NC Treasurer Cowell Announces 2016 Plans

North Carolina Treasurer Janet Cowell has dispelled speculation that she’ll be a Democratic challenger to Republican Richard Burr for his U.S. Senate seat.

On Tuesday, Cowell posted on her Facebook page that she has another political race in mind.

“I appreciate and am flattered by the recent questions regarding my political future. My commitment remains strong – and there’s so much more work to do to build a better, more prosperous state for all who call North Carolina home,” she wrote. “That is why I am preparing a campaign to run for re-election as treasurer.”

Cowell, a former Raleigh City Council member, was elected state treasurer in 2008.

A recent PPP poll showed that, if she had decided to run against Burr, she’d have started out with 35 points to his 46.

McCrory’s Approval Rating Falls To Lowest Point Yet

RALEIGH – N.C. Governor Pat McCrory’s approval rating has fallen to its lowest point yet, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling in Raleigh.

Tom Jensen, Director of PPP, says that 53 percent of voters in the state disapprove of the job he’s doing, compared to only 35 percent who approve.

“It’s really happened four or five months in a row now that Pat McCrory just keeps on hitting all-time lows in his approval numbers,” Jensen says.

Jensen says the numbers show that many voters appear to be upset that several of his former campaign staffers are now working in the state Department of Health and Human Services and are earning salaries of more than $80,000. Only eight percent of voters in the state support those salaries, compared to 73 percent who oppose them.

The poll also finds that McCrory is losing ground with Republicans and Independent voters.

“He had already gotten over the summer about as low as he could get with Democrats, but now he is starting to lose even more of the people who actually voted for him,” Jensen says.

In a hypothetical match-up, the numbers show that McCrory is trailing four Democrats, all of whom Jensen says do not carry significant name recognition. Those opponents are state Attorney General Roy Cooper, Janet Cowell, Charles Meeker, and Josh Stein.

“He has really lost his image as a moderate Republican,” Jensen says.  “Now, I think a lot of people who thought that he was maybe more centrist don’t like him anymore because they think that he is just a total conservative.”

Jensen says increasing the minimum wage is one way that might help McCrory get back his bipartisan credibility and influence his approval ratings positively. Sixty-one percent of voters in the state favor increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour, with only 30 percent opposed.

To see the full results of the poll, which surveyed 600 North Carolina voters, you click here.

NC Democrats – Following a Lead and Finding a Leader

How are the North Carolina Democratic Party and the National Republican Party alike?

That is easy. Both lost elections this fall and do not know what to do about it.

It is particularly humiliating for North Carolina Democrats. They have to face a legislature totally dominated by Republicans, who have gerrymandered so effectively that it is hard to see how Democrats could regain control in the foreseeable future.

Thus, they are scratching their heads when they hear and read about how the Republicans lost their way and the Democrats won a great victory in November. Or, when they hear that North Carolina demographic trends favor Democrats in the long term.

So, what should the North Carolina Democrats do now?

One party activist told me they should follow the example of national Republicans and “and get some new leadership at the state and district level willing to critically evaluate our mistakes.”

He read that the Republican National Committee has a plan to review the 2012 elections to determine what worked and what did not. Their Growth and Opportunity project will address issues like “campaign mechanics and ground game, messaging, fundraising, demographic partners and allies, third-party groups, campaign finance issues, presidential primaries, lessons learned from Democratic campaign tactics.”

Assuming North Carolina Democrats are willing to follow the lead of the national Republicans, what should they be doing? Before they can follow anybody’s lead, they have to find a leader or a leadership group.

For the first time in 20 years, the Democrats do not have a governor who could claim responsibility to recruit party leadership. Nor are there senior legislative leaders up to the task.

That leaves statewide elected political leaders such as Council of State members Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, Attorney General Roy Cooper, Commissioner of Insurance Wayne Goodwin, Treasurer Janet Cowell, Auditor Beth Wood, and Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson. None of them, of course, has the clout of a governor. But all have statewide contacts and supporters. Marshall and Cooper have high-profile positions and have earned widespread respect. Goodwin and Cowell have built good networks and are potential candidates for higher office.

Any of them who garnered enthusiastic support from the others would be a good candidate to take the lead in rebuilding the party.

The other major statewide elected official is U.S. Senator Kay Hagan. In recent years, North Carolina Democratic senators have not been active in state and local party matters. They have built their own organizations and fundraising efforts.

Hagan, too, has her own support group, and she is a successful fundraiser. Arguably, she should stay out of state party politics. But she has more to gain than any other statewide elected official from a strong active party. She is up for reelection in 2014 and her prospects would be improved by an enthusiastic, well-organized, and unified party.

Once Hagan or some other individual or small group takes responsibility, the first task will be to recruit and persuade the party organization to select a party chair and executive director who will bring unity and energy to the task. For an example, they could look back to the 1980s, which were also challenging times for North Carolina Democrats. People like current Congressman David Price, popular Raleigh lawyer Wade Smith, and current public relations executive Ken Eudy were recruited to party leadership positions where they helped strengthen the organization and prepared it for a string of successes.

For today’s North Carolina Democrats, time is wasting. The 2014 campaign begins in just a few days.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage. A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.
This week’s (December 28, 30) guest is Kevin Duffus author of “War Zone—World War II off the North Carolina Coast.” Bookwatch Classics (programs from earlier years) airs Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). Wednesday’s (January 2) past guest program features Lee Smith author of “The Last Girls.”
For a North Carolinian who is interested in World War II, here is a perfect suggestion: “War Zone—World War II off the North Carolina Coast.” Author Kevin Duffus reviews the first seven months of the war when German U-boats destroyed U.S. ships off the North Carolina coast at will. He also tells some of the human interest stories that accompanied military action in the North Carolina zone of that war. (Dec. 28, 30)