Scrutiny Hooligans Voter GuideBy
Click here to find your nearest early voting location and hours of operation. It’s one stop voting, so you can register and vote at the same time. If you pull a straight party ticket at the polls, remember you still have to vote for President and the non-partisan races separately. There are two sides to the ballot, so turn the thing over! Voting early is the best way to ensure you don’t have any problems getting your vote counted. Click here to find the early voting location nearest you.
Click here to find the ballot that will be used at your precinct. Different precincts have different ballots due to school board and NC House races being different in different parts of the County.
If you’re interested, here’s the guide I put out for the primary.
You’ve been watching this election for almost two years. Really. That was back when John Edwards was gearing up to declare his candidacy in New Orleans, when Hillary was considered inevitable, when Democrats gained a slim majority in Congress, before the Woodfin Diesel Power Plant boondoggle. Now it’s time to continue the gains made in 2006 in building towards a more progressive Democratic Party and a healthier America. What you’ll find below are my picks for this year’s ballot. You may not agree with me, and you’re more than welcome to post your own version in the comments (or get your own blog).
A handy cut-and-paste list is at the end of the post. Feel free to email folks the link to this post. Too many people go to the polls without a clue about the down-ticket races. Help them out! See you at early voting.
President – Barack Obama v. John McCain
Obama will create cooperative solutions, even if it means compromising more than some of us would like, and this willingness can alter the scorched earth politics we’ve seen practiced since the ascension of Newt Gingrich’s Republicans in 1994. Obama has the stronger energy plan, tax plan, health care plan, education plan, Iraq plan, Afghanistan plan, and foreign policy plans. He’s bringing a new attitude to Washington, and his election will create a healthier America.
NC Senate – Kay Hagan v. Elizabeth Dole v. Christopher Cole (L)
Aside from the fact that Elizabeth Dole has been an empty suit for the duration of her Senate tenure, her support of the Bush agenda has been ruinous for our state and our nation. Kay Hagan will push for trade policies that strive to keep more jobs here at home rather than rewarding companies for shipping them abroad. Her education policy ideas are among the most comprehensive I’ve ever seen from a Senate candidate. I was a fan of her primary opponent, Jim Neal, but Hagan has won me over with her tough campaign. I just became aware today that there is a Libertarian candidate for this office. His website says he’s for eliminating the income tax and trusting in a market-based health care system.
NC-11 House Of Representatives – Heath Shuler v. Carl Mumpower v. Keith Smith (L)
Need I comment here? Hot Carl has run a campaign that looks like a doomed love affair. On again, off again. Constant arguments with his Republican supporters. Unwillingness to do what’s necessary to raise the money to run even a half-assed campaign.
Heath Shuler’s record has been strong on education, small business, alternative energy infrastructure, and labor. He’s been weak on the war and protecting human rights, but there’s no one in this race who would improve upon Shuler’s stances on those issues.
Keith Smith is a libertarian who’s pretending to be a candidate. No public appearances. A truly weird website. I’m not convinced he exists.
On Statewide Races:
What NC politics needs is better Democrats. The stultifying effects of holding a majority in Raleigh for ages have created a culture of protective inertia, where machine politics rules. As I recommend Perdue, Marshall, Dalton, Cooper, and Wood, I’m keenly aware of the paucity of reform Democrats running for statewide office. However, the Republican alternatives are members of their own Republican good ol’ boy system. We’ve got a couple of good progressives in the mix, but the majority of our candidates for statewide office are more of the same.
Two and four years from now we need to field progressives in every one of the statewide races. Until then, I feel stuck with the Democrats, though I’m not proud of many of them.
NC Governor – Bev Perdue v. Pat McCrory v. Mike Munger (L)
I feel as strongly about Perdue as I did about Kerry for President four years ago. As Lt. Governor, she’s presided over some of the worst governance I’ve seen in North Carolina. That being said, the alternatives are worse.
Pat McCrory seeks to kneecap the public education system. His voucher plan coupled with a repeal of the lottery would radically underfund our public school system just when we need to be transforming our economy into high tech manufacturing.
Mike Munger‘s worth having a look at. Some on the right and left will find some of his ideas attractive. Then they’ll realize it’s all wrapped up in a libertarian package that hasn’t ever worked anywhere and that while some ideas are attractive, other are anathema.
Kudos to the Libertarians for busting their asses to get Munger on the ballot. More choice makes for better elections, but this slate is underwhelming no matter how you slice it.
NC Lieutenant Governor – Walter Dalton v. Robert Pittenger v. Phil Rhodes (L)
Dalton was my least favorite Democratic candidate in the primary for this post, but as we’ve seen far too often, the vote was split among three superior candidates leaving us with this conservative Democrat. Dalton’s record is Shuleresque, and Pittenger’s uberconservatism looks and sounds like George W. Bush. You can watch a debate between the three candidates here. Rhodes is an orthodox libertarian who rather kookily recommends removing an amendment to NC’s Constitution that prohibits secession from the United States.
NC Secretary of State – Elaine Marshall v. Jack Sawyer
What does the Sec. of State do? The position is essentially one of chief bureaucrat, to “serve and protect citizens, the business community and governmental agencies by facilitating business activities, by providing accurate and timely information and by preserving documents and records.” This position requires a person to be transparent, efficient, and transpartisan. Marshall has done her job while keeping her nose out of politics, and that’s worth a lot.
NC Attorney General – Roy Cooper v. Bob Crumley
Cooper hasn’t done a terrible job, and when he focuses on something, it gets done fast. Here’s a brief list of recent accomplishments:
Crumley’s overfocused on illegal immigration, blaming it for more ills than it’s really responsible for. Under a Crumley administration, brown-skinned people would be in for a rough time.
NC State Auditor – Les Merritt v. Beth Wood
Wood plans to stay out of the business world while serving as NC Auditor. Incumbent Merritt’s history of providing consulting services while holding this powerful office allows for too much opportunity to abuse power and grant unfair access. Wood will also create a transition plan for the swath of retirements that’s about to take place at the State Auditor’s office.
NC State Treasurer – Janet Cowell v. Bill Daughtridge
Janet Cowell is one of the progressives on the ballot. Cowell’s record of innovation, cost-cutting, and fiscal wisdom will bring our NC Treasury into the 21st century. Bill Daughtridge? “Bill believes the Treasurer must be the voice of business on the Council of State”. He’s anti-labor in a state that desperately needs more worker protections.
NC Superintendent of Public Instruction – June Atkinson v. Richard Morgan
June Atkinson hasn’t been at this job for very long after emerging victorious in the last protracted race for Superintendent. Her commitment to keeping public education strong is unassailable. Richard Morgan’s support of vouchers will undermine support for public education at the very time when we need to redouble our efforts to achieve educational excellence in our public schools.
NC Commissioner of Agriculture – Steve Troxler v. Ronnie Ansley
Troxler, as pointed out by ScruHoo’s Doug Gibson, is against protecting farm workers from dangerous pesticides and is a big fan of genetically modified foods. Ansley understands that agriculture is not only about our food and farmers, but it’s also about our energy future.
NC State Labor Commissioner – Cherie Berry v. Mary Fant Donnan
North Carolina is officially an anti-union state. If we can ever hope to get workers a seat at the table with big business, we need a Labor Commissioner who is willing to stand up to entrenched business interests with an agenda that excludes the rights of workers. Mary Fant Donnan will protect NC workers until the day comes that they can collectively bargain with employers for their health, safety, and wages. Berry has been a hands-off Commissioner who did not support a rise in the minimum wage.
NC State Insurance Commissioner – Wayne Goodwin v. John Odom v. Mark McMains (L)
Goodwin has been working in the Insurance Commission office for some time under Jim Long. He’s taken some interesting steps, “I’m the first Insurance Commissioner candidate to refuse special interest money, and the first to accept fundraising limits. It will be my honor to continue Jim Long’s legacy of consumer protection.” John Odom makes clear his own allegiance lies with the insurance industry first. Mark McMains has a lot of good ideas, but his lack of experience will lead to insurance companies being able to manipulate the system without an effective public advocate in the office. I encourage Mr. McMains to gain more experience in this area, as his ideas are certainly worth exploring.
NC Senate, District 49 – Martin Nesbitt v. R.L. Clark
Senator Nesbitt has been on the right side of the mental health reform throughout it’s torturous process. There aren’t many heroes in this debacle, but Nesbitt is the exception. He’s also been on the right side of needle exchange programs, childrens safety, and other person-based policy initiatives. He’s one of the good guys, and we’re lucky to have him. Nesbitt’s opponent R.L. Clark is a Carolina Stomper.
NC House, District 114 – Susan Fisher running unopposed
So good that no one would run against her.
NC House, District 115 – Bruce Goforth v. Paul Perdue
Perdue is another Carolina Stomper running with a head full of that particular Stomper style. Bruce Goforth is part of the Democratic Party good ol’ boy network. Armed with the knowledge that a Stomper in office is like using a handgrenade to fix a bicycle, it’s easy to prefer Goforth in this race.
NC House, District 116 – Jane Whilden v. Tim Moffitt
It’s sad to lose Scrutiny Hooligans’ favorite Republican, Charles Thomas, but he’s decided to step down after only one term. Jane Whilden is a rock solid Democrat on the right side of the issues from education to health care. Tim Moffitt seems like a nice guy, but he’s sold on continuing the Republican policies re: free-market solutions for the health care crisis.
Buncombe County Register of Deeds – Otto DeBruhl running unopposed
This fabled member of the Old Guard’s Courthouse Gang is walking back into office. Selah.
Chairman of Buncombe County Board of Commissioners – David Gantt v. Nathan Ramsey
Aside from the Presidential race, this is the hottest contest on the ballot. With control over the Commission at stake the contrast between these two candidates is clear. Gantt supports land-use planning, increased government transparency, strengthening public schools, and maintaining health care services for all of Buncombe’s people. He was the first to come out against the Parkside Condominium project, famously remarking “We Screwed Up”.
Nathan Ramsey was against land-use planning and would work to repeal it given the opportunity. He stubbornly refused to admit that the County was at fault in the Parkside Condo land deal until after it was clear that no one bought his take on events any more.
Buncombe County Board of Commissioners – K. Ray Bailey, Holly Jones, Carol Peterson, Bill Stanley, Ron McKee, John Carroll, Mike Fryar, and Don Yelton (you may vote for up to four)
It takes three votes to accomplish anything on the Buncombe County Commission, and a Gantt, Jones, Bailey triumvirate will go a long way towards moving Buncombe County growth policies and politics into the 21st century. Holly Jones is a dedicated public servant. As director of the YWCA, she’s intimately aware of the challenges of poor working families. Her vision extends to protecting our environment in partnership with the City of Asheville and surrounding counties while encouraging growth along existing infrastructure corridors. She is a champion of government transparency.
K. Ray Bailey turned A/B Tech into a regional economic and educational engine that’s provided thousands of Buncombe residents with a leg up. He’s renowned as a collaborator and problem-solver. This is his first foray into politics, and that breath of fresh air is desperately needed on what’s become a moldy Board.
I could cast up to four votes, but I can’t bring myself to vote for any of the other candidates.
Bill Stanley has been on the wrong side of land-use planning, transparency, growth and development, and more. He’s been filling a chair for twenty years. Carol Peterson, aside from her vote in favor of zoning, has provided no leadership in her time on Commission. Her sense of entitlement and place in the Democratic Party’s Old Guard is particularly distasteful. Ron McKee has run a disinterested campaign, leaving me questioning whether he even wants the job. Don Yelton is a Carolina Stomper. Mike Fryar is a budget killing gadfly who’d like to eviscerate our Buncombe County Health Department. John Carroll is a “Hall of Famer” with the NC Association of Realtors and has never seen a development he didn’t like. Any of these Republicans will work to repeal land-use planning and limit environmental protections.
Board Of Education Seats: You won’t be voting for all of these. Check out the sample ballot for your precinct to find out which seats you’ll be voting on. There isn’t a whole lot in information on these folks, so I looked over their AC-T questionnaires, their Children First questionnaires, and their websites where available. With the exception of Alan “I am a genius” Ditmore, these candidates look a lot alike on paper.
Buncombe County Board of Education – North Buncombe – Alan Ditmore, Kevin Dodson, Ann B. Franklin, Edward Harwood
I disqualified Dodson for bad spelling and grammar, Harwood for dismissing the acheivement gap between white and black students, and Ditmore for being insane. Franklin sounds sensible, intelligent, and comprehensive.
Buncombe County Board of Education – Owen – Chris Bradford, Ben “Chip” Craig, Mark Crawford, Ryan Stone
Craig has the most innovative ideas of the candidates. His holistic, detailed responses inspire confidence and communicate his experience and optimistic temperament.
Buncombe County Board of Education – Roberson – Joe McCanless, Steven Weir Sizemore
Sizemore’s responses, in addition to being competent, comprehensive, and forward thinking, have the virtue of good spelling and grammar. Mr. McCanless, while certainly not lacking in enthusiasm or empathy, is not a good communicator.
Buncombe County Board of Education – At Large – Paul J. “Dusty” Pless running unopposed
Judicial elections: These are also really difficult to gauge. Without the time to review these judges’ rulings, I’m reduced to checking out websites. Take ’em with a grain of salt, but here are my picks.
Supreme Court Associate Justice – Robert H. “Bob” Edmunds, Jr. v. Suzanne Reynolds
Justice Edmunds is seeking re-election, and homeboy has an impeccable resume. He’s definitely qualified for the office. However, Judge Reynolds’ focus on family law and her work with the poor give her a unique perspective that isn’t represented on the court as it stands. Her resume is suitable, and her treatise on family law is the industry standard.
Court Of Appeals Seats
John C. Martin running unopposed
Jewel Ann Farlow v. James A. “Jim” Wynn
Alarm bells went off the minute I read Jewel Farlow describe herself as a “strict constructionist”. That’s the code phrase used by radically conservative judges like Roberts and Alito. Jim Wynn has a stellar resume and has been endorsed by “the North Carolina Association of Educators, the North Carolina Troopers Association, the Police Benevolent Association, the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, the AFL-CIO, lawyers and African-American organizations throughout the State, and Democratic and Republican Former Chief Justices of the North Carolina Supreme Court â€“ Burley Mitchell, James Exum, Rhoda Billings, and Henry Frye.” He has more endorsements than those, but those are the most striking.
Sam J. Ervin IV v. Kristin Ruth
Kristin Ruth, I wrote for the primary, has a “list of endorsements … impressive in its length and variety. Mr. Irvinâ€™s a legacy, and Iâ€™d like to see new people on the bench. Sheâ€™s also hip to â€œproblem-solvingâ€ court principles that take some of the load off of the courts.”
Cheri Beasely v. Doug McCullough
McCullough recently got popped for a DUI. Beasely’s got a more impressive list of endorsements. Beasely’s history as a public defender means she’s got a commitment to protecting the people no matter the situation.
Dan Barrett v. Linda Stephens
Dan Barrett advertises himself as a judge with “conservative judicial philosophy”. Stephens has the nicest website I’ve seen of any of the judicial candidates. She’s got videos at YouTube if you’d like to see her in action. She’s the only candidate I’ve seen who linked her written opinions at her website. She really goes the extra mile to be transparent and informative. Very impressive.
John S. Arrowood v. Robert N. “Bob” Hunter
This was the most difficult judicial race for me to decide. Both men have great resumes, strong endorsements, and good communication skills. Hunter got some points for having a fun blog. However, my decision came down to a case that Hunter argued. The Republican Party sued the State Board of Elections claiming that statewide elections effectively gerrymandered the state in favor of Democratic judicial candidates. This, as Hunter and other argued, was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Hunter, while kicking ass and winning what seems to me to be a very flimsy case, proved his excellence but also his partisanship. For Republicans had, indeed, been winning judicial seats in contrast to the assertions of the state Republican Party.
District Court Judge District 28 – J. Calvin Hillrunning unopposed
District Court Judge District 28 – Marvin Pope running unopposed
Buncombe Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor – Dan Brackett v. James A. Coman
James A. Coman
I can’t find diddly about this race. I’m just going with the County Democratic Party’s recommendation. Coman’s been in the Soil and Water administration for a while.
Here’s a handy list for you to cut and paste for your printing pleasure:
President – Barack Obama
Senate – Kay Hagan
Congress – Heath Shuler
Governor – Bev Perdue
Lt. Governor – Walter Dalton
Secretary of State – Elaine Marshall
State Auditor – Beth Wood
State Treasurer – Janet Cowell
Attorney General – Roy Cooper
Superintendent of Education – June Atkinson
Commissioner of Insurance – Wayne Goodwin
Commissioner of Labor – Mary Fant Donnan
Commissioner of Agriculture – Ronnie Ansley
NC Senate, District 49 – Martin Nesbitt
NC House, District 114 – Susan Fisher
NC House, District 115 – Bruce Goforth
NC House, District 116 – Jane Whilden
Buncombe County Commission Chair – David Gantt
Buncombe County Commissioners – Holly Jones and K. Ray Bailey
Board of Education – North Buncombe – Ann Franklin
Board of Education – Owen – Ben “Chip” Craig
Board of Education – Roberson – Steven Weir Sizemore
Supreme Court – Suzanne Reynolds
Court of Appeals – James Wynn, Kristin Ruth, Cheri Beasely, Linda Stephens, John Arrowood
Soil and Water Conservation – James Coman