely in districts with primary contests could be victorious.

When the NC-Sen primary is over, I hope those who supported a losing candidate will still do all they can for their local GA candidates.

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

No indecision here

My support of Cal sprang from an admittedly non-intellectual base, that he's a fellow paratrooper. It's one of those things that can't properly be explained, so don't ask me to.

Suffice to say Cal would have to have shown me something exceptionally bad (like Tim D'Annunzio has), or one of his opponents show me something exceptionally good, for me to have any doubts. And that hasn't happened.

My thought process

is that Ken, Elaine, and Cal are all fine choices come November.

But looking at the polls for the primary it has come down to Elaine or Cal. Elaine was best in the Public Policy Polls against Burr I saw about half a year ago, and is still better in a Burr now. Not only that, Elaine has gained more ground on Burr over that half year or so than have any of the other candidates. I'd also point out that Elaine got more votes than Obama, Perdue, or Hagan in 2008 - which I believe means she has bipartisan support.

Vote for the person you think can beat Burr, vote for the best ideological match ... or hope they're the same candidate.

I didn't start out in the Elaine camp, but I've ended up there, and I believe that she best fills those dual roles that we seek in a primary candidate. As I've said I'll support whichever candidate makes it through this primary, but I believe Elaine is both a strong choice on viability and on the issues.

It comes down to name recognition

Re who can beat an incumbent: I give no opinion on the candidates, only on NC politics -- this is North Carolina and, when you live in an area that is a bright blue blinking dot, it's easy to forget we're also talking about the great eastern expanses and mountain areas where there aren't as many progressives and the Dems are a lot more moderate. I don't think you can win a state office in NC without name recognition in those areas and a solid chunk of support, as numerous recent state races have proved. I've repeatedly seen progressives with very enthusiastic support in Chapel Hill/Durham, the Triad or Charlotte fail to win statewide primaries by a good 4 or 5 percentage points or more because they're only known in progressive stronghold areas.

It takes awhile for people in the more rural parts of our state to get to know a candidate or elected official's name and making up for a lack of name recognition via a campaign takes a long, long time. It's very tough and inefficient for political newcomers to make an impression quickly enough in these critical areas.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

I like Elaine

Her ability to make positive rational changes that benefit the 90% (those of us above indigency and below filthy rich) is proven. Ideals are good. Data is better. IMO

"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."