Let’s recap the wild week in the race for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat | Triangulator | Indy Week

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Let’s recap the wild week in the race for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat

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You may have missed it, what with all the power outages and hillside sledding and busting ass on the ice that we did this weekend, but it's been a wild week in a heretofore uneventful race for U.S. Senate. Let's take a quick trip down memory lane, shall we?

First, on Thursday—the same day a poll found the race wide open—word spread that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had endorsed former state legislator and state ACLU director Deborah Ross.

Before this cycle, it was rare for the national party to intervene in a primary, but after the thrashing Democrats received in 2014, the DSCC has apparently decided its finger needs to go more firmly on the scale. Thus far, the DSCC has intervened in four races this primary season, endorsing Harry Reid's favored successor in Nevada, former governor Ted Strickland in Ohio, moderate Patrick Murphy over liberal firebrand Alan Grayson in Florida, and now Ross. They want to win, by God, and they don't want your messy "democracy" mucking it up.

Her opponents—two of whom, Durham businessman Kevin Griffin and Spring Lake mayor Chris Rey, had previously argued that Ross' ACLU work rendered her unelectable (Triangulator, Jan. 13)—weren't thrilled. But the DSCC's GOP counterparts were, or, at least, they pretended to be.

"As Ross cozies up to the Washington establishment," the National Republican Senatorial Committee said in a quickly issued press release, "it's worth noting that Ross has already been deemed 'the most liberal NC Democratic nominee in history.'"

The GOP bashed Ross' "support of radical ACLU policies" and her work for the civil liberties group. The Republicans also needled the Dems for failing to land their ideal candidates, Anthony Foxx and Kay Hagan.

But the RSCC's professed euphoria about Ross is belied by Sen. Richard Burr's middling poll numbers: After five years on the job, his approval rating is stuck in the low 30s. Burr does, however, have a commanding primary lead over Greg Brannon, a tea-partying Cary OB/GYN.

But then Burr went and (according to the Associated Press) told donors that he would sooner vote for dirty socialist Bernie Sanders than God-fearing Republican Ted Cruz, because Ted Cruz is an insufferable little prick (and always was: Google "Ted Cruz world domination") whom nobody likes, not even his GOP colleagues.

This is a reasonable decision—unless, that is, you're running in a Republican primary. Brannon immediately issued a statement: "Of course he would prefer an avowed Socialist to a man like Ted Cruz who has stood up to the Washington Establishment."

Burr's camp promptly denied ever saying such a thing and demanded a retraction. The AP stood by its report. We know whom we believe.

Reach the INDY's Triangulator team at triangulator@indyweek.com.

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