Archive for NC Senate race

I was hoping someone with a clue would pay attention. They reference my Thom’s Tholl Road op-ed in both commercials:

Democrats Attack Tillis Over North Carolina Toll Project

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Oct
23

Koch allies court NC stoners

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Last night a colleague forwarded an email she received from an NC friend:

I was watching the Good Wife on Hulu Plus last night, and this ad with a couple of attractive young people talking about how cool it is that Sean Haugh wants to legalize marijuana. When it came up a few minutes later, I realized it couldn’t be for real, and I searched it on the internet, and yes, it’s the Kochs trying to pull votes away from Kay Hagan.

It is one of a series of 10 commercials that “came as a complete surprise” to Haugh. Whatever you are hearing from pollsters about the senate race in North Carolina, yes, Thom Tillis’ backers are just that desperate. Matt Phillippi at PoliticsNC:

Like many Americans I got rid of cable several years ago and now get a lot of my TV from streaming internet services. I was watching Hulu last night, and saw not one, but two different ad spots supporting Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh. This is odd in itself, because political campaigns rarely advertise there (with the exception of the President in 2012). The ads looked very homespun, and only really got my attention because the message of the first one was “Get Haugh, Get High” with young people holding up pictures of marijuana while wearing tie-dyes and Bob Marley T-Shirts, which seemed a little outlandish even for a Libertarian candidate. The second ad positioned Haugh as the anti-war candidate, and labeled Hagan as a “War Monger” literally labeled, right over her picture. That was when I read the ‘paid for’ tags on the bottom of the ad.

The ads were paid for by the American Futures Fund, a 501(c)4 organization started in 2008 by several members of Mitt Romney’s first presidential primary campaign staff. The organization claims to promote “Conservative, free-market ideals.” In reality the organization spends the majority of its money attacking Democratic candidates. According to Opensecrets.org, during the 2013-2014 cycle, AFF has spent 84% of its money attacking Democratic candidates and 16% supporting Republicans (scroll down on that link for a nice graph illustrating this).

Hagan laughed when I told her on Saturday that Thom Tillis was her best campaigner. Tillis’ backers apparently think so too if they are down to this Hail Mary play in an attempt to draw votes away from Hagan.

Early voting gets under way in North Carolina this morning.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Note: There are 8 Democrats in the Appeals Court race where John Arrowood is listed. He is the candidate endorsed by the NCDP Executive Council.

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Oct
06

Are You Doing Enough?

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Nicole Sandler at Radioornot posts this guest piece by the amazing Billy Wimsatt:

Guest post by Billy Wimsatt who joins me on the show this morning at 10:30ET. Listen live or come back later for the podcast.

I’m freaking out about the Senate. I woke up this morning and thought:

WE HAVE TO DO MORE!!!

I’m freaking out BOTH because Mitch McConnell controlling the Senate is terrifying AND because I believe we can stop it.

Looking at the FiveThirtyEight Senate Forecast, there are at least three races likely to be decided by somewhere between 1 vote and 17,000 votes.

senate chart

Iowa has been a 1 point race consistently since June (the Republican is ahead). That translates to roughly 11,000 votes we need to make up (out of approximately 1.1 million likely to be cast).

Colorado has become a 1 point race in the last month with the Republican ahead. This translates to roughly 17,000 votes we need to make up (out of 1.7 million votes cast).

Alaska has widened to a 3 point race with the Republican leading. But this translates to only 7,500 votes (of 250,000 total cast).

If we win 2 of these 3 races, plus Kansas, North Carolina, and New Hampshire (where the Dem-leaning candidates are ahead by 3-4 points), we can save the freaking Senate.

Yesterday, I freaked out and authorized VOTE MOB to hire 20-25 organizers in Kansas (where we currently have 8 paid organizers). This morning, I woke up and thought: Let’s do the same in Iowa (where we currently have 3). I’m talking with partners in Alaska and Colorado about what else we can do to help.

Mind you, VOTE MOB doesn’t have money to do this (we still need to raise at least another $80k). But I’m willing to break the bank and take money away from other states and projects if necessary. So any support people can send to VOTE MOB or other groups is appreciated (see this 2014 Hot List for ideas of key state and local groups).

But I believe there’s even more we must do. To turn out more voters, we need a lot more people talking to a lot more people – especially on and around campuses and in communities of color. If turnout in 2014 is similar to 2010, more than 300,000 Iowa Democrats who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 will not show up at the polls.

All we need to do is GOTV 1 in 30 of these progressive drop off-voters (who are disproportionately folks under 30 and people of color) and we can swing the Senate race in Iowa

Getting out another 7,500 or 17,000 progressive voters in these states is totally do-able. We just have to remind folks what day the election is, help them find their polling place – easy stuff. In Iowa, there is currently in-person Early Voting. So you can literally grab people off the street or out of dorms in Iowa City and drag them to register and vote in 15 minutes. It’s SO easy.

I’m serious. Everyone in DC needs to take a leave from work, get on a damn plane and go to Iowa or Colorado or another swing state -or do SOMETHING. We’re not going to do anything done but play defense on every issue for the next two years if Republicans control the Senate. Climate people – if Mitch McConnell becomes Senate Majority Leader, he is literally planning to get rid of the EPA. And as we know, he will shut-down the government to do it. Ditto for every issue folks are working on.

What else can we do? What else are you willing to do?  I will raise money to fly people to Iowa if I can. I will help find folks good volunteer placements and places to stay. (Yes, there are lots of other important states that will help determine control of the Senate and Governors and other races which are arguably just as important). So go to Florida or Michigan or Illinois or Wisconsin or North Carolina or Georgia – or wherever you want to go!

But seriously… we need to prioritize this election. We have to learn the lesson from 2010 – and for that matter, from 2000. Stopping a GOP Senate take-over affects every issue and every person each of us cares about. We cannot sit this out.

We have to start treating mid-term elections like Presidential elections. Or else we’re gonna have 2010 all over again – which is totally preventable. It is not too late to change the outcome. I would challenge anyone to come up with something more important to do over the next 4 weeks.

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Sep
28

Funny, how that works

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Perhaps it is not just a coincidence or a quirk of American policy-making that the words “innovation” and “reform” lately seem to attach themselves to ideas that drive more public money, public infrastructure, and public control into the hands of private investors. Nor that this meme is driven by lobbyists for public-private partnerships (P3s) where corporations stand to rack up profits by privatizing the commons.

Whether it is turning over state prisons to for-profit Corrections Corporation of America or public education over to publicly traded K12 Inc., we are to believe that despite the scandals and poor outcomes, the private sector will always do a better job than big gummint. We hear the private sector is more “efficient” than efforts run by the people and for the people. But more efficient at what?

This last week, as we noted, ITR Concession Co, and its parent company, the Spanish-Australian consortium Cintra-Macquarie declared bankruptcy on its concession to operate the Indiana Toll Road. The 75-year deal fell apart after only eight.

But getting back to efficiency. Think maybe the Germans could do it better? Maybe not.

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Sep
23

A North Carolina Bridgegate?

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As corporate-carpetbagger friendly as the NCGOP has made North Carolina since taking control of the legislature in 2010, they keep surprising. This latest revelation Monday from North Carolina echoes the billion-dollar, Hudson Lights real estate deal thought connected to Gov. Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal. WCNC-Charlotte has video here.
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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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