Archive for NC Senate race

Last night, FiveThirtyEight blog reported a marked shift in polling on the NC Senate contest between incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan and NC House Speaker Thom Tillis.

In North Carolina, a Rasmussen Reports poll found Democrat Kay Hagan ahead of Republican Thom Tillis 45 percent to 39 percent. Tillis had led in the previous Rasmussen survey by 5 percentage points. Another North Carolina poll released Thursday, by SurveyUSA, gave Hagan a 3-point lead (46 percent to 43 percent).

Combined, the two polls move Hagan from a “45 percent underdog to a 61 percent percent favorite.” But there’s not much analysis on why.

Let’s speculate, shall we?

In part, Hagan has opened up a 21-point advantage over Tillis among women. The “war on women” message has taken such a bite out of the NCGOP that the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity feels the need to cut an ad to sell Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, to women way out in WNC. Thanks to Tim Moffitt, ladies, you’ll be glad to know you have “the power to determine your own destiny,” to invest and to keep more of your money away from Raleigh. Just don’t keep it in your pants. That’s one area Tillis, Tim, and their friends in Raleigh have made sure by law that you don’t control.

More and more, Tillis and close associates seem to be alienating their own base.

WidenI77 held a town hall meeting in Mooresville on Tuesday to explain how “Thom’s Tholl Road” on I-77 would work. The NCDOT is already signing agreements with a Spain-based contractor for the 50-year tolling contract I wrote about in the AC-T. WidenI77’s presentation above details many of the unknowns in the contract, raising concerns about cost and privacy as well as the fact that paying tolls to a foreign vendor for 50 years siphons vast sums of money out of the local economy. The tea party, libertarians, and GOP activists are increasingly unhappy about the prospect. So much so that it seems Tillis and his lieutenants are having to fan out to defend the deal before angry constituents.

After the town hall, Rep. Bill Brawley, R-Mecklenburg, got an earful from Republican and independent attendees about corruption they suspect in the highway deal he’s backed along with Tillis. Ashevillians will remember Brawley as one of Moffitt’s allies on the legislative study to look into transferring the Asheville Water System to a regional authority. He was in the posse Moffitt brought with him to face angry parents at a May education rally at Roberson High School in Buncombe County. Brawley, Moffitt, and Nathan Ramsey, R-Buncombe, co-sponsored the bill to wrest control of Charlotte-Douglas airport from the city of Charlotte.

Speaker Pro Tem, Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, is having to face a meeting of the Southern Wake Republican Club this coming Tuesday. Stam gets to rebut a presentation by NC Citizens Against Toll Roads that believes that legislative efforts to promote public-private partnerships “violates the state constitution, and delegates taxing authority” to unelected officials. They may mistrust government, but they mistrust a marriage between government and business even more.

Tolls and public-private partnerships (P3s) are the new funding model these politicians are promoting, not just for I-77 but for future highway expansion projects across North Carolina. And over objections from angry conservative businessmen, Republican officials, and party activists. Perhaps those are more reasons why Tillis’ senatorial prospects are headed south.

How much weight would Tim Moffitt, the former co-chair of the state’s House Select Committee on Public-Private Partnerships (2011), and Brawley (the other co-chair), and Tillis give to local objections when it is time to widen I-26?

(Barry Summers contributed much source material for this post.)

Categories : NC Senate race
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Sep
10

Math is hard

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TillisCaptureNorth Carolina’s Republican House Speaker, Thom Tillis, wants to be the state’s next U.S. senator. He’s finding it a tough sell. Tea party members and Republican small businessmen oppose Tillis for pushing for toll lanes on I-77 in his own district and elsewhere in the state. Then, someone anonymously slipped a provision into a must-pass budget bill that “allows warrantless drone surveillance at all public events … or any place which is in ‘plain view’ of a law enforcement officer.” Privacy advocates from left to right cried foul.

Next, Tillis was been pilloried for “mansplaining” both in his debate with incumbent Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan and in a TV ad where he uses “simple math” (just numbers on a white board) to show how math is lost on Hagan. The Tillis ad spotlights the average 7% raise he claims state teachers received under his leadership (only after the loud public outcry over Republican education cuts in an election year). Well, not so fast.

When Gov. Pat McCrory wrote to welcome teachers back to the classroom, he touted a “substantial” pay raise that amounted to “an average pay increase of 5.5 percent for teachers.”

That might have been exciting news, except that legislative leaders have been touting a 7 percent average pay raise for more than a month. House Speaker Thom Tillis trumpets that 7 percent figure as “simple math” in a recent campaign ad for his U.S. Senate campaign.

McCroryCapture

I guess math is hard for Pat and Thom.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Sep
08

Whose Side Are You On?

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Warren on solving the student debt crisis:

Young people are– they’re not buying homes, they’re not starting small businesses. They’re struggling with the student loan debt. It’s bringing them down. It’s bringing their parents down. This is something that America sees, understands. We know which side families stand on and we know which side the millionaires and billionaires stand on. For me, it’s time to choose and that’s what I’ve learned about Washington. You make people choose, sometimes they make good choices.

Which side are you on? Warren is crystal clear.

Sen. Kay Hagan needs to answer that question definitively. Reacting to last week’s debate between Hagan and NC Speaker Thom Tillis, the News & Observer sees An empty race for the U.S. Senate: “This exorbitantly funded Senate contest has taken a page from Seinfeld. It is a race about nothing. With Seinfeld, it was funny. With Hagan-Tillis, it’s sad.”

Hagan has a large and vigorous field operation across the state which may carry her to a second term. But as “the most moderate senator,” she’s giving voters little to get off the couch and vote for. The N&O asks:

Is it too much to expect politicians at this level to engage in a bold debate about the issues that matter? Over a thousand Moral Monday protesters gave themselves up to arrest because they felt passionately about the state’s direction under its Republican leadership. Just Thursday, fast-food workers in North Carolina were arrested after they joined a national protest demanding a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Can’t people seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate take the risk of taking a stand?

“Moderate” may be poll-tested and consultant-approved, but will it get Democrats out to vote in a mid-term election this November?

Hagan’s campaign could use a dash of hot sauce. Or whatever Breakfast of Champions Elizabeth Warren eats every morning.

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Aug
30

Thom’s way or no highway

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Besides his woman problem, North Carolina GOP Senate nominee Thom Tillis has a toll problem. And a base problem.

Interstate 77 in Tillis’ district badly needs widening. But Thom and his ALEC buddies insist on installing High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes over objections from his party, local Republican lawmakers, and a conservative think tank in Raleigh. His local tea party calls the I-77 project Thom’s Tholl Road.

The GOP is expert at exploiting wedge issues to divide and conquer opponents. But here the wedge is intraparty. There is a split among the GOP’s right-wing populists, its libertarian ideologues, and it’s ALEC-friendly, crony corporatists. It seems HOT lanes have become a flash point. Free-marketeer libertarians consider that when government (We the People) provides any product or service on a not-for-profit basis, it’s another big-government crime against capitalism; they favor anything that gets government out of the way of private profit. Grassroots fiscal conservatives see schemes such as HOT lanes — contracted to foreign conglomerates, funded with federal loans, and with private profit margins backstopped with state tax dollars — as yet another example of crony capitalism screwing taxpayers. It is. And it’s just what the Koch brothers’ privateers want more of.

So how big a wedge is this? Behold the Weekly Standard from April, critiquing at length a 75-year, single-bidder HOT lanes concession in Virginia:

The arrangement is every capitalist’s dream: free land, developed with taxpayer money, for privatized profits and socialized losses.

Of course, in the Weekly Standard’s fever dream it’s not rent-seeking corporatists ramrodding privatization of America’s highways, but progressive ideologues (and libertarians) bent on discouraging a middle-class lifestyle they find “distasteful.”

Thom Tillis himself did not address the HOT lane issue at an appearance before a group of business leaders in Asheville Friday morning (timestamp 1:00:00). But as party activists and business-minded constituents have before, several times on Friday questioners asked state candidates about highway funding and the possibility of seeing of “dynamic tolling” on I-77 and I-26. These aren’t progressives and libertarians. They are Thom Tillis’ base voters. And they are uneasy.

Hard to tell, but when even conservative are worried about the impact ALEC’s designs might have for their small businesses, tolls just might be a sleeper issue for Republicans that so far the press has missed.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Aug
29

Friday Open Thread

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Are we not men? WE ARE CIBO!

Let’s see? Who’s on tap this morning at CIBO?

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Aug
25

About Those Toll Lanes

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About Thom’s Tholl Road I wrote about yesterday,

Tillis expects to fund highway projects all across North Carolina using tolls. WSOC-Charlotte reported this summer that a round trip from Mooresville to Charlotte on Tillis’ I-77 HOT lanes could cost commuters $20 every weekday.

People in the Charlotte area — especially those struggling with low-paying jobs — are asking about the cost to use Spain-based Cintra’s toll lanes.

“Who knows?”

That’s how the man in charge of proposed Interstate 77 toll lanes responded to a town commissioner’s question about whether tolls could max out in another 20 years at more than $40 round trip.

[...]

“There is no one I have spoken to that believes an eleven dollar trip is reasonable in any way,” said Cornelius Town Commissioner John Bradford. “These numbers have really set off a lot of alarms and bells.”

Asheville has an interstate highway expansion project in the works, too. What would you be willing to pay? What would state Reps. Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey consider reasonable for you to pay?

May
13

PAC Ad Tags Thom Tillis

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With the primaries over, North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race pits incumbent Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan against NC House Speaker Rep. Thom Tillis. In this His record presents a target-rich environment

Senate Majority PAC went immediately after NC House Speaker Rep. Thom Tillis last week, filming its first post-primary ad at Tillis’ victory party on Tuesday and releasing it Friday. Tillis clinched the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and will face incumbent Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan in the fall.

Senate Majority PAC is spending $850,000 to air the ad for two weeks statewide on broadcast and cable stations. It brings the outside group’s total spending to $4.4 million in the North Carolina Senate race, adding to ads it aired earlier this year to boost Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and attack Tillis.

Thomas Mills at Politics NC blog calls the ad “ballsy.”

It’s a great spot. The narrator is approachable and is talking to the audience, not at them. The concept is creative, attention-grabbing, and unique. The message is strong and begins to define Tillis’ “conservative revolution.” The legislature is too conservative for this purple state and Tillis needs to own his actions.

If Tillis doesn’t, someone else us ready to do it for him.

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There are a lot of self-described patriots in this country who really don’t much like this country. (I mean the real one, not their imaginary one.) Jon Stewart pointed out how the gun-toting militiamen surrounding Cliven “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing” Bundy could at least have created their own flag instead of waving the flag of the government they don’t recognize.

North Carolina Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Dr. Greg Brannon, may or may not be a self-described patriot, but he’s endorsed by Tea Party Patriots (of the Bundy kind?). He’s quoted as saying this about discussing guns after the Sandy Hook shootings:

“Senator Hagan says we got to have a nice debate and discussion (about gun control) about what to do. See that’s called a democracy which is actually socialism which is called majority rule.”

Perhaps Brannon napped through civics class? He doesn’t seem to approve of democracy, of majority rule, yet he’s hoping to be elected to the United States Senate by a majority. Because that’s how elections work in the real America. How they work in the Tea Party’s fantasy one is anybody’s guess.

Certain fringe types love to correct you if you call America a democracy. It’s a republic, non-elite patriots insist as pedantically as condescendingly. Perhaps because republic sounds like Republican, and because that word has better mouth feel than anything sounding like Democrat. But for your Bircher, as the sign suggests, it’s more than that. Democracy isn’t just majority rule; it’s mob rule. And, oh, they fear it.

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Feb
26

Organizing for 2014

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Your Buncombe County Democratic Party needs you. We’re getting organized to make some change in 2014 elections, and every registered Democrat is invited to be a part of it. After the jump please find the time and location of your precinct meeting. Not sure which precinct you’re in? Use this handy tool.

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wolfWhen the NC General Assembly political advertisements rain down upon us later this year, you’ll be hearing a lot about the tax cuts being peddled as good for the little guy. Yes, the cuts will further reduce resources for education, mental health, and other important services. Yes, the cuts will give the wealthiest North Carolinians some nice wallet padding, some of which will trickle down into campaign coffers. The thing that NC Policy Watch wants everyone to know is that these tax cuts are actually a tax increase on most of us. Please bookmark this post – you will need it to counter the coming disinformation campaign from the ruling party.

Excerpts:

66—percentage of tax cut passed by the 2013 General Assembly that will go to the wealthiest one percent of North Carolinians (“Final tax plan puts at risk what makes North Carolina great,” N.C. Budget & Tax Center, August, 2013)

940,000—amount in dollars of annual income of wealthiest one percent of North Carolinians (Ibid)

80—percentage of North Carolina taxpayers—the bottom 80 percent—who will pay more under the tax plan approved by the General Assembly this summer that also allows the state Earned Income Tax Credit expire for low-wage workers (Ibid)

[...]

2,898—amount in dollars of tax INCREASE for married non-elderly couple with two kids with a small business income of $80,000 (Ibid)

262—amount in dollars of tax INCREASE for married couple with two children with an annual income of $20,000 (N.C. General Assembly Fiscal Research Division)

2,318—amount in dollars of the DECREASE in taxes for a married couple with two children with an annual income of $250,000 (Ibid)

23—number of days since state tax deductions ended for retirement income, small businesses, unreimbursed job expenses and college 529 savings plans, all part of the 2013 tax plan passed by the General Assembly