The Obscure Offices

I think most folks have made up their minds about the Orange County board race, but what about the "obscure" statewide offices that even heavily involved folks don't know much about? Well, most of us default to the Indy endorsements, which just came out. But sometimes I get a little nervous when so many people rely on one source for such opinions. Did they get it right this year? For instance, I've heard great things about both Tom Gilmore and Britt Cobb for commissioner of agriculture. I've got some major liberals pulling me to vote for Gilmore on one side and some other liberal friends asking me to vote for Cobb on the other. But the Indy paints a pretty clear picture that Gilmore is by far the best. Is that fair?

And what about the Court of Appeals Judge? Is Marvin Schiller really the best candidate? I haven't seen much to be able to make up my mind. The Indy states that Schiller "appears to be a far stronger candidate on paper". That kind of scares me. Does anyone have any first hand knowledge of this guy?

And for those folks who tune in to us from just across the border in southwest Durham and all of Chatham counties, I'm not convinced Bob Atwater is the best candidate. I heard he really flubbed his interview with the People's Alliance, proclaiming that he thought there needed to be less restrictive gun laws and also advocating for less local zoning control... Carrington seems to have so much more gravitas and seems much more progressive, so why would the Indy endorse Atwater?

I'm sure any thoughts on this would help me and many other voters decide when we go to the polls this week or next.



On 7/15 Mark Chilton wrote "let's all vote for the guy running against Easley for Governor. I don't know a thing about him, but what has Easley done for you lately?" Have you read anything about Patrick Ballantine's platform? ""We must have lower taxes and less regulation, a skilled workforce, better roads for commerce, and a quality education for our young people. Stifling regulations that cause businesses to pay higher and higher costs to comply with government mandates are costing families jobs." (also protection against same sex marriage) Wouldn't you say that Orange Co makes it costly and difficult for businesses (aka developers) to come here? What would be the implications for current Orange Co policies for a governor with this kind of conservative platform?

The Independent never interviews candidates for any office. Candidates make their case through their questionaire responses.

"Our endorsements are based on extensive reporting and research. In most races we send questionnaires to the candidates asking for detailed positions on issues they'll face in office. We also conduct supplemental interviews with political activists, neighborhood leaders and observers--as well as the candidates themselves."

Just so you'll know...

Whoever you choose, please vote on Tuesday.

Governor Easley appointed Alan Thornburg because of who Alan Thornburg is and what he has done for Mike Easley in the Western part of the State. Lacy Thornburg has been on the Federal bench and out of politics for over a decade now.

Did Alan learn from his father's example what a good judge and public servant is? Yes, absolutely. But Alan has amassed a very commendable record of public service in the years since he graduated from college and law school.

The other candidates are all good folks. Marcus has every opportunity and right to run. He's run statewide three times. He's hardly disadvanaged in this race.

Just keep an open mind is all I ask, and don't go by what an editor who never picked up the phone to interview his subject has to say.

John, I hear what you are saying, but Governor Easley appointed Alan Thornburg because of who his father is, and that just doesn't sit right with me. Lacy Thornburg was a faithful servant to our state as well and I mean him no slight, but the whole back room deal making thing looks bad.

And it continues a tradition of limiting access to such offices to a well-healed, well-connected set of North Carolinians. This was one of the things that was wrong with NC politics throughout the last century. It is a tradition for departing Appeals Judges and Supreme Ct. Justices to step down a year before their term ends and let the Governor appoint a new incumbent (with the intention of ensuring that the 'right' person gets the advantage of incumbency). That tradition makes it very hard for the likes of Marcus Williams to get a fair chance to run if he has to go up against an appointed incumbent. Although there have been times when the tradition was used to appoint minority Judges/Justices who might otherwiuse have had a very hard time getting elected. But it doesn't seem like Alan Thornburg needed a leg up.

Hopefully Meg Scott Phipps will be the end of electing candidates because of who their father is. [Not that there is any other comparison to be made between Phipps and Thornburg.]

not Bobby Jackson - Bobby Jenkins. Sorry.

Whaaa? This isn't a thread on forgotten offices of Mass?

Just a note asking y'all not to default to the Indy endorsements in the Court of Appeals race.

I am Alan Thornburg's campaign manager. I left three messages and several emails for the INdy editors, asking for Alan to have an opportunity to speak with them prior to their endorsement issue. Never heard a peep.

Their attack on Alan is really not a fair one. But, I'll leave it at that.

Alan is a life-long Democrat with solid progressive credientials, having worked for two of our State's most important liberal voices - Senator Sanford and Judge Ervin. He is bright, hard-working, and diligent, and he brings a real love for the job to the bench. He is not going to be an activist judge in either direction, but firmly believes in equal access to the courts for all litgiants, and equal treatment of them when they get there.

He is as fair-minded a person as I have ever met. I am a progressive Democrat, and I have easily come to the conclusion that he is deserving of my support. He has, for one thing, never campaigned for the Court based upon an argument that Jesse Helms loves him best. I'll leave it up to you to figure out who that was.

And let it be known, he's not paying me a dime. I've volunteered about 35% of my time to him over the last three months because I like him and I think he deserves to stay on the bench.

The Academy chose not to endorse as a body. I suspect that is because Mr. Schiller is a member. Alan has loads of support among the members of the organization including Cliff Britt, Bobby Jackson, Wade Byrd, Phil Miller, Chris Nichols, James Ferguson, Anna Worley, Elizabeth Todd, Sean Cole, and many many others.

Take a closer look at Alan. He's what we want in a judge.


Please also note, we linked to this site from our weblog a long time ago. :-)

I KNOW it's hard to vote for Easley based on his record of non-existence, but I can't vote for Kipfer. Look at his interview with the N and O this year. Even as a protest vote, I can't do it...

Mark K., I would love for you to post a run-down of the Indy endorsements in general. I still haven't had time to read them!


I'm voting for Marcus Williams for Court of Appeals because he helped me in my campaign for Chapel Hill Town Council (Board of Aldermen) in 1973. Marcus was also student body president at Carolina 1974-1975.

Oops! What I was trying to say above was: Brian, I have intentionally avoided official OP endorsements because 1) I don't know who would decide, 2) we might not agree, and 3) I don't want to have to deal with election laws if OP is considered a PAC or something.

Of course I have an abundance of opinions and I have posted my endorsements at my personal blog in the past. I guess I need to get on it for Tuesday.

The Charlotte Observer endorsed both Thornburg and Williams on July 8, 2004. From their description, it does sound like Williams has the most practical background in terms of his ability to work in rural/low wealth areas in NC. 2004/07/08/news/9103478.htm

Marcus Williams is a very interesting character. He's run for the Ct of Appeals before; he's even run for Governor! (Against Hunt and Lacy THORNBURG).

I'm ahead of you Chilton...I already voted for Kipfer. One of the funniest criticisms I've heard of (w)Easley was that he has shown the nation that the State of North Carolina can go 4 years without a governor.

Why doesn't Orange Politics have "Official" endorsements? To late for this year...but maybe Ruby and all the authors could collaborate. (I realize that is kinda what is going on here.)

Even if a few months before you could profile in-depth those running that OP "collectively" thinks we should vote for. Or is this just creating a hegemony that runs against the true freedom of options here? Do we have a collective opinion here? (nah... didn't think so)


I guess the best one can hope for is a fair and decent interpretation of the law. If Republican endorsed Schiller can give that, I'll vote for him. Are there any other sources of information out there?


How about ditching both of the White privilege candidates and voting for Marcus Williams, who is by far the most progressive candidate in the Court of Appeals race - and is acknowledged as such in the Indy's coverage of the race. Williams may well lose, but who cares? Is it really very important for any of us to cast the deciding vote between bland and blander?

Also, let's all vote for the guy running against Easley for Governor. I don't know a thing about him, but what has Easley done for you lately?


How are you reading Rickie's original post? Isn't that the point of the post?

"But sometimes I get a little nervous when so many people rely on one source for such opinions. Did they get it right this year?"


You know I'm a Yellow/Green Dog Democrat, but yes, I've voted for a few Republicans...not many, but a few, usually judges -- for example, Justice Edmunds on the NC Supreme Court. Sometimes Democrats, especially Dem Judges, are terrified to write an opinion that in any way grants relief for criminal defendants. The NC Supremes were famous for this in the 1990s. Chief Justice Mitchell, then running against in-the-closet-Republican-but-now-out-gay-Democrat Judge Ray Warren, sent out a mailing to law-enforcement officers across NC stating the following: "In the first year of my leadership, the Supreme Court heard 87 criminal appeals. We allowed only one new sentencing hearing and did not send a single criminal case back for a new trial." See Hofstra Law Review Vol 31: 1105 at 1108.

Now come on, is that really something to be proud of? How can one not be reasonably suspicious that criminal appeals were not being handled fairly by the Mitchell court? During Mitchell and Frye's years as Chief, NC granted relief in very few criminal cases...since Lake and the Repubs took over there has been a sea-change. We went from a system where the court defaulted against crim defendants to an era of thoughtful review.

Also, it was the Mitchell led Democrat court that transferred custody of 2 children to an adultress who abandoned her family and ran off to Oklahoma because the husband was gay. This, despite strong evidence that the children loved their father, father's boyfriend and were doing really well in school. The Dem's basically changed custody law to keep a gay man from holding on to his children.

Rather than defaulting to the INDY endorsement, you might want to research for yourself about all of the candidates and really determine you should really vote for.

The INDY has not been doing a very good job in the past years looking for and really knowing the issues.

They have not really gotten know the issues involved or the record of individuals in the race. It has turned into a "good old boy" system. They rely far too much on community gossip than real facts. It is really sad to say.

Unfortunately, there isn't much unbiased info out there, especially about the judgeships. So until a more prestigious group steps in to deliver info to voters, looks like most people with limited time on their hands will pick up an Indy and vote their way. It could be worse, but it could be a LOT better. This is one forum folks can use to change that. If anyone has any strong ideas about who to pick, speak up and back it up with anecdotes/facts/interesting insights about the candidate.

So Mark, Schiller is a Republican? I'm not inclined to want to vote for a Republican for anything, so why should this election be different?

Here's a link everyone might find helpful in the struggle to figure out the Ct of Appeals race:

NCATL hasn't made an endorsement yet in this race. Very interesting. Thornburg has some good credentials, but I sure hope this apple falls further from the tree than most others.

Since NCATL hasn't endorsed, I think this one is a horse race between Thornburg and Schiller. I think the expectation was that NCATL would endorse Thornburg...since they haven't it seems like a back-handed endorsement of Schiller. Had NCATL endorsed, this race would be over, since the trial lawyers would have voted as a block while the rest of the voters scrambled to learn who these people are.

If this were still a partisan race, I think Schiller (Republican endorsed) would have won, despite Thornburg's appointed incumbency.

Britt Cobb proposes expanding the market for agricultural products by opening up foreign markets, with no mention of locally-based organic agriculture. He also talks of protecting the food supply, again with no mention of the safest food strategy - locally grown, organic food.

Tom Gilmore openly espouses fostering organic agriculture and local farming operations.



You beat me to it. I was going to write a little something about the INDY endorsements.

Another intriguing fact: the NC Academy of Trial Lawyers NCATL(full disclosure alert -- I'm a member) endorsed member Bill Faison. The Herald reported today Faison has spent 3 times as much as Barry Jacobs (endorsed by many readers and authors when the new district was first created). I wonder which power house will rule the day?!

Money, trial lawyers v. the INDY.

Quick -- How many trial lawyers in N. Orange and Caswell? . . .but then again, how many Indy readers?

I think the INDY got it pretty close to right this time. Although I agree with you about Carrington.

August 17 is a run-off election for state superintendent of schools. The candidates are:

June Atkinson

Marshall Stewart

Stewart has the best website but that's not much to go on. Anyone know anything about either of these candidates?


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.