Monday, April 09, 2012

New Letter to the Editor tool

I have been working hard building a letter to the editor tool at my new home, Democratic Muse. I enjoyed this blog while I was active and maybe I should post here periodically - or cross post important pieces.

However, for now, I just want those who stumble across this blog to know that there is a great new tool for North Carolinians to reach out to the editorial pages of 87 different newspapers in the state.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Introducing NC Politico

After almost two years blogging under the pseudonym, The Southern Dem, I've decided to post under my real name. I've also decided I want a bigger tent so some of my friends can join me in the blogging fun. I will keep The Southern Dem here as archives, but new posts will show up at NC Politico.

Come on over and register. Join in the fun. We're slowly but surely getting up and running and would love to hear from you.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Don't Count on DCCC to help Kissell

A few days ago, Larry Kissell wrote a diary on DailyKos titled No Confidence in Politics as Usual. Tucked away in that diary was this little morsel:
The Washington folks seemed shocked that we recently polled and it showed my opponent is in big trouble and the district agrees with me that we've had enough.
That's right. There's a poll. Unfortunately, I can't get my hands on it, but what I've heard so far is that Robin Hayes is in more trouble than he's ever been in and Larry Kissell hasn't lost momentum. From what I hear - and I promise to produce the poll if it is ever released - on the uninformed poll question, the two candidates (Kissell v. Hayes) are neck and neck.

Hayes appears to be operating out of desperation if the tone of his fundraising letters is any indication. A commenter in the above mentioned diary had this to say:
I know Larry Kissell, supported him in his last run, and am proudly supporting him again. He should have won in 2006, and would have won with only a few dollars more. It was a hard call for the NC Democratic Party, but a wrong call not to get Larry the funds he needed.

Yesterday, I received a letter at my Durham, NC home from Robin Hayes, whom Larry is running against. I haven't read the letter, but on the face of the envelope was this message "On Election Day the Democrat Party and the anti-military came within 327 votes of defeating me. Now they're back to finish the job. My friend, I need your immediate help..."

Democrat Party, anti-military; do you have any doubt that Robin Hayes would resort to fascist tactics to hold his seat? Mr. Hayes, it is the people of North Carolina that are back to finish the job or removing your vile, contemptible ass form the halls of our Congress!

Please help Larry get this job done!
Hayes, is wrong, though. It wasn't the Democratic Party or MoveOn that almost beat Robin Hayes. It was high school Civics teacher, Larry Kissell. He was just a few votes and a few dollars short of winning. One mailer in Mecklenburg County could have made the difference - a mere $5000 would have easily paid for that mailer. Money Rahm and the DCCC sent to a variety of campaigns - many of them losing efforts with much larger margins than this pure grassroots/netroots campaign.

I've read comments on diaries and there are assumptions being made that Larry Kissell will be the DCCC's first red-to-blue candidate. I don't know about you, but I'm not banking on that. I know Larry isn't. He and his campaign have fundraisers planned every week throughout the state. Most of them are small dollar affairs. North Carolina's 8th District is full of people who can give their time, but their wallets are empty.

There was recently a very successful event in Chapel Hill and events are coming up in Albemarle and Concord. I will report back on the Concord event next week as I will be attending.

Many in the progressive online community supported Larry Kissell financially last cycle and he's going to have to count on us again. Folks at BlueNC, DailyKos, MyDD and Firedoglake - just to name a few - gave Larry strong financial support. He needs us again. In his words:
I'm not a rich man and I will never match my opponent dollar for dollar, but with your help, if we start now, we can put all of our small voices and dollars together to have a big voice on election day.
Robin Hayes has a net worth of over $55 million. He has the power of incumbency, contacts with corporate PAC donors and gets hundreds of thousands from Republican candidate leadership PACs. Larry has us.

I'll post several times between now and the end of the quarter asking for your help for Larry. I wouldn't do it if I didn't believe in Larry Kissell. I met him about 14 months ago and I was swept away - not because he said things I wanted to hear, but because his humility, honesty and integrity are right there in the open when you meet him. Fourteen months later, I still feel the same way.

Please give if you can. Here is a link to my ActBlue page. Here is a link to the Kissell ActBlue page and this will get you to his website in case you want to go with Paypal or snail mail.

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Debunking those NC Republican Talking Points

Those of you who read Anglico's post and comments at BlueNC found at this link are familiar with a couple of the new talking points the NC Republicans are using as cover for their inability to answer a direct question.

From Larry Brown:
In all due respect, North Carolinians voted for 35,000 votes more than the Democrats. Democrats won because of gerrymandered districts established by confessed felon Democrat Speaker JIM BLACK.
From Ruth Samuelson:
thanks for your concern.m As an FYI, there were more votes cast for Republican legislators than Democrat in the last election. What you see now is the power of the gerrymandering that former Speaker Jim Black put in place.
From Nelson Dollar:
Interestingly enough the citizens of the State of North Carolina did elect a Republican majority to the House and Senate in 2002, 2004 and even in 2006.


Also, not to belabor the point on gerrymandinger (sic); however, if you look at the votes for the N.C. House hear (sic) in Wake Co. in 2004 you will find that more voters cast ballots for Republican House candidates than Democrat candidates even when you discard all of the votes for Jeffery's and compare an even number of D and R candidates. To quote Al Gore this may be an "inconvenient truth."
Holy crap! This is the most moronic load of horse manure I've heard in a very long time.

What, is there some kind of new vote sharing plan they think we should implement? Did any Republican not win election who received more votes than his Democratic opponent? Am I missing something?

Maybe they just haven't done the math. There were 30 Democrats who ran unopposed and 33 Republicans. The average vote total for a Republican running unopposed was a little over 12, 820. Those three additional Republicans account for about 38,000 votes.

So, the North Carolina electorate didn't vote for a Republican majority, they simply had more Republicans to vote for. I know this is a fairly complex concept for these Republican legislators to understand, but if they are going to have their brains anywhere near the state budget and other important aspects of governing, it would be nice to know they are capable of grasping complex issues.

And.....what the heck is this gerrymandering mess? Have Republicans even looked at the district map or registered voter data? Do they know how many of North Carolina's 100 counties have a Democratic majority? Do they know that as of last October Democrats had over 600,000 more registered voters in this state? Apparently not. Democrats enjoy a majority in 70 of North Carolina's 100 counties. That's right. Seventy, 70, seven zero. It doesn't matter who the speaker was during the last redistricting, it doesn't take gerrymandering to come up with a majority of Democratic districts when that many counties account for over 600,000 more Democratic voters. Actually, it's probably more of a challenge to come up with Republican districts.

I'm feeling a bit visual today, so why don't we look at some maps.

NC House District Groupings (Click for a large PDF version)

There are a few unusual looking districts among them, but without knowing the concentrations of D's and R's you don't know if these are evidence of gerrymandered districts. I could bore you by going district-by-district but I'd rather show a couple more maps.

Let's look county-by-county at registered voters. Here is a map of North Carolina showing counties with a Democratic majority (blue) and Republican majority(red). [click to see a larger version]

Wow, that's a lot of blue! That doesn't mean they all vote with their party, of course.

Now, take a look at the congressional districts colored in to show where there is Democratic representation and Republican representation.

Hmmmm. I see some pockets of blue in Republican territory and some pockets of red in areas with a majority of registered Democrats. Gerrymandered districts? Districts drawn to comply with the North Carolina constitution? Districts drawn to comply with the voting rights act? Hmmmmm. Maybe I'm just too dense to see it. Anyone care to help me out?

Finally, I just have to say something about their lack of comfort with the English language. It isn't the typos, incomplete sentences or creative spelling that lead me to say this, it's their amazingly childish use of the word "Democrat" instead of the proper adjectival form "Democratic". Honestly, if they're going to call us names don't you think they could come up with something a little more creative? That just plain makes them look ignorant. Why anyone would make themselves look any more stupid then they obviously already are is beyond me.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Whining Wingnut Hypocrisy

How many times are we going to have to call those whining wingnuts ( for those who aren't into some innocent name calling) on their hypocrisy? They make it so easy for us when they send out press releases or blog about it themselves.

Someone at BlueNC linked to this blog where we could find pictures of the recent Civitas meeting. You know, the one Heath Shuler attended.

I plucked up my courage and waded into the deep goo of the far right. Here's the less-than-gushing review of Elizabeth Dole's speech by conservative blogger Dean Stevens:
The Keynote speaker for the evening was Senator Elizabeth Dole. She delivered a good speech but it seemed more rehearsed than extemporaneous. It covered all the standard talking points for conservatives, however one interesting statistic was included. Low income families in America receive $22,000 plus in benefits each year, but that number is dramatically reduced if the family has workers. Government still punishes work.[emphasis added]
Riiiight. Please, you know this guy wouldn't line up to cheer on the government if we didn't reduce benefits once someone moved into a better financial situation. Have you heard the one about how liberals give the poor so much it discourages them from getting jobs? Uh huh. Thought you had.

This comment stuck with me and yesterday, I found a News 14 blog post by Tim Boyum dated January 31, 2007. It gave a rundown of the activity in the NC Senate regarding the push for a refundable state EITC (earned income tax credit).
... Wednesday, several groups and lawmakers pushed for a state earned income tax credit. Interestingly newly elected House Speaker Pro Tem Representative William Wainwright spoke on behalf of Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue. Not long after, State Treasurer Richard Moore sent out his own release in support of it. Both are considered Democratic hopefuls for the Governor's mansion. Republicans also put in their two cents against the EITC shortly after.[emphasis added]
Um, OK. A refundable state EITC does what? It rewards moderate and low income workers. You must be employed to qualify for the credit. It is refundable because many of the people who qualify still have such a tenuous financial situation while holding down multiple jobs that they don't have taxes due come April 15. They don't need another credit that serves no purpose other than to reduce taxes they do not owe.

A refundable earned income tax credit rewards workers. Plain and simple.

Boyum was kind enough to print the press releases he had received regarding this issue. Let's just skip on down to the one sent out by a Republican.
From Republican Senator Eddie Goodall:

Democrat (sic) legislators today unveiled a plan highlighting bills entitled “Rewarding Work Tax Credit,” which is touted as tax relief for working families. Both the Senate and House companion bills would allow 5% of the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for North Carolina workers, effectively creating a North Carolina version of the Federal EITC.


“The suggested EITC bill sounds nice, but has a serious flaw. Of the $65 million, only $6.5 million would be tax relief, while the other $58.5 million would be a cash subsidy or a welfare transfer due to a problem in the bill.

“Because this allows any excess over and above an individual’s North Carolina income tax to be refundable, it means even after a taxpayer pays no North Carolina income tax, they would get a bonus paid for by everyone else. Instead, we should take the $58,500,000 windfall and provide a true tax break to hundreds of thousands who, under the Democrats’ version, would see no tax relief at all.
Y'all know what he's saying, right? Goodall thinks we should take from the poor and give to the "everyone else". It looks like he's all for the state EITC as long as the "windfall" is distributed to everyone but the working poor.

The state EITC would help those families where mom, dad or both have day jobs, night jobs and weekend jobs. They've had taxes withheld. They pay into the system just like everyone else. If their tax bill is zeroed out it isn't because they've found some nifty shelter in which to hide their money.

We're not talking about a huge amount of money per family, but to some it is the difference between treading water or being able to lift themselves out of poverty.

Who wouldn't want to see families working their way out of poverty?

Those Republicans are some greedy selfish bastards, aren't they?

Monday, April 30, 2007

Tax Reform Delayed in NC

Inspired by what I learned at the rally for a state earned income tax credit held by ACORN and Working Families Win a couple of weeks ago, I've been trying to pay closer attention to news about our local and state taxes here in NC.

I was a bit surprised to find out that a panel of business and government leaders, charged with making tax reform recommendations to the legislature, has decided to delay passing along their conclusions. I don't know how long this panel has been working on the issue, but when I see that they are trying to lift the Medicaid burden from counties and shift the tax burden off our working poor, I'm not happy with the delay.

WRAL had this on their web site, last night:
The commission was asked to consider how to retool the state and local tax systems as North Carolina has moved from a traditional manufacturing economy to one that relies more on services and Internet-based sales.

Two weeks ago, commission members said their top priorities for tax reform included eliminating the counties' share of Medicaid expenses and reducing both individual income and sales tax rates while expanding what could be taxed.
Basically, the panel is looking at taxing services in North Carolina to help broaden the tax base. Some on the panel think only certain services should be taxed, while others think fairness requires all services should be included if any are taxed at all.

When it comes to easing or eliminating the amount that counties must pay for Medicaid, the panel isn't sure whether money is available to remove this burden from all counties or just the poorest of the 100 counties in the state.

The panel has also said that low income residents could see the amount they pay in taxes eased or eliminated through an increase in the standard deduction. Good, but not good enough. I didn't see any discussion about a state EITC. This delay by the panel might give groups pushing the tax credit for the working poor a chance to be heard before a final decision is made.

It's an interesting piece and I'd like to know more about the panel.

In my research I was surprised to find this little morsel by Jack Betts from last year. It's hosted by the NCSU Institute for Emerging Issues and curiously enough Betts says that tax reform doesn't appear to be a priority for Easley or his staff.
The mere mention of tax reform seems only to drive the governor - or at least his staff - up the wall. It's a good topic to mention if you want to see some serious eye-rolling in the governor's office.
Hmmmm.... Do you think that maybe the panel wasn't feeling a sense of urgency from the state's top CEO to complete this task?

Or maybe, they simply had a hint that this news was about to break:
Legislative leaders received more good news about North Carolina's financial picture Monday, learning the state has $260 million more than had been expected in its coffers from April tax filings.

The extra money means North Carolina has brought in $1.1 billion more than anticipated through the first 10 months of the fiscal year, giving budget-writers more breathing room in forming a two-year spending plan that begins July 1.
Excess cash and lots of it. I'm thinking now isn't the time to back away from reform. Now is the time to find the way to ease the medicaid burden on counties, broaden the tax base and eliminate the undue tax burden on the working poor.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Congressional Democrats Come Through for NC's 8th District

It's a well-known Robin Hayes campaign stunt, going from town to town carrying a giant blank check that he can fill in and erase at will to show his audience how much pork he plans to deliver to their county. This past campaign cycle, Hayes made more campaign promises than he and his fellow Republicans were prepared to deliver.

After the November elections while they still held the majority, the Republicans intentionally chose to leave Washington without passing the final spending bills. The very bills that would have allowed Robin Hayes to keep all those giant promises to his constituents.

Instead, Hayes let those giant checks turn into failed giant promises. He and his fellow Republicans intentionally didn't deliver. At first Republicans in the two houses of Congress blamed each other.
Kingston (R-Ga) said the blame rested with the Senate. The House had passed all 11 appropriations bills by last July and sent them to the Senate, which then passed its own versions, on which House leaders say senators were unwilling to compromise.

"The Senate got into a trap of inactivity,'' said Kingston.

Senators say they passed the money bills by August and blame the House.
Not long into the new year, Robin Hayes decided to blame the new Democratic majority. In an article from The Charlotte Observer [Sun. Feb. 4, '07]:
The biggest insult of all is that the new congressional leadership cut our local projects while boosting foreign aid," Hayes said in a statement. "I think that was a display of bad priorities.
Blaming someone else for his failures is not something we'd expect from a wealthy, powerful man, but that's what we have in Robin Hayes. So much for personal responsibility.

After the CAFTA debacle, you'd think Hayes would be shy about making promises he wasn't flat-out, completely, horizontally prepared to keep. Heh. You would be wrong.

Who didn't get what was promised? Stanly County was a double loser. According to the Stanly County Press:
The Albemarle-Stanly County Airport and Stanly County Water Authority will not be receiving funds thought to be earmarked by Congress.

The airport will not have $1 million set aside in an appropriations bill passed last June. The new water authority will lose $500,000.
Cabarrus County was another big loser with money missing that was critical to the development surrounding the new North Carolina Research Campus. According to the Independent Tribune the total amount of promised funds that fell through for Cabarrus was $3 million.

All is not lost, though. The new Democratic leadership in Washington is coming through with critical funding for county water infrastructure for both Cabarrus and Union Counties.

Robin Hayes' mouthpiece, Carolyn Hern, says it's just business as usual, no big deal, something congress does every two years.

I almost believed her until I saw how hard Julia Oliver of the Charlotte Observer worked to show that Robin Hayes should get credit for requesting this from the Democratic leadership. It turns out the Union County manager has been talking with Hayes about water infrastructure needs since 2000.
The designation came out of discussions that have been going on since 2000 between Hayes, the county manager's office and the county's Public Works Department, Hern said.

Putnam refuses to speak with the media by telephone and only answers questions in writing. She said in an e-mail Wednesday that she has discussed the county's water and sewer needs with Hayes' staff in recent months, but not specific projects.

Former County Manager Mike Shalati, whom the commissioners fired in January, said he had spoken with Hayes over the past few years about water and sewer infrastructure needs.
In other words, for the past six years Robin Hayes has been completely ineffective at getting any help for his counties while his Republican party controlled the purse strings even though Hern describes this legislation as "not controversial". Pa.the.tic.

I keep looking for good in this man and I keep coming up empty.

S.C. Dems Alive and Kicking

Jim Morrill has an encouraging report from the S.C. Democratic Convention. Excitement abounds.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Desperate for Dollars, the RNC Hangs State Parties Out to Dry

First it was the NRSC sending out a fundraiser last year that had the potential to scam those easily intimidated. Now the RNC appears to be throwing the NCGOP and other local GOP organizations under the bus.

The latest fundraiser? It's the mass distribution of "limited edition" photographs of Dubya and the wife. Yes, I'm a proud owner of one of these unique "limited edition" photographs of George and Laura Bush.

I'm sure it is quite valuable. It's a limited edition.....and it's signed.

I know, I know. You're all thinking what a lucky girl I am to have such a valuable photograph. Admittedly, I wouldn't have it without the help of my Republican husband. You see, he knew how important the photograph would be to me, so he wasted no time bringing it to my office. Unframed. This facilitates the application of a cork backing.

You might be wondering how selling a magnificent picture of George and Laura hangs state and local parties out to dry. Well, that part comes out in the four page letter that accompanies said exclusive, limited-edition photograph.

They are really pleased as punch with this photograph.
I hope you are as proud to receive the enclosed personalized photograph of President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush as I am to send it to you today.

For more than six years, the liberals have peppered President Bush with personal insults, brazenly blocked critical legislation for partisan political purposes, and even issued bullying threats of impeachment....
Trust me. I'm freakin' thrilled to own this new dart board photograph. I can think of no better way to combat those scaaaaaaary libruls than to sell photos of Dubya to stoopid Republicans. Puh-leeze!

The letter goes on to make other completely false claims like:
I have no doubt that our nation is safer, freer, and more prosperous today because George W. Bush is our President.
Now isn't that a load of happy horse manure?

But, here's the part where the RNC proves just how greedy they really are. Instead of joining with their state parties to strengthen them, the RNC chooses to differentiate themselves as the "official" Republican organization.
I am writing to you today on behalf of our President and the entire leadership of the Republican Party to invite you to join our cause as the newest member of the Republican National Committee (RNC) from North Carolina.

The RNC is THE national Party organization. We serve as the umbrella group for state and local Party committees, leading the effort to elect Republican candidates to office at all levels, all across the country.

The President has given the RNC a broad, yet clear, mandate -- Build the Party's grassroots base of support and lay the groundwork for Republicans to regain control of both Chambers of Congress and hold onto the White House in the 2008 elections.
Get that? They are THE national organization. The "have no imitations", "we're the big boys with the presidential mandate" language has got to have some state party leaders feeling just a bit emasculated. Quick! Somebody ask Linda Daves how it feels to have the RNC pull the rug out from under her just when she's getting to sit in the big boy chair.

If you've read this far thinking I'm going to provide a link to a scan of my valuable, personalized, signed, limited-edition photograph, you can keep on wishing. If I violated the RNC's copyright and shared an image of the photograph, I would immediately devalue the millions limited number of photographs currently on the market.

As thrilled as I am with my new prized piccie, I wonder how many Republicans will be equally thrilled. The RNC decided to take no chances that the photograph alone would entice their loyal base into sending money. They resorted to a favorite Republican tactic.

Most Americans are still decidedly more conservative than Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democrat (sic) Leader Harry Reid, and other leading Democrats such as Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton.

Now is clearly not the time to walk away from your Party and your President. Now is the time to rally behind all we believe in, to move our Party forward, for the good of country and future generations.
Boy, do they sound scared. They should be. Bush's approval ratings among Republicans is still between 72% and 76% according to most recent polls. However, that's down about 20 points over this time four years ago. That can put a pinch on fundraising. Even worse for Republicans, Bush has only about 24% approval among Independents. At a time when Republicans are struggling to maintain their voter base, it's going to be next to impossible for them to expand their donor base.


State Senator Malcolm Graham Declines to Run for Mayor of Charlotte

State Senator Malcolm Graham has decided against running to replace Pat McCrory as mayor of Charlotte. Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer has the expanded story on Graham's announcement.
State Sen. Malcolm Graham found his epiphany in the closet.

Saturday morning, he had to decide what to wear -- a suit, to attend Mecklenburg County's Democratic convention, or sweats, to go to his daughter's basketball tournament.

He chose the sweats.

"That was a telling moment about what I really wanted to do, and where my focus was," Graham said Monday.

The choice helped Graham clarify a decision not to run for Charlotte mayor this fall, ending weeks of speculation. The two-term senator also said it's "unlikely" that he'll run for re-election in 2008.
Malcolm Graham is my senator and I've known him for a while. I think he would do a terrific job as mayor of Charlotte. I know a lot of people who agree with me.

Graham owns his own consulting firm where he works to help African American business owners and entrepreneurs. Given his background and career choice I feel certain he would prioritize efforts to continue breaking down barriers that run along racial and socio-economic lines.

When faced with a difficult decision, Malcolm Graham is a man who would do the right thing. I trust that is what he is doing now.

If he ultimately decides against continuing in the NC Senate, I won't count him out for the long haul. His girls will be in college and that empty nest might just send him looking for a new hobby. He has enough fans among Charlotte voters to assure an easy return to politics if he ever decides to seek office again.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Candidate for NC Lt. Gov, Dan Besse Speaks to BlueNC

Dan Besse, one of our strong Democratic candidates for Lt. Governor in North Carolina, attended the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party convention on Saturday. We had a chance to speak with him and he was kind enough to allow an impromptu video introduction.

Dan Besse speaks to BlueNC:

Thank you, Dan Besse for giving us this wonderful introduction. Thank you for doing it with zero notice. You obviously know why you are running and you've given us a great deal to think about.

Update: I meant to add that we are working to feature the other candidates for Lt. Gov. at later dates. I have only met Hampton Dellinger and Dan Besse, but would have no problem supporting either of these men.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Larry Kissell Finds one of His 330 Votes, Robin Hayes Running Scared

The Larry Kissell team has found one of the 330 votes we were missing in 2006. Not only that, this vote actually takes one away from Robin Hayes. The young lady you see pictured on the left was willing to speak to us on Saturday at the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party convention in Charlotte. She explained that her family had always voted Republican and she followed suit.

Then, she made friends of a different political persuasion and she opened her mind to the things they were saying. It didn't take long for her to become a Kissell convert. Before you hear her testimonial, though, Larry needs your vote. No, not for congress. That comes later. Larry is in the running for DFA Grassroots All-Stars. At last check he was running a close fourth and we need to bump him up into the top three. Please visit DFA and vote for Larry Kissell.

Meet voter #1 of the 330 missing in November 2006:http:

OK, so we got a little silly at the end. Meredith is real. This isn't a stunt. She's also a very good sport. She had no idea we were going to drag her out of the convention to tape her. Not only did we catch her by surprise, she had just sat through her first Democratic convention. That's a lot in one day for a former Robin Hayes voter. Please join me in welcoming her to the Kissell voting family.

How can one voter make Hayes run scared? It isn't one voter. It's Larry Kissell and the enthusiasm surrounding his campaign that has Hayes running scared. There have been several indicators, but I'll just go into a couple today.

I took a look at the contribution levels of his family members. Granted, many have given and have been generous through the years. One, and I won't name names, stopped giving after 2001. Now, she and her husband(?) are both in with two donations of $2300 each. They've each given for the primary and general of the '08 cycle.

Another relative typically gave $500 a year until the 2006 cycle when Hayes was so scared by Larry Kissell this person forked over so much he had to refund her $1400. If Open Secrets is correct, Hayes still owes this poor woman a refund. Ooops.

I'm not knocking Hayes for turning to family for support. That's normal and everyone does it, even people worth $55 million like Robin Hayes. I'm just looking at the trends of family giving for Hayes and the heavy, early support shows they know he is in for a battle.

Another indicator, but I haven't looked at all specifics of the donors is that the PACs are giving earlier to the Hayes campaign than normal which boosts his early numbers. In the 2004 cycle Hayes had $16,000 in PAC donations for the first quarter. In the 2006 cycle he had $29,500 and in this cycle the amount has more than doubled to $61,000. That's a good thing for Hayes, too. The man is still retiring campaign debt and has less cash on hand than he did to start the 2006 cycle.

That's gotta stink.

Yes, he has more cash on hand than Larry Kissell. So, if you feel inclined you can help out there after you've voted at DFA. Just follow this link. Larry has just kicked off his 2008 campaign and fundraising has started. Believe it or not, Rahm Emanuel, the one person who came along too late for a lot of our tastes, is going to do his best to make up for that by headlining a fundraiser for Larry Kissell in Raleigh, NC.

There will be a lot of resources drawn to the presidential campaigns, so lets make sure the DCCC sees the netroots still supports Larry Kissell.

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Meck Dems on Solid Footing and Ready to Move Forward

I spent time at the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party convention yesterday and have decided to take a brief sabbatical from criticizing my local party. There is new leadership and an almost entirely new executive board. There were positive briefings from the state and city and a spirited talk from James Ferguson, a local civil rights leader. The only thing that seemed to be lacking was a good supply of Democrats.

Hopefully, that too will change as new leadership and the approaching presidential elections breathe new life into our local party. The key will be keeping the folks involved year round who just seem to crop up during the big election cycles. Helping make that happen will be the positive energy from new leadership. It will also help to have positive energy from local elected officials and that will improve the further we move away from the scandals surrounding former NC House speaker, Jim Black.

Good news on the financial front for local Dems. We aren't rich, but all bills are paid and there is money in the bank in every account - from GOTV to checking. Woo Hoo! That doesn't let donors off the hook, though. Our party deserves a nice permanent facility. We need a place to hold phone bank sessions and meetings, to organize and to celebrate. If you're worried your money won't be used wisely, then get INVOLVED!

One thing I'd like to see our party do is move away from paid canvassers. If more time, money and energy was put into organizing precincts with effective local volunteers, our outreach efforts would be so much more effective. People would open their doors to canvassers who are their neighbors and not to strangers they are less likely to trust or listen to. Door-to-door canvassing works, but not if people won't open their doors.

Back to the convention......

The meeting chambers were too dark and my flash wasn't powerful enough to get good pictures inside, but I was able to get pictures of a couple of our local candidates before the meeting started. Patsy Kinsey (disclaimer: she's my mother), who represents city council district 1, enjoyed chatting with friends and supporters. I'm not sure how many people were there from her district, though.

Senator Dan Clodfelter was scheduled to bring greetings from the state legislature, but appropriately enough Tricia Cotham stood in for him. Most of you know she's one of our newest reps in the lege, having replaced Jim Black in district 100. She gave a spirited speech that I wish I had caught on tape so I could quote for you. Toward the end she was almost cheering us on and Pam B., my mother's campaign manager and a true saint of a woman, turned to me and said, "I really wouldn't want to have to follow that." Cotham received a healthy round of applause.

Many of the usual suspects were in attendance, but I noticed a few missing as well. One person in attendance, John Autry, announced his intention to challenge Larry Kissell for the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional District seat. Most of you, knowing my love for Larry, might assume that I would immediately eviscerate John Autry. Nope. I happen to like John and think he will do great things as an elected official. It just won't be as the congressman from the 8th CD in this state. He doesn't have a snowball's chance on a warm day of winning the nomination. Trust me. I would support Autry in a campaign for just about any other elected office and I hope I will have the chance.

Finally, a word about the MCDP's new chair, David Erdman. First, I know and trust David Erdman. He is a good man and has been a good friend to my family for years. In a past endorsement for political office, the Charlotte Observer had this to say:
Mr. Erdman has a thoughtful demeanor and strong analytical skills and is a creative thinker about government. He has presented an insightful and challenging view of Charlotte's future, from improving neighborhood quality to enhancing the police force....(He will be) the most effective in analyzing the city's needs and contributing to the council's efforts to meet them. We recommend David Erdman, who knows the city well, has an incisive mind and is likely to work effectively with others in charting the city's course.
This is the talent we now find leading our local party. The Mecklenburg County GOP should be quaking in its boots.

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