NC SPIN panelists opine on elections

| July 18, 2012

John Hood
There were no great surprises in the runoff results, at least not to my mind. Former Labor Commissioner John Brooks retained just enough name recognition to get the Democratic nomination for that office once again. Richard Hudson, former staffer to Republican Congressman Robin Hayes in the 8th District, retained enough ties to the district to secure the GOP nomination against a candidate who didn’t live or work there. In the 9th District, self-funding candidate Robert Pittenger edged out Jim Pendergraph with one of the most expensive primary campaigns in the country. And in the 11th Congressional District, two Republican businessmen duked it out for the nomination — and the top vote-getter the first time got the most votes again.

Some may have been surprised by the GOP nominations for Council of State, if they assumed that being from vote-rich Wake County was an automatic ticket to victory in a low-turnout runoff. It wasn’t. While Wake school board member John Tedesco took the nomination for state school superintended, Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley was simply overwhelmed by Dan Forest’s energetic, grassroots campaign for lieutenant governor from the mountains to the coast. Former Wake County Commissioner Kenn Gardner was similar out-organized by Chowan County’s Ed Goodwin for Secretary of State.

As for Mike Causey defeating Richard Morgan for the Insurance Commissioner nod, it proved two things: 1) Causey’s prior runs for insurance commissioner proved to be a plus, and 2) Morgan’s prior service as House co-speaker to Democratic Speaker Jim Black remains a minus.

Gene Arnold
Ed Goodwin wins a chance to go against Elaine Marshall.  That’s not a good prize to win in a race.

John Tedessco uses Wake County support to win.  Meet your next NC State Superintendent.

Mike Causey finally wins one.  This ends Richard Morgan’s political election career, hopefully.

John Brooks wins a chance to go against Cherie Berry.  Now he has to really go to work for that race.

Jim Crawford recieved his reward for helping the Republicans.  There ends his dream to be Speaker.  Now he has to decide to run as a Republican.

Brad Crone
Turnout was dismal but in no way indicates the peaked interest we are seeing for the upcoming General Election.  The core bases of each respective party turned out, it appears for the Democrats, it was older voters who performed helping to boost the candidacy of John Brooks, who won the Democratic nomination over newcomer Marlowe Foster.

The stage is now set for perhaps one of the most historic elections our state has ever seen. The races up and down the ballot will be competitive as both sides work to energize their bases and persuade the “middle-of-the-road” independents.

Phil Kirk
Tuesday’s dismal voter turnout again points out the need to abolish the second primary.  Generally, the top-place finishers in the first primary won in the second primary.  Second primaries are a waste of time and money as long as so few participate and I don’t see that changing.

Henry Hinton
Winners and Losers: Biggest loser is the NC taxpayer. Over $4 million for this runoff and pitiful turnout. The legislature and SBOE needs to address this immediately before it happens again. We need a new system. I’m good with the idea of picking your first and second choices in the primary election.

Congratulations to all the winners. Biggest surprise was the margin of victory in the GOP Lt. Governor’s race. Forest was pretty much invisible in the east. Gurley ran some radio but was still far outspent statewide. Both were credible candidates and Forest will be a good competitor in November. He’ll be able to raise money and has a good rap. The GOP establishment will welcome him and I suspect you’ll see him jump on Pat McCrory as much as possible. McCrory and his mother, Congresswoman Sue Myrick are close friends.

Ed Goodwin contines to defy the odds. How does a guy from Chowan County continue to beat people from Raleigh and other large markets? Two things. 1) When people meet him they love his country boy down to earth no-nonsense approach to government. 2) No one is really paying attention to this race so only the motivated care. Goodwin motivates. When people meet him he has a very high likability factor. If Elaine Marshall takes Ed for granted she’ll be in for a shock.

Jeanne Bonds
A very expensive election run off with very little participation may be a signal that voters are just not paying attention, seeing too many ads too early or are just not interested. Add to the day the sad death of Rep. Wainwright and the indictment of Rep. LaRoque, and it seemed an odd Tuesday. Election results were surprising in some cases by the margins. In particular, the Brooks -Foster race for Labor on the Dem side and the Forest-Gurley race for Lt. Gov on the Repub side.

I’m not sure primaries or run offs serve as any kind of indicators for general elections in presidential years except to show how few voters are engaged or interested yet.

Becki Gray
Dan Forest’s game plan of organizing grass roots and taping into the tea party network worked. He benefited from a higher interest and turnout in the 9th Congressional district. He defeated Gurley two to one (16,680 to 8,048) Mecklenburg County where his mother is retiring Congresswoman Sue Myrick’s. He was also successful in Wake where he and Gurley both live and where I thought Gurley as a former Wake County Commissioner had an advantage – Forest beat Gurley 8,955 to 8,565 in Wake.

Former Labor Commissioner John Brooks defeated Marlowe Foster (31,261 to 26,452) in the only democratic council of state run-off to advance to the November contest against incumbent Cherie Berry. Brooks served as NC’s Labor Commissioner from 1977-93. He oversaw the largest and deadliest industrial disaster in North Carolina’s history – the Hamlet chicken fire where 25 workers were killed and the owners of the plant sent to prison for 20 years. He was defeated in the election following the tragedy and is now trying for a comeback. In yesterday’s run-off, Brooks lost Richmond County (site of the fire) – by two votes – 148-146.

Former NCGA House member, Richard Morgan’s political career may finally be over. He lost to Mike Causey in the Insurance Commissioner run-off after previously losing his Moore County House seat and a run for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Causey beat him 2 to 1 (1378 to 754) in Morgan’s home county, Moore and almost 2 to 1 (10254 to 6087) in Wake County where Morgan’s 2003 Jones Street shenanigans with Jim Black are still remembered (and resented). Morgan carried some of the counties in the 8th, 9th, and 11th congressional districts where he spent some money on advertising. But it wasn’t nearly enough to stop the well liked long time Republican activist Causey.

Former NCGA members Rep. Arthur Williams (House 6), Rep. Wil Neumann (House 109), Rep. Don Davis (Senate 12) and incumbent Sen. Chris Carney (Senate 44) all lost their Republican run-off efforts to return to Raleigh. Former NC Senator Robert Pittenger won his run-off for a Congressional bid in district 9.

Voter turnout was dismally low at 3.58%. NCSBOE’s Gary Bartlett estimates run-off election costs between $6 and $7M. Total voters? 220,761 Cost per vote? $27.18

Cash Michaels
DAN FOREST BEATS TONY GURLEY- As conservative as former Wake County Commission Chairman Tony Gurley claims to be, apparently his credentials did not impress rank-and-file Republicans across the state, as newcomer Dan Forest defeated Gurley handily in Tuesday’s race. Forest’s Democratic opponent is former state Rep. Linda Coleman. Since both are virtually unknown to North Carolina voters, Coleman needs Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walton Dalton, as well as top-of-the-ticket President Obama, to run strong.

JOHN TEDESCO DEFEATS RICHARD ALEXANDER – The Charlotte Observer wasn’t too kind to either GOP candidate for Supt. of Public Instruction, because it realized just how weak both were. Alexander was running to eliminate the office, and Tedesco ran to make it a political powerbase from which he could launch his future Tea Party-backed runs for state office. Tedesco is perhaps the most polarizing elected official in Wake County, given his three-year tenure on the school board. It will be real interesting to see Tedesco and Democratic incumbent June Atkinson square-off.

ED GOODWIN DEFEATS KENN GARDNER – Democratic Secretary of State Elaine Marshall may have her hands full with Republican challenger Ed Goodwin, who is a strong conservative, anti-Washington, anti-Obama candidate who stands on his record as chair of the Chowan County Commission Board, and promises to help make North Carolina more business-friendly.

MIKE CAUSEY BEATS RICHARD MORGAN – Apparently former NC House Speaker Richard Morgan’s hip-hop radio ads were no match foe Mike Causey’s no nonsense campaign to become the Republican nominee for state Insurance Commissioner. Causey says he wants to become the first Republican in NC history to serve in that post. He says the dept. has been poorly run by current Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, a Democrat. Causey, a strong conservative, may benefit from the coattails of Pat McCrory’s run for governor.

JOHN BROOKS DEFEATS MARLOWE FOSTER – It would have been a surprise, indeed, if the veteran politician Brooks lost to newcomer Marlowe Foster, a lobbyist. Having already served as labor commissioner from 1977 to 1993, Democrats needed to chose someone with the pedigree and experience to faceoff in November against Republican incumbent Cherie Berry. But again, Brooks’ fortunes in the fall may have more to do with success, or lack thereof, at the top of the ticket.

Category: Elections, SPIN Blog

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