Democrats: Don't get lazy

Howdy, all. I have posted fairly rarely, but it's now two weeks before Election Day, and I'd like to bring up a couple of things I think us liberal folks need to be aware of:

First, the state Republican Party is stressing, above all else, the Republican candidates in the theoretically non-partisan elections for the State Supreme Court and its feeder body, the State Court of Appeals. If you look at, you'll find the big rotating splash of candidates, and a link to a palm card (with blank spaces where the attribution goes) for Republicans to use to gin up the vote. Statewide elections for "secondary" offices in North Carolina tend to be knife-edge affairs when turnout is high, and the right wing can, and would love to, sweep the courts when the turnout is low.

Second, signs, leaflets, etc., for the Democratic county commission candidates are nowhere to be seen. This might be understandable for Alice Gordon and Barry Jacobs, but my personal top choice, Mike Nelson, is seeking an open seat, and his campaign Web site hasn't been updated since before the May primary! Now Jamie Daniel may not seem a formidable candidate, but Jamie Daniel and friends are campaigning and, more important, will be the beneficiary of any "ABM" voters ("Anybody-But-Mike Nelson"): party-line Republicans, pro-development and/or anti-tax forces, gay-queasy independents, and people who have issues with how Carrboro was governed when Mike was mayor--including a few hundred unhappy annexees.

Lest anyone say that Orange's regular two-to-one (sometimes five-to-two) Democratic majorities make it unnecessary to put in serious time and effort to counter the Republicans and get out our vote, I give you a pair of real-life tortoise-and-hare stories:

In 1993, in Arlington County, Virginia, a liberal Washington suburb where Republicans had won no election of any kind since 1979, Jay Fisette, a well-connected, openly gay Democrat, was nominated for an open seat on the County Board in a special election. He ran a good campaign, but lost by a small margin to a Republican-endorsed independent. While some voters were doubtless homophobic, the main reason for the loss was that the Democrats assumed Fisette would win, and many didn't show up at the polls, while the Republicans (and scattered homophobes) did. (Since then, Jay Fisette has been elected to the board twice. And Arlington still hasn't gone for a non-Democrat in any election since 1979--other than that one where Fisette lost in 1993.)

Then in 1997, in Washington itself, Arrington Dixon, a former City Council Chairman, was nominated for a vacant at-large council seat in a special election. As a well-known, long-experienced, African-American Democrat in a city that was 65% black and 85% Democratic, he assumed that his nomination was tantamount to election. He didn't campaign, and the party didn't turn out the vote. It was a huge shock when Dixon lost the seat to an unknown political newcomer: a 29-year-old, white, openly gay Republican named David Catania. Catania worked his tail off, and it paid off.

While these were both special elections, they're comparable to the 2006 general election. No hotly contested presidential or U.S. Senate or gubernatorial contest is on the top of the ballot; the top draws are Congressman Price (who is, in his positive, low-key way, campaigning) and the "non-partisan" judicial elections.

We keep hearing the talking heads say the national elections are close to a done deal for our side. With respect, not so fast. Here in Orange County, we have plenty of work to do in the next few weeks if we don't want unhappy surprises on Election Night.

Mark H.



I should hope the latter.

But Mark is right, at least figuratively. That still gives no excuse for slacking, though. Even if you don't care about the down-ballot judicial races, and don't care that without a heavy turnout in Orange County our state Supreme Court could become an all white male bastion of conservative bliss... at the very least, think of this year as a good dry run for 2008. As far as I'm concerned, there's no valid reason to let any election slip to the wayside.

What's the argument for Will--giving Republican's a real chance or preventing nude campaigning by the Dems? :)

And that's one of the best arguments for non-partisan elections I've heard so far...

Don't worry about the county commission election. Daniels or any other Republican couldn't win if all the Democratic candidates held a rally in the nude.

A correction: This post was actually written a week ago, and in the lag between my writing and its being posted, Mike Nelson's Web site's been updated, and Alice Gordon has put up roadside signs. All to the good--let's keep it up! :-) --Peace, Mark H.


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