Senate race gets interesting

Today Chapel Hill's own Jim Neal who is running for U.S. Senate against Elizabeth Dole next year (if he wins the Democratic nomination, for which he has no competition yet) was a guest for an hour of live-blogging over on BlueNC this morning. A surprising question came up, but not as surprising as the answer:

I've heard you're gay...
omega_star on Sat, 10/20/2007 - 10:09am
I am indeed. No secret and no big deal to me-- I wouldn't be running if I didn't think otherwise.
JimNeal on Sat, 10/20/2007 - 10:18am

I'm just going to be honest and say that this has really raised my level of interest in supporting Neal's candidacy - both because he's gay and because he's cool enough to be open about it. And before you ask, yes I do think N.C. is ready for a gay senator (if it's the right one), but you may well disagree.

I wonder if there will be any interesting local Senate announcements this week...



I'm still very much a stranger in a strange land here (moved from Brooklyn to Asheville last January) and have no sense yet of the tenor of the N.C. electorate statewide; but I sure didn't expect to hear anyone opine that an openly gay man could get elected to the Senate here. it'd be a pleasant surprise to me if you're right.

Ruby Sinreich at 9:02 pm, 10/20/07
> yes I do think N.C. is ready for a gay senator

Based on what evidence? That all the nice people you talk to in OC are ready for a gay senator ?-) cmon, It Would Be Nice, but unless you mean "ready" in the sense of "lock and load," you're dreaming. 2 quick datapoints (in lieu of poll data, which I don't have at hand, but which is welcomed):

* The anti-same-sex-wedding constitutional amendment has never been voted down in the NCGA--they just adjourn without voting. There's a reason for that.

* Didn't the NC Republicans kick the Log Cabin out of their freaking convention a few years back (but not many)?

Granted, an electorate which can elect both Helms and Sanford at the same time is capable of more than a little inconsistency. But I have a sinking feeling the folks who brought you the White Hands will tear Neal's little you-know-what up :-(

Any Democrat would be a breath of fresh air. It is unfortunate that BOTH our Senatorial seats are wasted; Dole and Burr are both worse than useless.

I like to think NC is "blue" enough that the diversity issue with Neal won't be a problem. Of course, things get less "blue" fast outside the Triangle, so I really don't know.

Dole should be vulnerable-- she couldn't come through with cash for her state on the TTA issue, to be sure, in spite of her connections. Funny, she seems to have no trouble throwing larger sums down the Iraqi rat hole and oil is STILL trending towards $100 a barrel.

I'd like to hear how Neal stands on OLF and CN. OLF may well NOT go where teh Navy wanted it, but I hear they are stil comtemplating other sites in NC which may also be bad. CN looks like it is moving forward, unfortunately. Maybe something can still be done.

And this would be the seat that Jesse Helms held, right??


PS- Thanks for getting the spam protection math back into single digits. I can manage that.

1st, Ruby, I thought the goal was that sexual orientation SHOULDN'T MATTER. Sure, this is a useful thread to discuss the impact on the race, but your comment that it makes you more interested seems odd.

2nd, given how much work Brad Miller had to do to dispel the rumor that he is gay, I would think Liddy and gang are salivating over this statement. I was impressed with Jim's statement at the OCDP breakfast yesterday (especially his energy and passion for this fight). And I hope this doesn't make his run a non-starter -- we NEED to win this one...

I believe that no Democrat has been elected to the Senate in a presidental year since before 1972.

Yes, but Terry Sanford won in 1986, although he lost in 1992 after being ill. And Edwards in 2002. Y'all act like NC never elects Democrats...

My interest in Jim Neal's campaign increased exponentially upon reading his honest comments about his sexual orientation. The rights of same sex couples to see loved ones in hospitals, receive equal medical benefits, have federally recognized marriages, and to raise children are VERY important to me. I hope Mr. Neal's is concerned about these issues. I want a progressive in the US Senate who will represent ALL the people of North Carolina. We must have a Senator, and President, who truly believes EVERYONE should be equal.

Sure, we have elected Democrats to the Senate, but David's point is that it is difficult lately in a presidential election year. 1972 is the important election because it was the first in American history in which a Republican candidate (Nixon) carried every Southern state.

Will it be different in 2008 - even taking Iraq into account? I think it's too early to discern a pattern, but I suspect as of now that a gay Democrat running agains Dole will have a difficult time winning over a lot of voters.

Albus Dumbledore for Senate!

Wasn't Edwards 1998?

Personally, I feel like this announcement calls for major action on the part of Democrats. Do we really walk the walk, or just talk the talk. Here is a candidate who is right on when it comes to the issues that matter - right on. He is an eloquent speaker from what I have heard, smart, good businessman, single parent who raised his son(s) for years, and so on.

Oh, and he is gay. Personally, this feels like the time for someone to ask Democrats to put up or shut up. $10 a piece, raise enough money to bury Elizabeth Dole and show that we believe all people are created equal. Because let's face it, until we fix the system, this race will be viewed through the money lens.

Does Jim Neal actually live in the state? Because that's got to be an advantage for some folks over Dole.

By the way, is anyone else running in the primary so far? If not, is there still time? (Neal sounds great so far; I'm just curious.)

Eric, have you seen thebumber sticker around town:

Republican for Voldemort!

Robert, I gave my $10 (ok, maybe a little more) on Saturday after hearing Jim speak at the OCDP breakfast. has the link.

The message on his website is brief and eloquent, worth at least ten bucks. Thanks for the link, James.

"And Edwards in 2002. Y'all act like NC never elects Democrats…"

Wasn't Edwards sent to the Senate with the help of his trial attorney friends? A large portion of his donations come from lawyers. Does Neal have any such connection? He would need a similar sort of wealthy lobby, I would think, to be able to win the election, especially considering his recent news.

I would say that Edwards was the exception, not the rule. He was a prominent person in North Carolina, he could raise money through his connections (and from his own fortune)... I just don't see anyone else like that coming up for the Democrats.

I wish the Republicans would also run some worthwhile candidates, though, because Burr and Dole are both useless as another poster already said.

I recall hearing stories of a time when people might have said that North Carolina would never elect a black ____, too. With all injustices, there comes a moment when a community reaches a tipping point and rejects its old assumptions.

you also have to wonder: is it that a gay person can't get elected because of their sexual orientation, or because the folks (like you and me) who could work toward their victory write them off. You need support to make a stand.

Nice to see the state Dems finally added Jim's name to their website. It would be good of you to call and tell them you appreciate them being so gracious. I swear some folks think they're kingmakers...


Ruby, not sure who exactly you were responding to, but to be clear about my post: NC obviously has elected Dems. But in presidential election years Dem Senate candidates have been unsucessful since before 1972 (and before 1972 this was basically a one party state). Sens. Morgan, Sanford and Edwards (1998, not 2002) all were elected as Dems in off year elections. 2008 is a presidential election year. So if recently history holds, winning the general will be an uphill battle for any Dem, whether gay, straight, white, minority, male, female or whatever other characteristic one wishes to consider.

Now, it's even more interesting with John Hendrix joining the race for the Dem nomination.

Fred, where'd you hear about this? Please don't tell me mainstream news outlets are covering this guy as legit....

Here's the web page so you don't have to search yourselves:

Wow, John's webpage banner has a fantastic eagle, a la Stephen Colbert.

Is Hendrix in the libertarian bandwidth of the spectrum?

James, believe it our not, it was covered on the WTVD evening news yesterday. I guess we live in really interesting times, given what can pass as legitimate!

Somehow I don't think Stephen would use his campaign page to further a gripe against a timeshare company though (if you can make it to the bottom of the page).

Wow. I misread the spam question and got 1+3 wrong. Just proves I'm not smart enough to post here....

There are also rumors that NC State Senator Kay Hagan (D-Greensboro) has changed her mind and will run for the US Senate seat.

I thought I would visit his web-site and find bizarre wing-nut assertions such as Iran is on the verge of having nuclear weapons, that waterboarding is not torture, that Guliani spent more time at Ground Zero than the rescue workers, that nuclear power would be useful in mitigating global climate change, Barack Obama does not take money from lobbyists, the Democrats in Congress are procedurally prevented from stopping the Iraq War, or single payer health care would be a disaster for citizens.

His views make more sense than Harry Reid's - why the knee-jerk dismissal?

a) There isn't a coherent discussion but rather these odd (for a US Senator) rants against this administration (ways to win a war, knock knock).

b) Where's any discussion of other issues important to NC -- like Health Care?

c) He supports National Sales Tax, which is tough to make progressive...

Those are plenty of reasons for me to write him off.

I don't get why everyone's knocking on this guy either. Maybe he'd rather spend money getting his message out than spending it on a web designer? Maybe not everyone running for office is rich and can pay for a good website.

He could have a more substantive discussion of the issues on his site, but maybe he has something a full-time politician really doesn't -- a JOB-- and does the website himself in his spare time.

He also does not seem libertarian at all, to answer Priscilla's question.

To me, there is a somewhat libertarian cast to his approach to the issues, in focusing on anti-government questions. Libertarianism can be attractive to both conservatives and liberals, particularly in an era of imperial and paranoid executive behavior. But there's a difference between being anti-THIS-government and anti-ANY-government.

Talking about the Patriot Act, he wrote a dialogue giving a warrantless police officer the following statement: "We don't need a warrant, sir. We're just checking the neighborhood for terrorists, illegal guns, explosives, drugs, illegal aliens, and prohibited pornography."

That list looks similar to things many libertarians worry about as being inappropriately, poorly, or illegally monitored by The Gummint. And as James pointed out, he targets the IRS and income taxes, proposing the non-progressive substitution of a sales tax; and he sidesteps a lot of the social issues of particular concern to NC -- refers to immigration as a tricky issue but uses terms like "invasion."

I don't disagree with many aspects of his message, but he seems closer to libertarianism in the spectrum than would me comfortable. Just sayin' . . .

Just discovered this thread. Thought I would clear up a few questions. Yes, i do have a job. . .a real job for now. I have done my own website work because I enjoy it and am constantly experimenting on improvements while keeping it different from the generic political templates we often see. Someone mentioned that I danced around a couple of issues. If I did, don't let me get away with it. Pin me down. The last thing I want to do is be like "those" politicians. Last, but not least, I will say that I do have a problem with the labeling. The Republicans said I was too "librul" for them. I may be too conservative for some Democrat tastes. I'm certainly too sane and serious about this to be a Libertarian. What's a fella to do?

John Ross Hendrix


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