Campaign trail moments of the week

by Jordan Green

Wade favored by law enforcement

One of the most significant endorsements in the NC Police Benevolent Association’s slate on Oct. 11 was for Republican Trudy Wade, who is running for the open seat in the Democratic-leaning NC Senate District 28. The endorsement gives yet another advantage to Wade, who already benefits from Democratic nominee Gladys Robinson and registered Democrat Bruce Davis splitting the black Democratic vote. The PBA recommended Wade based on a commitment “to making strong, effective law enforcement a priority in her campaign.”

Coble punts income inequality to Turner

When a voter at the Congregational Church of Christ’s Oct. 13 candidate forum in Greensboro posed an impassioned question about the nation’s widening income gap between the rich and poor during the segment featuring candidates for US House District 6, Republican incumbent Howard Coble handed the microphone to Democratic challenger Sam Turner. “Thanks,” Turner said, prompting peals of laughter. Coble insisted that he had gone first in answers to the previous three questions, and it was only fair. Turner said he shared the voter’s concerns, and expressed the view the problem has been caused by free-trade policies that make it cheaper for corporations to transfer production abroad and a tax code that results in corporations “paying half of what they were back in the ’50s.” Coble’s contribution: “If we’re even remotely considering raising taxes in the dismal state that the economy is in, I think it would be a mistake.”

Routh jumps in Yon-Jeffus fray

A week earlier, NC House District 59 candidates Theresa Yon (Republican challenger) and Maggie Jeffus (Democratic incumbent) had staked out opposite positions on a proposal to mandate that 65 cents out of every dollar allocated to education be spent in the classroom (Yon, for; Jeffus, against). On 13, Nancy Routh, the incumbent Guilford County School Board at large candidate, was relatively easy on opponent Lisa Ingle Clapp, but she took some tough shots against Yon without mentioning her by name. “A lot of things get classified as administrative,” Routh said. “You’re talking about employees who are bus drivers, who are maintenance folks, who are custodians, who are cafeteria workers — all of those who are necessary to provide the services.” Referencing the 65-cents-on-the-dollar mandate, the twoterm school board member continued, “Well, define classroom. Do you mean that you now want the teacher to have to clean the floor and fix the lunches and all of that which you have to do if you’re going to be maintaining that classroom?”

Simkins PAC (lite) assists Davis

Even though challenger Joe Floyd Jr. announced his withdrawal from a Guilford County superior court race, his name will still appear on the ballot, and “undersigned African-American citizens” Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston, NC Rep. Earl Jones, Steve Bowden, Charlene Y. Armstrong and Joe Williams are taking no chances that incumbent Lindsay Davis will win the race. Black voters received a mailing on Oct. 13, trumpeting Davis as having “the temperament and compassion needed to guide our court system as we explore ways to save our youth that are trouble. Alston, Jones, Bowden and Williams are members of the George C. Simkins Jr. Memorial PAC.

Galifianakis endorsement

Unfortunately, I’m unable to confirm this directly because I’m still waiting for Zack Galifianakis to accept my Facebook friend request. So I rely on a blog post by News & Record reporter Mark Binker, who says the actor-comedian endorsed Democrat Billy Kennedy in the US House District 5 race with this note: “Hi, NC. Just a reminder of who Virginia Foxx is. She is not cool and no relation to Redd Foxx.” The endorsement is not as strange as it might first seem, as Binker writes: “He’s from Wilkesboro, for starters. His parents still live there. He owns property in the county. And he has deep family ties to the Democratic Party. His uncle, Nick Galifianakis, served in the NC House and the US House, and ran unsuccessfully against Jesse Helms for US Senate in 1972. In fact, it was Nick Galifianakis’ Greek heritage that prompted Helms’ famous slogan: ‘Jesse Helms: He’s One of Us.’”

Pork, bluegrass and corporate schmoozing

The Triad Real Estate and Building Industries Coalition, or TREBIC’s annual “Pig, Poultry and Politics” event, which took place on Oct. 14 this year, is billed as an “old-fashioned political rally,” but a note on the organization’s website stipulates, “This event is not open to the general public.” The “pig” in the event title refers to the barbecue pork served on the banquet table. In that context, “poultry” and “politics” should need no explanation. Bluegrass with patriotic flourishes is the music of choice. This year, as is usually the case, candidates struggled to be heard above the din of schmoozing, including Greensboro Partnership lobbyist Jason Cannon, who cornered NC House Rep. Maggie Jeffus.

Bummer: The bar was removed

While TREBIC’s fete was winding down, the party over at Margaret & Bill Benjamin’s graceful domicile in Irving Park was just getting started. It was a fundraiser for Pricey Harrison, the Democratic incumbent in NC House District 57, who grew up in the house. The candidate’s sister, Laura Edwards, reminisced about a childhood in a lively political household where onetime electeds the likes of Yvonne Johnson, Carolyn Allen and Margaret Arbuckle made their way through before declaring their candidacies. Edwards said she and her niece “decided that we’re all bummed out that the bar between the living room and the library’s been taken away, so there’s no more Scotch…. You know, we’ll do what we can. We have to make do.”

File under, ‘Thanks, I guess’

Among the “qualified, committed openly LGBT candidates” endorsed last week by the Washington-based Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund is Marcus Brandon, the Democratic nominee in the NC House District 60 race.

The endorsement came as a surprise even to Brandon, who has not discussed his sexuality during the campaign and said he did not seek the political action committee’s support. Even more interesting than the revelation was the response. Guilford County Republican Party Executive Director Tony Wilkins was only one of two GOP members commenting on News & Record editorialist Doug Clark’s blog. “I had the pleasure of meeting this extraordinary young man during the campaign through a mutual friend,” Wilkins wrote. “He speaks from the heart and you can expect him to positively affect many people’s lives as his political career begins.”

Jeff Hyde will dust your house

Jeff Hyde, the Republican candidate for NC Senate District 27, made a call on Oct. 15 when questioned by a GTCC student on whether he would support continued funding for state assistance with housekeeping for disable citizens. “In your specific case, I’m sure that the community you live in — if the government were to cut whatever that program is, I’m sure that the community you live in, there are benevolent hearts that would come in and help you,” Hyde said. “To think that we need government to solve the dusting of your house I think is wrong.” The woman’s remarks suggested that, in fact, it is her mother who relies on state assistance. Hyde was undeterred by her insistence that no one else was able to handle the chore. “Give me your phone number,” he said, “and I’ll make sure your house is dusted, if I have to do it myself.”

They’re taking our country back

The header of a press release by Durham-based Democracy North Carolina on Monday needs no elucidation: “White Republican men lead record pace of early voting.” The opening paragraph noted that “after three days, one-stop early voting is off to a record-shattering pace for midterm elections” in North Carolina. The elections watchdog group noted that the record participation of white Republican men marks a stunning reversal from two years ago, when black Democratic women led other groups in early voting, helping Democrat Barack Obama carry the state.