A Chapel Hillian to challenge Dole?

I know I'm late to the party on this one (sometimes I actually have to work instead of reading blogs all day) but how about this report in the Carrboro Citizen that Jim Neal of Chapel Hill is going to run against Elizabeth Dole next year? I've only heard a few other names tossed around, such as state legislators Grier Martin (D.G.'s son) and Kay Hagan, but I think Dole's a sitting duck.

I've never heard of him before, but Kirk says Neal is "a key Democratic Party fundraiser," so does that mean he's for real? Discuss.

Update: On another thread David Beck posted a link to an N & O story that tells us Neal is 50 and an investment banker.



I have to say, a democrat from Chapel Hill that NOBODY has ever heard of you does not sound like a winner in a statewide race. Dole, while hardly qualified to represent NC, has celebrity power and the folks who have thrown their hats in the ring on our side just don't measure up.

To paraphrase my response to a similar concern over at another blog:
Everybody who'd heard of John Edwards in September 1997 raise their hand.

Thanks for the h/t Ruby. Carrboro heard about it first.

I would hate to think that "incumbency" , or "celebrity power" is too much to overcome here. I can't think of a better time to run for Senate for Democrats. Dole has backed Bush on about everything, including the recent "CHIPS" debacle. Dole is also against raising the minimum wage generally because it's "too hard on small business". North Carolina needs a change and a fresh face! Dole is definitely a sitting duck, and now's the time. I'm excited that a Chapel Hillian has thrown his hat in.

Erskine Bowles was Clinton's chief of staff and we all know what happened to him... twice. I think that the only way this state will elect a Democrat into the Senate is if he/she was a Blue Dog Democrat. Let's face it, Liz Dole is probably going to be reelected because outside of the Chapelboro area being progressive is frowned upon.

Leann, Democrats win plenty of statewide offices in NC. Look at the Governor for the last two decades. Don't blame NC voters for Erskine Bowles. He just wasn't the right candidate.


Yeah, Mike Easley is a democrat but not a progressive one. I'm just pointing out the facts. A good candidate would be a well known Republican who switched parties and run against Liz Dole. Hey, it happened in Virginia.

No thanks, Leann.

"A good candidate would be a well known Republican who switched parties and run against Liz Dole" -- from your lips to...but unlikely.

Nonetheless, Bowles wasn't the right candidate and ran, imho, truly strange campaigns. The "Erskine ... bowls!" ad was one of the weirdest, and maybe lamest, political ads I've ever seen. At the risk of saying the obvious, Dole's vulnerable but -- like everywhere else with a vulnerable GOP candidacy -- won't be defeated by disorganization and clumsy campaigning, even if the candidate is a celebrity.

Also Dole will not be beaten by a pro-NAFTA/CAFTA, pro war, corporate apologist (like Bowles). What would be the difference?

People outside Chapel Hill may be reticent to call themselves "progressive" but they are sick of the war, don't like NAFTA, and know we are on the wrong track.

To echo what others have said, if the candidate isn't sufficiently progressive to energize us Chapel Hill folk, one might wonder where his/her support is going to come from. The Triangle is consistently the top contributing region to Democratic candidates, and 27514 is often the most giving zip in the state for Dems. Right now, looking at 2008 presidential data, the top three giving zip codes in the state are 27514, 27517, and 27516, in that order.

Money aside, campaigns generally get run on the ground by us legions of young people, many of whom are from right here in Chapel Hill. The last time I worked for a major campaign outside of our area was in the 11th District congressional race in '04, of which probably two thirds the staff and virtually all of the interns were Chapel Hill grads from the past five years or current students (even with a Dukie candidate and campaign manager, ha).

Sure, you can write off Chapel Hill / Carrboro and still win a statewide race, but I wouldn't recommend it.

ok, so for the sake of painting a clearer picture, Progressive How? Which issues matter the most, or more importantly, if it's going to be a Red Dog Dem who can carry the state, on which issues could you stomach some right-leaning?

We know it's not the war.


I hesitate to harp my national policy wishlist on a blog about local politics. Though in one particular regard, I think Chapel Hill would be more permissive of a, err, slightly less secular candidate than other similar towns around the country might be.


National polls consistently show that a majority of Americans are aginst the war, want the troops home, oppose torture, are against pro-corporate NAFTA type policies that hurt American workers, are concerned anout global warming, and want a better health care system. I'm sure that North Carolinians generally feel the same way.

I'm not sure why - when we have a generally right-leaning Democratic Party - anyone should logically stomach any more right-leaning than what has gotten us into this mess in the first place.

I'd like to know more about Jim Neal and his plans if elected.
We certianally don't want another prima donna candidate that spends all his time in another state running for president, instead of positive legislation and representing the very people who elected him. Nor do we need another out of state "native" with ties to secular organizations and the Bush administration agenda.
What we need is a Senator that will focus on our needs as a North Carolinians, and not pander to out-of-state interests at our expense. I personally would rather have someone with a positive political record and experience, than someone who is running based on fundraising alone.

The only Chapel Hill "progressive" I want to see running against Liddy is the honorable student mentor and coach Dean Smith ! How 'bout it Dean ? I'll contribute the first $100.00 dollars !
Buddy Kelly

I, for one, had heard of John Edwards in fall of 1997, specifically because of the Valerie Lakey case that got so much attention and press in 1996.

Duncan, you are also married to an attorney...

Greer Martin said he is deciding this week whether to run or not.

My guess is he gives it a pass.

So all Jim Neal has to do is run for US Senate, and even if he loses, he's destined for an appointed position somewhere on the UNC campus. Run, Jim, run!

I reckon Edwards could readily beat Libby Dole. If he starts to wane in the primaries, is there any chance he could high-tail it back to NC and give her a run for her money?

Barnes, I doubt we'd see Edwards back at the Senate level.

Does anyone else have lingering irritation that Edwards didn't stick it out and run for re-election for Senate at least once before going for the presidential bid? He won the position, probably could have been re-elected (right?), and then gave it up to an open election that brought in a Republican.

This is one of the reasons I'm reluctant to support Edwards--he should have stuck it out in the Senate longer.

Joan, if our politicians were without ego issues, they would not be politicians, particularly at the national level. Edwards will surely have matured by now, and even more so should his presidential bid run aground, as the odds seem to show will happen. (But people have beaten long odds before!) In any event, maturity is usually inevitable with age, but not always, of course. Perhaps he will come home to roost and help where he can, via the Senate. He is just the only Democrat I can think of who might stand a chance against Libby Dole.

Joan, I'm pissed that Edwards didn't even complete ONE FULL TERM in the Senate before dropping out to spend time on him campaign - something Senators John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama didn't do. I just count it among his many screw-ups, but it doesn't really cloud my view of what he could do as President NOW.

While John Edwards might win in Orange county, he is completely unelectable for any statewide race. He's seen as an elitist that wants to regulate your life with out sacrifice to his own.
His unsustainable policies,
His failure as a Senator,
Announcing his candidacy in New Orleans a full 1 1/2 years after Katrina,
The huge carbon footprint of his Orange County "compound" while touting himself as an environmentalist,
Several transgressions of his staff
And many others,
Furthermore, is he going to run back for cover under the UNC umbrella when he loses, or go back into private practice?
There really are two Americas, John Edward's America, and the rest of us.

If the NC Dem party runs Edwards as a candidate, they are assuring a Dole victory.

I'm not so sure. Many folks in NC would vote for Edwards simply because they've heard of him and because he is not tarred with the Bush brush. A cogent analysis will not be the norm, you know, in many areas.

If not him, then who? Bowles has shown he is not electable. Who else? Just right it off?

North Carolinians send Republicans to Washington, and Democrats to Raleigh.

And there isn't a Democrat on the radar that can convince Tar Heel voters to change.

Maybe Jim Black, um wait....Meg Scott Phipps, um, no....
Mike Nifong, um no.....Floyd McKissick, um, wait, no....Mike Deaver is a Democrat now so maybe, no um.....where is Tom Taft when we need him....?

Will, last I check neither you nor I were registered Democrats, so we should be taken with a grain of salt. I think that given the choices in the Democratic primary, many North Carolina voters will find Edwards' message appealing.

I'm sure disappointed to hear that, but let's don't close the door just yet. The election is over a year away. Every day that Bush is in office, it gets harder for Dole to get re-elected.

NC tends conservative in national elections, but it is a considerably less conservative state than most people think. Looking at a county-level map of NC is a great way to obscure that point because the red-blue county maps suggest that land area=votes. Of course, people, not acres, cast ballots.

Some cartography junkies compiled an outstanding set of 2004 presidential election maps that get at this point to add some more nuance to the 2004 results. Check them out, and imagine how this would look applied to NC only.

While I am sure Edwards is not about to run again as a Democratic Senate nominee, I think Dole does face considerable vulnerability due to the widespread discontent with the Republic Party on the Iraq war and other issues. It should be an interesting campaign.

Look, I'll make this very clear. I DO NOT support Dole and would love to have a better representative Senator in Washington, but John Edwards has already proved he's not representative to North Carolinians.
If the Democrat Party runs Edwards ( and of course that's a big if), they are ensuring a Dole victory.

Check the Red State/Blue State county map of NC. Outside of a few areas, NC is conservative. Like it or not, it is what it is.

Edwards is not running for Senate and I feel confident would not consider doing so.

Grier Martin is not running, so it appears Jim Neal will be the likely nominee, barring some late surprise.

Looking ahead to the next election: any more news on Jim Neal? Robert P has been posting some stuff on facebook, and I have to admit I couldn't help but notice that Jim is not an unattractive man. And yes, that had me clicking through to his website just to confirm.

But, is there any actual news out there? Chatter, rumors, other candidates, etc?

Joan isn't the only one waiting to see more of Jim Neal. He's running against Liddy Dole and another Democratic challenger named Hagen or Hagan. Dole isn't actively campaigning yet either, but these folks need to get to work!

Kay Hagan was one of two leading talked-about Democrats for this race. She demurreed when the Democratic Party tapped Grier Martin instead. But then Martin stepped out. After Neal filled the vacuum, the NCDP had a change of the heart and gave Hagan the nod. I am NOT impressed. If I was a registered Democrat, I would be fuming. But this kind of crap is exactly why I have been unaffiliated for many years now.

Here's more...
On Senator Hagan's decision: http://bluenc.com/thinking-clearly-about-hagan-and-neal
On the reaction of progressive Democrats: http://bluenc.com/the-week-that-was

Ruby, I'm not sure what you mean that the NCDP had a change of heart and gave Hagan the nod.

Where and when did this happen? Who was involved? As a member of the NCDP State Executive Committee I can tell you nothing formal was done.

Hagan had been thinking about this for a while and was ready to step aside for Grier Martin. Martin didn't run, she got in.

What's to fume about?

By the way, speaking as just one Democrat, I'm undecided at this point.

Obviously nothing formal was done. That's not how politics work, especially at the state level. The links I included explain what I think is going on, but I understand if you think people were motivated differently than I do, Paul.

Jim Neal has one big problem in my view, Ruby and it isn't his sexual orientation and it may have been just as much or more of a consideration for some Democrats, not all by any means, to get Hagan in the race after Grier Martin took a pass. I think it is incorrect to say that "the NCDP" did this, again, there was nothing formal done by the state committee. I certainly don't disagree that some party elders were concerned that he is gay, but again, I think there is more to it.

It is that he was gone from the state for a long time and just returned recently. I know that he is a native North Carolinan, like Dole, although unlike Dole, he didn't move back to NC just to run for the Senate, if you can call registering and residing at her momma's house long enough to win her seat and then go back to her real home at the Watergate "moving back to NC" at all, that is.

Bowles never made this a big issue and he should have, she was gone from here for 40 years, her husband was registered in Kansas. Maybe Bowles felt his Washington background would be

Now, of course, most of the voters have forgotten this and probably think of her as NC through and through now after 6 years. Then the Dems have a candidate who has been in NYC for the last 25 years? There goes anything left of that issue for the Dems.

But, I don't think that should rule Jim Neal out. He has other strengths, it appears, and would likely be a good candidate overall. But Hagan would be too, it appears to me. As I stated above, I'm undecided.


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