Please help me respond to Senator Martin Nesbitt

Like many of you, I received this email solicitation from Martin Nesbitt today. Though I have written to him several times, this is indeed the first communication I've ever received from the man, who happens to be the majority leader in the North Carolina Senate, representing Buncombe County.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing unusual about such hit-and-run solicitations. I get at least one a day from someone somewhere in search of contributions. But Mr. Nesbitt isn't just "someone somewhere." He's right here in North Carolina, and he's one of the top dogs of the North Carolina State Senate. And as far as I know, he's not once bothered to check in with this community, make a post or a comment, or even acknowledge that there are progressive Democrats in North Carolina. If my nose seems out of joint, it is. Mr. Nesbitt seems to think we all just fell off the turnip truck, including one sentence in his appeal that seems just short of laughable:

Senate Democrats pledge to continue standing up to special interests.

That said, he's surely right about us being six months away from a pivotal election. Which leaves me in a quandary about how to respond. Would you help in thinking this through? Please provide your guidance and thoughts in the comments. I'll plan to send his office a link to the post, with an invitation for him or his staff members to join in the conversation.

For those who want to contribute, here's the Act Blue link. If you do make a contribution, please consider adding 10 cents to your total to let Mr. Nesbitt know that you are part of the BlueNC community.

Here's his fundraising email/letter:

We are less than six months away from a pivotal election. The fate of North Carolina's future depends on state legislative races across North Carolina. All 50 state senate seats are up for grabs this year. A swing of just six seats would put the Republicans in control. The election is especially critical because the Party that is in power after these elections will be in control of redistricting at both the state and federal level. If Republicans are successful in 2010, they could quickly erase the gains and progress made by Democrats in recent years while setting themselves up for a decade of control.

We can't let that happen. Can you contribute $5, $10, $25 or $50 dollars to help ensure Democrats protect their majority in 2010?

It is important to know what is at stake this election. Democrats' priorities have been consistent and clear. We have worked to improve public education, create jobs and protect the environment. Senate Democrats pledge to continue standing up to special interests. We go to work each day trying to find new and innovative ways to put average North Carolinians back to work. That's why we passed tax cuts for small businesses and increased funding for job training programs at local community colleges.

The Republicans simply have different priorities. They voted against tax credits for small businesses. They voted against funding our community colleges. The GOP even suggested the state should fire teachers. Just a few weeks ago Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger crowed "Protecting teachers is not the same as protecting education."

Berger's take proves he just doesn't get it. Firing teachers would force schools to increase class sizes and cram students into classrooms like sardines. These are not the priorities that have made North Carolina great. We must work to ensure Democrats retain control so that North Carolina continues to move forward.

With your help, I am confident we will once again put together a winning campaign effort. I thank you for your continued support of the North Carolina Senate Democratic Caucus.


Senator Martin Nesbitt
Majority Leader



BlueNC has a long history of people coming around in search of money and support ... and then leaving the community behind once they've been elected. Larry Kissell is the most egregious of the offenders, truly a horrid example of hit-and-run politics. But there are many others. I guess they think we're stupid, and maybe we are.


Act Blue wouldn't take a 10 cent donation

So I gave the minimum, $1.00. If I did use facebook and twitter this would be a good protest campaign to use them for.

Thanks, loftT

I did $10.10

Note to Mr. Nesbitt: I might just as easily dropped the decimal point.

Thanks for the suggestion about FB and Twitter. I wonder what would happen if Nesbitt's campaign received a ton of trivial contributions as a demonstration of progressive interest laced with skepticism.

James, I would definitely ask Senator Nesbitt

to please give us some detailed examples as to when and where the Democrats stood up to special interests, and then detail a few examples of where they have completely been in bed with the special interests. Just saying that you take on special interests and win isn't enough, Senator Nesbitt. Some details, OK?

If he would like to take the time to answer these questions here and then lay out how the NC Senate Democrats plans to not bow down to special interests in the future, I am sure there are a number of us that are just stupid caring enough about the future of our lovely State to contribute to his cause.

Quid pro quo, Senator.

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

Thank you

A great question. I've searched my brain for an example of standing up against special interests and can't find one anywhere. Perhaps I'm misinformed?


To the conspiracy theorists out there

Be not alarmed. James and BlueNC are most definitely the same person. I try to do housekeeping posts (open threads, for example) as BlueNC, but sometimes forget to log out and then log back in.

Sorry about that.

I even went so far as to check teh Google

and came up with zip. I think this question needs to be answered.

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

I'm very proud to see this virtual community

...holding elected leaders accountable.

As you know, I've been greatly concerned about accepting GOP-lite because they're "better than the other guy"

This post is very heartening.

To the point of the post, I would ask Senator Nesbitt -- and Senator Stein and Senator Clodfelter -- why they killed Senator Atwater's small amendment to the broadband bill on the Senate floor.

Senator Atwater withdrew his amendment, but only after the so-called progressives urged him to do so. So disappointed in Josh Stein.


I'm not from Missouri,

but they still need to show me. Especially when they make this claim:

We have worked to...protect the environment.

I'll tell you what they have shown me along those lines: Efforts to keep municipalities and State government environment officials from placing restraints and/or taxes on real estate developers; attempts to erode or ignore Federal and State rules that control toxic emissions from industry; steps taken to block the use/growth of wind energy (Senator Nesbitt being a champion of such); and the watering-down of our REPS initiative.

I am concerned about this upcoming election, but I'm equally concerned that the Senate Democratic Caucus can't even recognize regressive individuals within its own ranks.

I'd spend some serious money ..

... if I saw Berger in a dunking booth. Jerk.

"Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger crowed "Protecting teachers is not the same as protecting education."

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

Because progressives don't matter to mainstream politicians

I would be interested to hear from posters if they could name any races that Dems have won in this state that wouldn't have been won without "progressive" support? I can name a dozen that progressives have pushed hard that didn't come close to winning.

Progressives simply don't matter to politicians who have to pander to the middle to win.


This is an all but red state. We turned "blue" in 2008 solely because of Obama's campaign organization. It was wonderful, it was delightful, but it wasn't an indication that NC has changed that drastically since 2004. Whether or not that constituency can be mobilized again in 2012 remains to be seen, but I have very strong doubts that we'll get the turnout we'd need in 2010 to maintain a true blue status. We'll be lucky if we hang on to the house and senate in NC. And yet we have people insisting that we'd teach those bad boy conservative dems a real lesson if we didn't show up at the polls! Right. Very smart. You'll show that bad ole face by cutting off that upturned nose, won't ya?

I tend to agree with you

For now.

The reality you describe is in a state of flux, however, with changes occurring in the margins and around the edges, and with large demographic trends in population and migration tending toward many more unaffiliated voters - and a slide toward the center. In that changing world, the Democratic party's incestuous alignment with corporate and land-developer interests is a long-term losing proposition, partly because it carries the perception of corruption, and partly because it is indeed a corruption of due process and open government.

In the near-term, however, the battle takes place one issue at a time and one person at a time.

Each of us has our own decisions to make about how we vote and whom we contribute to. On the contributions front, Democrats put at risk some of their most active fundraisers and advocates when they ignore progressives. Several of my friends who held four or five fundraisers for NC elected offices in 2006 and 2008 are redirecting their efforts this cycle to either national sustaining campaigns or to non-profit activities. Several are simply sitting out. They're demoralized by what's happening in Raleigh and are putting their energy into places where they think they can make a difference. It may not be logical (or it may be) but it is reality. I personally held nine fundraising events in 2006 and 2008. This year: zero.

On the voting front, 99% of progressives will vote in every cycle as a matter of civic responsibility, but many, many more people will not. That too is because they are demoralized. The words "stand up to corporate interests" in a campaign ad or fundraiser ring hollow, meaningless language designed only for optics.

I have one good friend, a more rabid Democrat than I, who thinks the party will do just fine in 2010 ... but who wishes in her heart that they would lose the NC Senate. It's her belief that it will take that kind of jolt to get the North Carolina Democratic Party to wake up and take seriously the environmental, fairness, and ethical issues to which they are currently giving only lip service. I'm not sure I agree with her assessment, but then again, I might.


...Democrats need to hold on to the NC House and Senate with the ten-year gerryman...uh redistricting coming up.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

The "Obama campaign" myth rears its head again

Instead of just looking at 2008, let's look at 2006 as well.

In 2006, the NC House went 68-52 Democrats, the NC Senate went 31-19 Democrats.

In 2008, the NC House went 68-52 Democrats, the NC Senate went 30-20 Democrats.

In 2008, the change in the Council of State was 1 seat.

Where was Obama and his vaunted campaign in 2006? Nowhere.

Big yawn on the difference Obama made in 2008. Got the State Auditor, lost a seat in the NC Senate.

In fact, a good argument is made (in NC and elsewhere) that Obama leading the ticket cost votes in some districts just as it added votes in others. For better or worse, identity politics cuts both ways.

If you want to keep reelecting a DINO like Rep. Crawford, be my guest. I won't be a part of it. You'll note how the GOP studiously avoided running someone against him in a year when they had no trouble finding candidates.

To answer another question upthread (again), progressives are part of the base and therefore matter to every election. When your base doesn't show up, you lose.

Democrats don't beat Republicans by trying to out-Republican a Republican.


No word from Nesbitt

I wrote to him again this morning:

Senator Nesbitt.

On the outside chance that you haven't been made aware of our discussion of your recent fundraising letter, I'm writing to invite you visit BlueNC, where you letter has already been seen by more than 400 progressive readers. By the time this week is out, that number will top 1,000.

I encourage you to spend a few minutes sorting through the comments. I also encourage you to make your own comment on the site, something that carries at least the illusion of responsiveness.

Plenty of my progressive friends would like nothing more than to be sustaining supporters of Democrats in the North Carolina Senate. But with all due respect, you're going to have to engage our growing ranks with something more than hit-and-run fundraising appeals.

Thanks for all you do.

James Protzman

Feel free to do your own outreach. Mr. Nesbitt's email address is