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Vote for McCrory, Hagan and Pittenger

by Jim Longworth

Contrary to popular belief, there are not just two choices for President this year. In addition to Barack Obama and John McCain, there are four other candidates hoping to advance their particular platforms.

Independent Ralph Nader is the best known among this second tier. Nader is the father of the American consumer movement, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for single-handedly putting seat belts and air bags in cars. The addition of seat belts alone saved over 195,000 lives between 1975 and 2004. Contrast that with the 4,000 Americans, and 600,000 Iraqi civilians who have died under the Bush regime, and it’s clear to see why Nader would have made a much better president over the past eight years.

Former Republican congressman Bob Barr of Georgia is running on the Libertarian ticket, and is touting the need to return to the gold standard. Frankly, I was surprised that the Libertarians bought into Barr’s change of stripes from an arch conservative to someone willing to break from party politics. In my mind, his nomination is a farce, and damages the Libs credibility.

Cynthia McKinney is advancing environmental issues for the Green Party, but is getting no attention from the mainstream press for being both black and female. I guess reporters are just too busy covering Barack and Palin, and have thus, filled their quota on diversity.

Finally, there is Chuck Baldwin running on behalf of the Constitution party. I’m not sure which constitution that is because Baldwin primarily wants to “restore the government to its biblical foundations.” Funny, but I thought the founding fathers were big on separation of church and state.

Of the six candidates, my picks would be in this order: Nader, Obama, McKinney, Barr, McCain and Baldwin. Nader and Barr made it onto the ballot in 45 states, while Baldwin and McKinney are on 37 and 31 state ballots respectively.

As of this writing, Obama leads McCain by about nine points, with roughly 10 percent of  voters either undecided or leaning toward Nader and Barr.

Clearly the two-party system is rigged and must be reformed. Until that time, only a Republican or Democrat can muster enough electoral votes to capture the white house.  Having said that, I will still write in Nader’s name. The rest of you are “just wasting your vote.”

The race for governor is still too close for pollsters to call, and that in itself is a miracle for the GOP. Democrats have owned the governor’s mansion for most of the past hundred years, and lately they have held on to it by dodging debates.

As did Mike Easley before her, Bev Perdue seems to think that the top job should automatically go to a Democrat, and she feels no need to expose herself to the inconvenience of actually discussing issues. Perdue has been content to let her negative ads do her talking, while Pat McCrory has been appearing at every public and televised venue open to him. Last week, Perdue, McCrory and independent Mike Munger all appeared together for the first time, something they should have been doing with regularity.

There are many things on which I disagree with the Charlotte Mayor. He sees no need to end the war in Iraq quickly. He does not believe in universal healthcare. And, he would do nothing to stop the insane practice of industries which extort incentive monies out of state and local governments. Normally that would be enough to for me to vote against the man, but Perdue just can’t expect to win our state’s highest office by divine right.

After appearing individually on my TV show “Triad Today,” Both Perdue and McCrory pledged to return to the studio and have a joint discussion. But after she secured the nomination, Perdue was MIA and her staff blew off every attempt I made to bring the two candidates together. McCrory, on the other hand, called me personally to say he would appear anytime. (Watch my interview with McCrory on www.traidtoday.com)

Having been burned by Mike Easley’s disappearing act over the past eight years, we can pretty well predict that if Perdue is inaccessible now, she would be even more so after the election.

McCrory, on the other hand has proven in his seven terms as mayor of our largest city that he is accessible and can achieve solutions by working with both parties.

That’s why I support Pat McCrory for governor. Only a strong showing by Munger could deny Pat a win.

The lt. governor’s race is wide open since Bev Perdue is stepping down.

The GOP is running Mecklenburg’s Robert Pittenger, while the Democrats are offering up Walter Dalton of Rutherford. Both men serve in the state Senate, but that may be the only thing they have in common.

Dalton has worked hard to make healthcare more accessible for children and adults, the latter by giving tax credits to small businesses that offer health insurance to their employees. Pittenger, on the other hand, believes that medical malpractice litigation is to blame for the rise in healthcare costs.

Speaking of medical marvels, the Libertarians are running Phillip Rhodes who in a recent debate said that state government needs to lift “burdensome” regulations on health insurance providers. Is he kidding? Blue Cross needs more regulations and oversight, not less.

And that brings me back to Dalton who has received large donations from the President of Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC. That fact alone makes me distrust the man’s judgement and convinced that he would do nothing to reform our health insurance industry. For that reason, I endorse Pittenger.

In the surrounding Congressional districts, neither Brad Miller, Mel Watt nor Howard Coble face serious challenges. Watt and Coble have distinguished themselves, and have provided excellent constituent services. Miller, on the other hand is, well, he’s still Brad Miller. Anyone who recalls his angry rant to me, and his off the wall tactics to try and silence me following my criticism of him two years ago, will not be surprised that I cannot endorse his candidacy. On the other hand, his opponent, Hugh Webster channels Robert Pittenger in thinking that the solution to our healthcare crisis is to reform the legal system so doctors won’t worry about being sued.

However, despite being out of touch on healthcare reform, Webster does advocate scrapping the current tax code, so he can’t be all bad. So I reluctantly back Webster.

Since I am moderating a televised debate between Rep Virginia Foxx and Democrat Roy Carter next week, it would not be appropriate for me to endorse either candidate. It is, however, a matter of record that I have historically disagreed with Foxx on her pro-war stance, but I applaud her for opposing the recent bailout bill. I look forward to meeting Carter for the first time, and to being with Foxx again when we tape the debate on Wednesday, Oct. 29.   The program will air that Friday morning on abc45 and Sunday night on My48.

Sen. Richard Burr better be glad he isn’t running for re-election this year. Burr’s constant support for everything Bush, on top of a now-collapsing economy, would probably have sent the junior senator packing. Instead, it’s Elizabeth Dole who may be packing her bags after Nov. 4. Aside from the aforementioned liabilities associated with being a Republican in this year’s political climate, Dole has been virtually invisible in her adopted home state, except when traveling here to raise money. Kay Hagan, meanwhile, has distinguished herself in the state senate, and has run an aggressive (sometimes negative) television campaign that has effectively pointed out Dole’s weaknesses.

I am disappointed that neither agreed to a televised debate on “Triad Today” or anywhere else. It would have been nice to see how each woman articulated her vision for bringing North Carolina and the nation out of our malaise.

Hagan, if elected, will, no doubt, stay in closer contact with the voters than has Dole. Dole, meanwhile, recently became more accountable to her constituents when she opposed Bush’s idiotic Wall street bailout package.

But Liddy’s last-minute attempt to break with Bush is too little too late. We should give Hagan a shot at the job and see what happens.

Incumbent Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper is favored in his re-election contest with lawyer and entrepreneur Bob Crumley, a Republican.

Both men are honorable and honest advocates for the rights of individuals, but Cooper has been behind the curve on a number of issues. He waited too late to step in on the Duke lacrosse case, and his solution to the rise in illegal meth labs was to make it more difficult for me to purchase Sudafed for a stuffy nose.

Cooper has also done nothing to challenge Blue Cross Blue Shield’s policies of exclusion and rising premiums. Crumley seems like the kind of attack dog we need to unclog the backed-up crime labs, and shake up offending corporations who may be taking advantage of our citizenry. That’s why I support Bob Crumley for attorney general.

Four years ago, the race for commissioner of agriculture was a referendum on reforming the department itself. It followed the Meg Scott Phipps scandal, and her resulting resignation and imprisonment. Republican Steve Troxler, a farmer by trade, has restored integrity to the office, and kept a watchful eye over a giant agency with broad based responsibilities, ranging from inspection of gas pumps to the safety of our food. Troxler’s opponent, Democrat Ronnie Ansley, is an attorney with no farming experience, and those are two strikes against him for this job. We need to keep Troxler on the job.

For those of you with busy schedules, you can do early voting this week at your convenience, and avoid the long lines on Nov. 4. Either way, I encourage everyone to participate in the political process. Remember, every vote counts, except in Florida.

Jim Longworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Fridays at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).

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