by Bob Geary
[Update, 2/18:: Sen. Dan Blue did come to the Wake Dems event last night, planted himself by the entry and worked to plant the idea that he is, in fact, giving serious thought to entering the gubernatorial primary. "Don't read too much in" to his not having been at the RWCA meeting Thursday, he said to me. So you're running? "I'm leaning," Blue said with a smile. I assume he meant leaning in the direction of being a candidate. He said he was having some meetings this weekend with potential supporters. With Brad Miller not running, Blue has a clear path to progressive support + Triangle support + African-American support.
[Blue did decline, as the N&O noted, an invitation to do 2 minutes on stage after announced candidates Walter Dalton, Bob Etheridge and Bill Faison did their turns. Truth is, the fact that Cal Cunningham, who ran the show, looked so expectant as he looked over to him said more about Blue's possible candidacy than any maybe-yes, maybe-no comments Blue might've offered.
[One other possible complication. Former Treasurer Richard Moore, who did not attend last night, is also a likely entrant, I was told by someone in contact with him. Moore has some progressive credentials. But he'd make four white males in the field (not counting either of the unknown candidates who filed yesterday), assuming all of them run.
[On that score, Faison on Thursday was handing out predictions that Etheridge, though he's announced, will decide soon not to actually file. Etheridge last night shrugged at Faison's comment. "Stay tuned," he told me.]
Here's the original post from 2/17 —
The Wake Republican Party put on a show last night at Dorton Arena. It was one-stop shopping for those of us not on the in of GOP politics. Then over to the Raleigh Wake Citizens Association meeting, where Democrats were gathered to install the Rev. Earl Johnson as the new RWCA leader — the meeting was at Johnson's Martin Street Baptist Church in the community center — and plot their strategies.
Here's what I gleaned:
* If Sen. Dan Blue is serious about running for governor in the Democratic primary, nobody at RWCA, the leading African-American political organization in the city, seemed to know anything about it. Two other gubernatorial candidates were there, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and state Rep. Bill Faison. Not Blue, though, whose constituency this would be if he ran.
* Dalton was gone by the time I arrived, but Faison was still shaking hands. Faison was predicting that former Congressman Bob Etheridge, the third announced Democrat, won't actually file for the office. (The filing period ends Feb. 29.) Faison opined that Etheridge isn't hearing good things about his prospective candidacy as he clicks the phone for dollars and support — that YouTube diaster from '10, Faison said. I'd dismiss this as self-promotion except that Faison correctly predicted that Gov. Bev Perdue wouldn't run for re-election, and I pooh-poohed that at the time.
* Etheridge, Dalton and Faison are supposed to speak tonight at the Wake Dems Valentine's Day thing at the NCAE building, 5:30. We'll see.
* On the Republican side, Pat McCrory is a much-improved public speaker from four years ago, when he lost to Perdue. McCrory's keynote to the GOP gathering (supposedly 1,900 in attendance; it's a great idea to hold all the precinct organizing meetings in one hall) wasn't great oratory, nor was there much policy heft to it. But it did have a theme — he's running against the "Easley-Perdue culture" to the strains of "We Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who — and pledges to 1) search for natural gas on land and sea, and 2) sign all the bills that the GOP-led legislature passed that Perdue vetoed. "Including Voter ID," McCrory said to huge applause.
* Oh, and no tax increases for anything. "Do more with less" will be the order of the day for schools and everybody else when he's the boss, McCrory said.
I'm struck with the thought this morning that the average GOP politician is not much interested in local offices, despite their professed belief in keeping government close to the people. They seem drawn only to state-level and federal offices where it's possible to make laws against local governments accomplishing anything.
* Thus, three of the remaining four GOP members of the Wake school board are looking to move on. (Up?) Debra Goldman — with freshly printed gold business cards — sees herself as the State Auditor. Ohhh-kay. John Tedesco is running for Superintendent of Public Instruction, of course, and Chris Malone is a candidate for a seat in the state House of Representatives. Only Deborah Prickett remains interested in the school system she and her Republican mates were running until the fall elections.
* Dorton Arena was lousy with candidates for higher office — former Wake Commissioner Kenn Gardner, e.g., running for Secretary of State (!) — but very short on candidates for the Wake County Board of Commissioners. I see from the filings that Paul Fitts, who ran for Raleigh City Council last year, has filed to run for a commissioner's seat against Democratic incumbent Betty Lou Ward. I don't think Fitts was on hand last night, and for that matter, I don't remember that any other candidates for the Wake Board of Commissioners were announced. Three Democrats — Ward, Erv Portman and James West — have terms expiring this year; the other four commissioners seats, elected in '10 for four-year terms, are held by Republicans. But two of the four, Paul Coble and Tony Gurley, are angling for higher office — Coble for Congress in the 13th District and Gurley for lieutenant governor.
At the RWCA, I heard that Betty Lou Ward is planning to seek another term, which would be her 7th. She's been on the Wake Commissioners board since 1988 and I thought she'd decided that was enough. She hasn't filed as yet.
James West is also running — and has filed. As for Erv Portman ...
* There's a "Draft Portman" movement to get him to run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Richard Stevens. The 17th Senate District is listed as "leaning Republican," but not solidly Republican, by the N.C. Free Enterprise Foundation. With Stevens not seeking re-election, if it's a Democratic year a Democrat could take it away ... and Portman, a business owner and previously a Cary Town Council member, fits the profile of the moderate Democrat who could appeal to swing votes in this suburban realm. Portman hasn't said no.
* Then there's the 15th Senate District, also listed as "leaning" GOP but not solid by NCFEF. The GOP incumbent is Sen. Neal Hunt, whose conservative voting record could make him vulnerable in a Democratic year. And the Democrats have persuaded a very strong candidate to go against him. Sig Hutchinson, the county's leading greenways advocate, transit proponent (past chair of the Triangle Transit Authority) and all-around good guy, will announce on Monday that he's taking on Hunt, I was told. Hutchinson makes his living as a marketing consultant and public speaker. He could give McCrory lessons.
And that is what I've got, except for this swell picture I took of some other GOP candidates.
From right to left, they are: Doug Yopp, running for Congress in District 4 (David Price is the Democratic incumbent); Jeanne Smoot (didn't hear what she's running for, and she hasn't filed for anything; she ran for DPI Superintendent in 2004); George Holding, who's up against Coble and Bill Randall in the primary for Congress, 13th District; Michael Schriver, who's running for state Senate in the new 18th District (Franklin Co. and part of eastern Wake); Debra Goldman, running for State Auditor; and Chad Barefoot, who's also running in state Senate District 18.