Saturday, July 2, 2011

Iconic conservative statesman Jesse Helms died on July 4, 2008. He made the Reagan Revolution possible. Here's the story.

March 22, 2011

By John Dodd
President, Jesse Helms Center
Wingate, NC

WINGATE -- Thirty-five years ago, on March 23, 1976, voters in North Carolina helped shape the course of history. Their decision to support the presidential hopes of former California Gov. Ronald Reagan in the Republican presidential primary kept Reagan in the race for the 1976 GOP nomination and opened the way for his 1980 election as the 40th president of the United States.

Why did North Carolina voters choose Reagan instead of his opponent Gerald Ford? Ford, after all, was the sitting president. Primaries had been held in six other states, and Ford won every one of them. How did Reagan win in North Carolina?

While the full answers to those questions offer rich lessons for campaign strategists, the single most important reason for Reagan's victory was obvious. In North Carolina, Reagan had the promise of U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms' support. That promise meant something.

We know that in 1980 Reagan was elected to the first of two successful terms as president. We know that today that there probably are not enough stadiums in our nation to hold all of the politicians who claim some sort of kinship to Reagan. We've seen the highlight reels. 

We assume that the popular figure we remember moved from victory to victory. The real-time circumstances in the winter of 1975 and the spring of 1976 were quite different. Just about all of the seats on the Reagan bandwagon were empty. That did not deter Helms when he made his decision to support Reagan in the fall of 1973.

In mid-October of that year, the two enjoyed lunch together at Reagan's Los Angeles home. Friends since they met years earlier, they had followed each other's political careers with interest. When Helms ran for Senate in 1972, his TV ads included an endorsement from Gov. Reagan. Now, as they talked privately, Helms offered his strong support if Reagan ran for president in 1976.

Coincidentally, that same day in Washington, D.C., Rep. Gerald Ford was selected as President Nixon's vice presidential nominee. Ten months later, upon Nixon's resignation, Ford became president.

As circumstances developed, no one would have blamed Helms for determining that as a first term senator, it would be sensible for him to support Ford, whom he personally liked. However, Helms had made a promise and he disagreed with the Ford administration on some matters, particularly in the areas of foreign policy and the ever-expanding federal budget.

In what would become a familiar pattern over his 30 years of public service, Helms refused to pick pragmatism over principle. Helms had made a promise to a man whom he believed could make America "the shining city on the hill" once again, and that promise meant more than including his name on a list of supporters.

Helms devoted his efforts to the Reagan campaign. For more than a year, he traveled across the country. In Florida he rallied supporters at a statewide Reagan Steering Committee meeting with a blistering speech detailing the differences between President Ford and Gov. Reagan. In a Wisconsin television spot, Helms candidly said, "Now, you may ask: Why is a senator from North Carolina presuming to talk with us -- the people of Wisconsin? It's a fair question, and my answer is this: We're all Americans; we share the same concerns about our country."

Between mid-summer 1975 and late summer 1976, Helms pursued every possible vote. In North Carolina, he was at Reagan's side at breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and rallies across the state. He maintained his own barnstorming schedule to speak on Reagan's behalf wherever he was invited. At every stop he took pains to state that his support of Reagan over Ford was about the conservative philosophy of governance that he and Reagan shared.

Ignoring the Washington, D.C., professionals who wanted to feature Reagan's resume, Helms focused on Reagan's conservative views and the difference those views would make in the way the United States made decisions on national defense, control of the Panama Canal, and relations with the USSR.

In North Carolina, with the considerable help of his political ally Tom Ellis, Helms proved that voters cared much more about these issues than the Reagan operatives realized. Following Helms' lead, the Reagan campaign won seven more primaries in May and three in June.

When the Republican National Convention opened in Kansas City, Mo. in mid-August, Reagan received more than 1,000 delegate votes. That wasn't enough to prevent Ford's nomination, but it was a powerful showing. Reagan delegates strongly influenced the GOP platform, adding conservative planks that would influence the direction of the Republican Party well into the 21st Century.

At the close of the convention, Ford graciously invited Reagan to speak. With that speech, Reagan solidified his place as a party leader and the probable GOP nominee in 1980. 

It was a victory for Helms as well. By following through on his principled decision to support Reagan, he helped restructure the Republican Party to better represent conservative views. And as he watched the stream of new supporters climb on the once-empty bandwagon, he was certain that Reagan could indeed become president of the United States.

John Dodd is president of the Jesse Helms Center in Wingate.

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Jesse Helms, "Senator No." unerringly said "Yes" to God, country and family. The iconic conservative statesman passed away July 4, 2008.


Verne Strickland Blogmaster / July 2, 2011

U.S. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina passed away on July 4, 2008. He had many detractors, who did not know him, and even more admirers who did. Jesse did not care about the political and philosophical barometers. He said, "I never won a popularity poll, and I never lost an election."

There was a "yes" side to the statesman known as "Senator No." And it was emblazoned on his voting record and unflinching conservativer pronouncements. If he was against atheism, depravity and moral decline, he was for his Savior Jesus Christ and the Christian life. If he was against elitist globalism, he was for American exceptionalism, and peace through strength. If he was against the welfare state, he was for free enterprise, personal accountality, and individual initiative.

My family and I, living at the time in Raleigh where we raised our three wonderful sons, were privileged to know Jesse personally. We revered, respected and loved him. He set the bar high for us, and for all who love the United States of America -- its ideals and its unique role as a free country founded on Judeo-Christian principles.

He died on July 4, 2008. I know that God guides and directs the lives of us all. So I am certain that the Lord paid tribute to his faithful servant Jesse by bringing him home on the date his beloved America won its freedom. God bless you, Jesse, and farewell. It was a privilege to know you.

Jesse Helms (1921-2008)

Known as "Senator No," Jesse Helms believed in free enterprise and limited government. Image courtesy of the Jesse Helms Center Archives, Wingate, NC.
Known as "Senator No," Jesse Helms believed in free enterprise and limited government. Image courtesy of the Jesse Helms Center Archives, Wingate, NC.

By Ronnie W. Faulkner, Campbell University

A reporter, television-radio executive, and U.S. Senator, Jesse Helms was born October 18, 1921, in Monroe, N.C., to Jesse Alexander and Ethel Mae Helms.  The Almanac of American Politics labeled the conservative Helms a “Jeremiah” for believing in an imminent doom and warning against the encroaching dangers of big government, communism, and abortion—to name three examples.

As a young man, Helms’s varied careers and experiences introduced him to the world of politics.  He attended Wingate College and Wake Forest College, each for a year; classmates at each school remembered him as a non-political, “clean-living Baptist.”  Helms quit college, however, to pursue journalism, first as a sports proofreader at the Raleigh News and Observer, and shortly afterward, as an editor of Raleigh Times.  Helms married Dorothy Jane Coble in 1942 (they later had three children), and his father-in-law, Jacob L. Coble, spent hours discussing politics whenever the two would meet.  Helms served in the Navy from 1942 to 1945.

After World War II, Helms’s journalistic career soared.  Upon returning to the States, he again worked briefly at Raleigh Times before taking a job at a radio station in Roanoke Rapids.  He returned to Raleigh in 1946, however, to work for WRAL radio, owned by A. J. Fletcher (1887-1979), a fellow conservative, whom Helms loved and respected.  As news director and executive vice-president of WRAL, Helms was the voice of the “Viewpoint Editorial,” a brief daily two-minute program in which he consistently attacked what he called left-leaning professors, liberal politicians, “Red China,” “socialized medicine,” and, among other things, foreign aid and government civil rights policies.  Helms also promoted “free enterprise.”

In 1972, Helms switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party.  That year Helms became the first popularly-elected Republican U.S. Senator from N.C. since Jeter C. Pritchard’s term ending in 1903.  Helms’s prior public service consisted only of a term on the Raleigh City Council.  However, the Monroe County native held his Senate seat for thirty years--the longest serving statewide Republican politician in Tar Heel history.

As Senator, Helms practiced a conservatism that either outraged or pleased.  He was labeled “Senator No” by the News and Observer for his tendency to vote against government programs.  But Helms practiced what he preached.  He returned millions that had been allocated for running his office.  It was his mastery of parliamentary procedure that infuriated his colleagues (even Republicans); he routinely forced votes on delicate social issues such as abortion and school busing.

Helms leadership style was more than controversial; it was also effective.  Helms’s support of Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) for president in the 1976 North Carolina Republican primary has been credited by pundits, including Fred Barnes, as the reason for the California governor’s comeback victory in 1980. 

When the Republicans controlled the Senate in 1981 to 1987, Helms chaired the Committee on Agriculture.  When Republicans controlled the Senate during 1995-2001, he chaired the Committee on Foreign Relations.  In this position, he was the most interested and exercised his greatest influence, scaling back the U.S. debt to the United Nations, reforming the State Department, defeating ambassadorial nominations of Liberals, and helping strengthen the embargo against Cuba.

As a former reporter, Helms understood the value of mass media. He relied on direct mail to collect small contributions to build multimillion-dollar war chests for his campaigns, by-passing big contributors interested only in buying influence.   Helms’s toughest campaign was against former Governor James Hunt (1937- ) in 1984.  At over $28 million in expenditures, the 1984 campaign was the most expensive U.S. Senate campaign in history until that time.

Centrist politics, which had made Hunt a formidable campaigner, were what defeated him when he challenged Helms.  From the beginning, Helms attacked Hunt as being wishy-washy, and voters once again returned Helms to office.  In 1990 and 1996, Helms ran against Harvey Gantt (1943- ), an African American and former mayor of Charlotte.  The Helms campaign used Gantt’s affirmative action positions to defeat him.  The 1990 campaign, for instance, featured an ad depicting an unemployed white worker crumbling a rejection notice after a minority landed the job.

In his last years in the Senate, Helms’s declining health forced him to use a wheel chair. Announcing he would not seek reelection in 2002, Helms publicly supported Elizabeth Dole (1936- ), who won and became the first woman U.S. Senator from N.C.

Even when retired and in declining health, Helms still held influence and remained active. Political candidates sought his endorsement.  Helms also wrote an autobiography and promoted the Helms Center in Wingate, which houses his correspondence and promotes the principles to which Helms dedicated his life: free enterprise and limited government.  "Senator No" passed away on July 4, 2008.

Michael Barone and Grant Ujifusa, The Almanac of American Politics 1994 (Washington, D.C., 1994); Ronnie W. Faulkner, Jesse Helms and the Legacy of Nathaniel Macon (Wingate, 1998); Ernest B. Furgurson, Hard Right: The Rise of Jesse Helms (New York, 1986); “Jesse Helms,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (accessed April 3, 2006); Jesse Helms, Empire of Liberty (Washington, 2001),  Here’s Where I Stand: A Memoir (New York, 2005), The Ramparts We Watched (Chicago, 1984), When Free Men Shall Stand (College Park, MD, 1994); William D. Snider, Helms and Hunt: The North Carolina Senate Race, 1984 (Chapel Hill, 1985).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Robeson County is epicenter of changes to 2012 NC Congressional map!

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Re-Districting Maps!

Re-Districting maps were made public today. Robeson has been split between two Congressional Districts. Congressman McIntyre is already complaining. In reality he should be happy. Had the County not been split, he would have been forced into the 8th Congressional District with Democratic Congressman Larry Kissell.

Robeson should get to know the name of Kissell as he, Schuler and Miller are the three Democrats most affected by re-districting. Their Districts are now decidedly more Republican. Kissell will run against a GOP contender to represent western and northern Robeson. Kissell is in an unlikely position to hold the seat and McIntyre would have been in a worse position being unknown in that District. The west end of the 8th is decidedly Republican. Kissell will not be able to hold on to the seat.

The new 7th District cuts up I-95 then carves out the middle of Lumberton. McIntyre lost about 3% right off the top. McCain won the 7th with 52% in 2008 but would have garnered 55% in this new District. Bush took 56% of the old 7th, he would have taken 59% in this new District. Keep in mind, McIntyre won his last election with about 53% so the loss puts him on the most level playing field of any Democrat.

The new 7th Congressional District consists of 42% Democrat, 32% Republican and 26% Unaffiliated. So of the four Democratic Congressmen affected – three are expected to lose and McIntyre’s is a toss-up at best. McIntyre’s challenger is Ilario Pantano, a former US Marine. The re-districting plan picks up Onslow county and the Marine Base there.

Clearly, the lawsuits will now begin regarding re-districting as they did when Democrats gerrymandered the State a decade ago. The Democrats horrendous map has stood for the past decade. There is little reason the Republican map will not stand for the next.

At best, Republicans expected a county represented by a Democrat & a Republican as a result of re-districting as the 8th was expected to be a Majority-Minority District - it's not. As it turns out, Robeson actually has the chance of being represented by two Republicans.

Operations level Republicans are still studying the maps. But so far, things will be interesting as Republicans have a lot of work to do.
8th Congressional District West & North Robeson - 7th Congressional District South East Robeson = Dividing Lumberton.

As North Carolina redistricts, Gov. Perdue must stand by as a virtual 'spent hen'.

A Republican-backed proposed congressional redistricting map for North Carolina (as of July 1, 2011).

Verne Strickland Blogmaster 070111

North Carolina is unique among the states in that under the state Constitution the governor cannot veto a redistricting plan passed by the legislature. This means that Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue cannot veto this congressional redistricting plan produced by the Republican-controlled Senate and House redistricting committees and likely to be passed by both houses.

Currently the North Carolina House delegation is made up of 6 Republicans and 7 Democrats. The redistricting plan creates 3 overwhelmingly Democratic districts (the 1st, 4th and 12th) and 10 districts in which Republican Senator Richard Burr received at least 59% of the vote in November 2010 and in which John McCain received at least 55% of the vote in November 2008.

This puts in jeopardy the seats of the 7th district’s Mike McIntyre, the 8th district’s Larry Kissell, the 11th district’s Heath Shuler (who reportedly is weighing an offer to become athletic director at the University of Tennessee, where he was a football star) and the 13th district’s Brad Miller (who was on the redistricting committee 10 years ago). Republicans have the potential, but not the assurance, of gaining 4 seats.

In the 7th district—previous version 52% McCain, new version 55% McCain—Democrat Mike McIntyre beat Republican challenger Ilario Pantano 54%-46% in 2010. The redistricting removes most of Robeson County (with its large population of blacks and Lumbee Indians) and the Democratic area around Fayetteville and adds Onslow County, home of the Marine Corps’s Camp Lejeune. This could help Marine veteran Pantano.

The 8th district goes from 52% Obama to 55% McCain; Democrat Larry Kissell won 53%-43% last time after a controversial Republican primary. The district no longer contains black precincts in Charlotte.
The 11th district loses the increasingly liberal city of Asheville and adds four heavily Republican counties. In the process a 52% McCain district becomes a 58% McCain district, with the second highest McCain percentage of any of North Carolina’s 13 districts.

It’s rumored that incumbent Heath Shuler is weighing an offer to become athletic director at the University of Tennessee, where he was a star quarterback. That looks like it would give Shuler more power and tenure; in the House he’s on the outs with the Democratic leadership because of his open opposition to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The 13th district has seen the sharpest transformation, from a 59%-40% Obama district to a 56%-43% McCain district. The Supreme Court recently ruled that states are not required to create near-minority-majority districts (i.e., those  with large numbers but not a majority of blacks or Hispanics) to comply with the Voting Rights Act. This was one such district; the Republican redistricters clearly placed many of the old 13th’s blacks in the heavily Democratic 4th district.

New NC Redistricting maps show major boost in the works for GOP!

New N.C. Congressional map boosts GOP.

A Republican-backed proposed congressional redistricting map for North Carolina (as of July 1, 2011).

Statement from Pantano for Congress on Proposed New Congressional Districts
July 1, 2011

Andy Yates
(704) 467-0795

Wilmington, NC: For most the lines that define a congressional district are a bunch of insider politics that don’t put food on a table or pay a mortgage, but we have some good news about these new maps. They will finally give the citizens of southeastern North Carolina the conservative voice they deserve.  While still subject to change, these maps demonstrate a logical conclusion that the region is well served by concentrating its coastal strength from Morehead City to Calabash.  Matching communities with similar economic and conservative interests serves all of the citizens of South Eastern North Carolina that share the same bedrock principles and values that have made our country great and that Ilario will stand for in Congress.

We are confident that the citizens of the new 7th District will respond very positively to Ilario’s conservative message of JOB CREATION by reducing taxes and cutting regulations  to spur private sector economic growth while at the same time putting an end to the runaway spending and crippling debt burden that threatens the prosperity of our families and future Generations. Ilario’s pro-growth message of government reform and private sector innovation will stand in sharp contrast to his opponent’s record of supporting the Obama stimulus, failing to support any budget or debt reduction plan, and his continued support for wasteful spending of money we don’t have paid for by debt from governments we don’t trust.

This weekend Congressman McIntyre is returning from a taxpayer paid luxury junket across Europe from Rome to Moscow to Lisbon where the official itinerary noted he and his wife were celebrating their wedding anniversary with all the perks of a Washington insider.  Meanwhile, back here in southeastern North Carolina, where unemployment is in the double digits, Pantano will be spending time in 7 counties celebrating America's Independence with supporters and friends from all across the new district. A 4th of July stop will include Onslow County where Ilario served proudly as a Marine in two of our nation’s wars, the first Gulf War (1991) and Iraq in (2004).

Pantano, whose father legally immigrated to the United States from Italy and became a US citizen in 1976, is willing to give the congressman an Italian Lesson for free when he returns from spending our money overseas. Pantano will also be happy to share with the Congressman what he heard from his fellow citizens of Southeastern North Carolina about their concerns over unemployment, the debt, and out of control federal spending which has ballooned over his opponents fourteen years in Washington living highon the hog.



  • Want to speak out on the plan?
  • On the Web: View the maps, details
  • N.C. lawmakers will hold a statewide public hearing on the proposed congressional districts on Thursday from 3 p.m. to 9.
    The hearing will be held through a video conference at sites from Collowhee to Wilmington. Speakers are limited to five minutes. For information on the hearing, call Erika Churchill or Kelly Quick at 919-733-2578.
    Locations include:
    The N.C. Museum of History, 1st floor auditorium, 5 East Edenton St., Raleigh.
    Fayetteville Technical Community College, Cumberland Hall Room 3082201 Hull Road, Fayetteville.
    UNC Charlotte, J. Murrey Atkins Library, Room 143, 9201 University City Blvd. Charlotte.
    Appalachian State University, Anne Belk Hall, Interactive Video Services Classroom 023, 224 Joyce Lawrence Lane, Boone.

    By Jim Morrill
North Carolina's new Republican-drawn congressional districts would give the GOP at least two and possibly four more seats, according to one analyst.

The map, released this afternoon, redraws the state's 13 congressional districts.

It maintains the state's two majority-minority districts and extends the 1st District, represented by Democrat G.K. Butterfield, into Wake County.

Democrat David Price's 4th District would snake all the way into Cumberland County.

It adds Republican voters to districts currently represented by Democratic Reps. Larry Kissell of Montgomery County, Heath Shuler of Haywood County, Brad Miller of Wake County and Mike McIntyre of Robeson County.

"Say Goodbye to Democrats Miller, Shuler and Kissell; McIntyre Fighting Chance," analyst John Davis headlined a news release on the proposed districts.

North Carolina currently has seven Democrats and six Republicans in its delegation. Republicans gained one seat last fall -- Renee Ellmers in the 2nd District -- to help the GOP take back control of the U.S. House.
Today's map is the first of three lawmakers will present. Proposed new legislative districts will be released July 11.

Republican Sen. Bob Rucho of Matthews, the Senate redistricting chair, downplayed the partisan advantage the map might give his party.

"What I think more than anything is they'll be districts that are competitive," he said. "Fair and legal districts that are competitive."

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Presidential horserace shows Bachmann running neck and neck with Romney!


IA Caucus: Feb. 6, 2012
NH Primary: Feb. 14, 2012 (expected)
SC Primary: TBD
NV Caucus: Feb. 18, 2012
The race shakes up this week. It’s the first major shake up of the Presidential horserace in weeks. Michele Bachmann surges into second place — running neck and neck with Mitt Romney. Falling further behind are everyone else.

Tim Pawlenty has stumbled. Gary Johnson is off the track. Newt Gingrich looks to be heading off the track. And then there’s Herman Cain. Cain keeps surprising, but for how much longer?
It looks like Rick Perry is getting into the starting gate and we’ve got to start taking him seriously. Sarah Palin? Well, she’s still not running, but this trip to Iowa raises questions — not just of whether she is running, but who is she helping.
While all eyes are on the starting gate to see who else might get in, Mitt Romney just signaled he’s nervous.
We’ll get into all of it this week in the Horserace. As always, the names are written alphabetically and the take is mine and mine alone as an objective, but conservative, observer of the Presidential horse race.

Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann’s polling right now is dazzling and I am now prepared to designate her officially as the anti-Romney candidate. She’s been fighting for legitimacy for months. Her CNN New Hampshire debate performance helped her solidify that legitimacy. Her polling now makes her a top contender. It is a meteoric rise.
The problem for Bachmann is that a meteoric rise typically precedes a meteoric fall in politics. When candidates catch a spark as quickly as Michele Bachmann has, the other campaigns get nervous and a pile on typically ensues. But those campaigns taking off so quickly typically have not made all the staffing decisions they need and can be caught off guard by the pile on, find themselves unable to rapidly respond to the pile on, and flame out.
We’re already seeing the attacks come in both through typical media vetting, liberal bias in the media, and no doubt a few selective leaks from her opponents both in Congress and other campaigns.
Right now though, Bachmann is giving Romney a run for his money in the polls. That doesn’t have Romney worried yet because I’m willing to bet he doesn’t see Bachmann as a long term rival, but as someone who can prevent a greater rival from catching up. HIstory is against Michele Bachmann being the nominee, but she’s having a lot of fun defying history right now.

Herman Cain

The more Michele Bachmann seems to be gaining steam, the more Herman Cain seems to be petering out. He has lost two staffers in the past few days. I am hearing rumblings that his campaign finances are not great. Contrary to some misconceptions, Cain cannot self fund. I love Herman Cain. Al Gore may have invented the internet, but Cain invented pizza, so God bless him. But this isn’t looking good.
Running an insurgent campaign only gets you so far. Insurgent campaigns are heavily grassroots based. But with Michele Bachmann now owning the grassroots, it is hard for Cain to stand out. Bachmann’s rise is his fall.
There is a silver lining for Herman Cain. He continues to have growing name id, high favorable intensity, and is holding his own in most polling. The attacks are going to come fast and furious on Michele Bachmann. Cain could potentially position himself to pick up the pieces. Right now, that is the only way I see him gaining traction.

Newt Gingrich

I no longer see the rationale to Newt Gingrich’s campaign. I have talked to a half dozen people over the past few weeks and all recount the same story. Newt told them he was running and largely saw the field as his to own and master. When you come into a race viewing yourself not as the dark horse, but as the white knight, your campaign strategy immediately goes flat when the voters don’t embrace you as the savior and hero.
The financial loss to the Gingrich media campaign has got to be staggering. The loss to his reputation leaves a lot of us breathless. Were I Gingrich, I wouldn’t limp through continuing to bleed. I’d be up front that the campaign wasn’t going as well as expected, the party seems still unsure of its place in the world, and Newt should declare that he is going to step out and provide the intellectual ammunition for the others — then position himself as the all anti-Obama all the time intellect that he is and rebuild his reputation as the proverbial Moses of the party who doesn’t get into the promised land, but without whom the promised land would have been unattainable.

Jon Huntsman

Up front I admit I am biased against Jon Huntsman for a number of reasons. Though I have to admit his tax record is better than Romney’s. The Huntsman campaign is intent on running as the happy moderate and portraying everyone else and their voters as angry.
The problem with that is Huntsman will then need to do something to get into the good graces of those voters come the general election. Certainly many will come out of loathing of Obama. But when Huntsman is portraying himself and the media is portraying Huntsman as the Republican version of Obama, that’s not exactly helping.
If Utah moves up its primary, Huntsman and Romney will fight it out and the winner there will have some momentum. Right now, Huntsman seems focused on New Hampshire, but even more so states after New Hampshire. If Rick Perry gets in, that axes South Carolina from his strategy. He’ll have what amounts to a Giuliani strategy, which I don’t see getting him far.
And a dog fight in Michigan, Nevada, and New Hampshire with Romney helps Bachmann, Pawlenty, and Perry if he gets in.

Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson will be removed next week from the list. His campaign is dead in the water.

Sarah Palin

I do not, at this point, see signs that Sarah Palin is getting into the race for President. Considering, however, that she was in New Hampshire when MItt Romney announced and Iowa when Michele Bachmann announced, I definitely think Palin is trying to keep the window open to get in if her polling changes.
Right now, if I had to guess, I think she is not running for anything except continued relevance. Palin can legitimately shape up to be the king maker. I continue to dwell on her comments during the bus tour that she wants Rick Perry to run.

Ron Paul

Ron Paul will not be the nominee, but his ability to excite a base of youthful voters is something that continues to impress a lot of people who should know better.

Tim Pawlenty

Pawlenty is feeling the political version of the great stagnation the country is feeling economically. He is going nowhere. The slow and steady pace has been what was keeping Pawlenty alive. To his credit, he has given more substantive economic and foreign policy speeches than any of the other candidates including, surprisingly, Mitt Romney.
But Pawlenty is not gaining traction. He’s seen as boring to some or too nice to others. Neither of those are actually terrible things in a general election, but I don’t think they are translating in a Republican Primary.
I still Pawlenty has the inside edge, but now I must say that this is only if he deals with Bachmann carefully. He’s going to need her support in Iowa. Like Cain, Pawlenty can back on Bachmann going back down in the polls and be there to pick up the pieces. He may also have to get traction by going more aggressively for Romney. If, however, Rick Perry gets in, it is going to make it extremely difficult for Pawlenty.

Rick Perry

The Perry buzz continues to grow. In addition to his trip to South Carolina for the RedState Gathering, I hear Perry’s associates are reaching out to people in Iowa. Every indication is that Perry is serious about getting in, but I suspect he’s first seeing if he can secure funding. If Perry gets in, I think we won’t see Sarah Palin get in and I think we’ll see a few other candidates depart sooner than expected.

Mitt Romney

Romney’s campaign may be playing it safe, but there are signs of concern. A Wall Street Journal article from yesterday has quotes from a Utah elections official who claimed Romney was trying to pressure Utah to move up its primary date even though it would cost Utah citizens $2.5 million to do so.
That Romney is trying to move up the Utah primary to get himself a good win in a favorable state early suggests concern. Likewise, it is Jon Huntsman’s home state too, but surprisingly a lot of polls have Romney beating Huntsman. Pushing up the primary could give Romney a chance to finish off Huntsman early instead of battling Huntsman’s millions in a protracted race.
Likewise, with Bachmann’s surge, we may see a situation where Bachmann wins Iowa, putting her in a position to also win South Carolina. Starting with the GOP Primary in 1980, no Republican has won the nomination without winning South Carolina.

Rick Santorum

I see no rationale for Rick Santorum to remain in the race and I expect him to drop out sooner rather than later. His fundraising is not going to be nearly as impressive as Bachmann’s and he increasingly is without buzz on the campaign trail or an ability to have an impact.

The Pantano Path to Victory in 2012 has your name on it!

 June 30, 2011


The Pantano Path to Victory in 2012 has your name on it.

Heading into July 4th weekend, do you still believe your country is worth fighting for?
Do you still believe that America’s best days can be ahead of her?

For the Pantano family and friends, the answer will always be YES.  We are committed to the battle for America’s future. We are committed to victory in 2012 for our region, our state and our country. We are committed for the sake of our children.
But we need your help.

After this brief electoral OVERVIEW you will find details on the 3 concrete steps that it will take to win our country back. You’ve never seen so much political detail and inside information made public like this before.   Some may question if we have gone too far in making all of this public, but we have chosen to share this because we are a grassroots organization driven entirely by its supporters.  You need to know the plan since you have a role in executing the plan.  We are not taking any of that for granted we wanted you to know where we stand.

You are part of the team and we can’t achieve VICTORY in 2012 without you.
Here is our game plan for a conservative victory in 2012:

1)    Begin ORGANIZING today.
2)    Begin COMMUNICATING today.
3)    Begin FUNDRAISING today.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”  -Ronald Reagan

You may ask, “Why Now? The election is more than a year away?”

Barack Obama has committed to spending over $1 Billion dollars in his 2012 re-election effort and NC Governor Purdue has already become a regular on the Chicago circuit for union fundraising. Their ground teams have been spotted near my home in Wilmington, NC.

As the economy is buffeted by double-digit unemployment it is clear that the only job the liberals will protect is their own.

North Carolina is THE BATTLEGROUND and will be the key to the Democrat’s southern strategy. Our 15 electoral votes are critical for Obama’s re-election, and he knows that he MUST win here, again.

Where’s the proof?

1) Democratic National Convention will be held in Charlotte, NC in 2012. 
This choice of the Charlotte, NC location is a controversial one for the Democrats and is causing dissension among the Union groups that fund liberals. Democrat strategists are willing to risk the upset of their base because NC is so critical for Obama.

2) Obama’s first re-election video prominently features a North Carolinian.
The message is clear to locals and to the national audience as well, North Carolina is key to the Obama strategy for victory. North Carolina is the only Southern State that Team Obama appears to be targeting.  The other two Southern States that elected Obama in 2008 (FL and VA) will likely be written off by the Democrats.

3) In 2008, Obama won North Carolina by the slimmest margin of all states. 
Obama’s 14,000 vote statewide margin, out of 4.2 million cast, represented less than a third of one percent of the vote.  Also noteworthy is that Obama out fund raised McCain in North Carolina almost 3-to-1 ($9mil to $3mil).

4) In 2010, three vulnerable Democrat Congressmen managed to keep their seats.  
100 years of gerrymandering districts protected three congressional Blue Dog incumbents in 2010 (Shuler, Kissel and McIntyre).  These three give the Democrats a foothold so that they can try to go on offense in NC.

 But the 2012 Presidential election is the PRIORITY for conservatives, Right? 

Yes, and getting a conservative Governor elected is critical too, but none of that can happen without an effective ground game managed by strong GOP candidates at the federal and state level. 

In our case, with a congressional district that spans 10 counties with almost a dozen NC State House and NC Senate seats, it is up to us to build an effective volunteer operation to support the bigger statewide and national level fight. 

Remember: Pelosi and her team just need to pick up 25 seats to re-take the majority.
We are LATE.

Obama’s volunteers have already started making calls and organizing their “Get Out The Vote” (GOTV) efforts here in South Eastern North Carolina. We have seen it with our own eyes.  They are working phone lists and will be walking neighborhoods soon.  

GOP Presidential Nominee WILL NOT Organize in NC until next Summer.

NC’s primary is relatively late in the season, May 2012, and as a result, the Presidential GOP nomination will likely be decided before any of the contenders decide to spend one dollar here.  That makes sense for the presidential candidates with their limited budgets, because money and ground teams will be required elsewhere.

Unfortunately it also means that presidential GOP team will have no presence in NC until summer of 2012. More than one year after Team Obama!

Team Pantano can bridge the gap NOW and make the difference in Southeastern North Carolina, and across the country.

With your help, we are the local arm of a national movement of federal issues.

The Pantano campaign is where the rubber meets the road. 

The Obama Democrats have their unions and thousands of paid staffers and door knockers.  They will out spend us, but we will not let them out organize us or out work us.

That is why we are starting today.  Here’s how you can help:


It all starts with YOU. Please take the time now and consider making whatever contribution you can make, today by clicking here.  Your support is the building block upon which we build a network of friends and supporters.  Our Filing deadline is Jun 30, and anything that we can get in before then is important.  But don’t worry, this is a marathon, not a sprint and we know you will be there for us later too.

In 2010, you helped our team accomplish the “impossible.” In a district that had not seen a Republican since reconstruction, we raised more money than any GOP challenger in NC history. We were still outspent by our Democrat opponent and NANCY PELOSI, but we brought the fight that put Southeastern NC on the political map. 

This time the stakes are even higher. And it’s going to take every dollar to ensure victory. That is why we re-launched in February of 2011 and will work hard every day until November of 2012. 

DIRECT MAIL FUNDRAISING:  We are in constant contact with our 9,000 contributors and we continue to let them know how much we appreciate them.  Not all of them are ready to get back into the fight right away, but while our continuous outreach is costly in the short term, it is a solid investment in the future.  We are all in financial distress, so give what you can, when you can.  God will do the rest.

ONLINE FUNDRAISING:  By leveraging new media, our online efforts have raised more online than many campaigns raise in total. Moving into 2012 we plan on doubling our progress so we can be effective against Obama’s billion bucks and union thugs.

If you believe enough to help us, you can amplify that support by telling just a handful of your friends.  Don’t just forward an email, pick up the phone. Their support, wherever they might live, will go a long way in ensuring we retake our country and restore a path to prosperity.

EVENTS: Want to host a meet and greet? Our “Patriots for Pantano” Gatherings program is now in full swing and you can easily organize lunch time or evening gatherings with our turn-key kit of invitations, name tags, etc. If you believe enough to help us, you can amplify that support by telling just a handful of your friends. Their support, wherever they might live, will go a long way in ensuring we retake our country and restore a path to prosperity. For more information contact Debbie at:


We have been working steadily since 2010 to build strong teams in every county and now it is time to take the next step:  We are opening a Volunteer office in New Hanover County so that we can better support our hundreds of friends across the 6,500 square miles of the Cape Fear Region. We need you to help sign up your like-minded friends, neighbors and family members

 GROWING OUR VOLUNTEER BASE: We will be growing our volunteer army across the district organizing every county and precinct down to each street.

Our first volunteer meeting at our new HQ will be Wednesday, July 13 at 6:45pm.

· Agenda will focus on precinct operations and volunteer recruitment.
· We will schedule outreach training and establish Q3 and Q4 benchmarks.
· We will also discuss fundraising and office hours.
· Location: 8207 Market Street, Unit H  Wilmington, NC 28411
· (The office is next to the US Post Office at Porters Neck.)

OPENING OUR VOLUNTEER HEADQUARTERS: We are celebrating our GRAND OPENING and Ilario’s 40th Birthday party this August. Special guests and fun activities for children will be announced soon.
ORGANIZING ONLINE: We are setting specific monthly targets for growing our sizable social media networks for Q3 2011:
· Grow from 5,000 to 5,500 “likes” on FACEBOOK
· Grow from 7,200 to 7,500 “followers” on TWITTER.
· Grow Upload views from 65,000 to 70,000 on YOUTUBE


TOWN HALLS: We are launching a series of district-wide TOWN HALL type events that will include guest lecturers and authors commenting on their areas of expertise and signing books.

· Topics will include Job Creation, Healthcare, Government Spending, Political theory, Intelligence and National Defense. 

LOCAL EVENTS: We are ramping up operations across the district with the goal of attending as many events and activities as Ilario Pantano’s work and family schedule can accommodate. We want to hear from you!  If you have an event or a gathering that you would like Ilario to attend please

From book clubs to cook outs, Ilario wants to be there, so put together some friends and reach out to us.

Want to know how committed Ilario is to working for you? Just this July 4th Weekend alone, Ilario will be at 7 events in 7 counties in just two days.  And he’ll still make time to celebrate his son’s Birthday! Please don’t forget to pray for Jill and the boys while Ilario is on the road.

BOOK RELEASE: Ilario’s book “Warlord” will be re-released this fall.  Look for him on national and local media everywhere.  To schedule book signings in your community please email:

PUBLICATIONS: Ilario has been a prolific writer and commentator and much of his work is chronicled on our website.  From Politico, to American Legion magazine, to, Ilario has been leading the dialog of conservative ideas.

Most recently Ilario has editorials published in the prestigious National Review Online:

VIDEO: You’ve seen Ilario’s appearances on The Daily Show and Fox News, but have you seen his latest interview with Mallory Factor at  Share it with Friends.

Also, we have archived over 100 hours of unscripted video of Ilario, his family and his supporters discussing the entire gamut of issues from Job Creation and Commercial Fishing, to Nuclear Energy.  You can watch Ilario advocate for the 2nd Amendment during a pistol match or watch him handily win debates against a seven-term member of congress. It is all available at:


We are putting your dollars to work winning the future today.  We don’t have to tell you that it is expensive to drive from one side of this district to the other.  T-shirts cost money. So do stickers.  Mailings to 300,000 voters cost thousands of dollars in postage alone. And that hasn’t touched the tip of the iceberg: TV and Radio.

We are blessed with wonderful volunteers that give generously of their time, but they need the resources to succeed.  They can’t address envelopes if they don’t have any.

We are working to be as frugal as possible while still preserving the energy and name recognition of the $ 4 million expenditure last election cycle. By investing early in the technical infrastructure, we are ensuring victory for conservatives up and down the ticket, from the White House to the County Commission. Our ability to reach voters requires good technical resources and that cost money right now.

“Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.”  - President Ronald Reagan

Thank you again for all of the support. I know this overview was more than you needed, but I wanted you to see the level of effort that is unfolding now, in July 2011.  We are focused, we are determined and we will not forget the sacrifices of our forefathers on this celebration of our Independence Day.

We remain Semper Fidelis,

The Pantano Family

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

This Independence Day, lay out the facts about Obama's fakery and Perdue's failures.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster /  June 29, 2011




OBAMANOMICS:  Hope isn’t Hiring in America

We Own It”: Two of the President’s closest allies, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Dick Durbin, have admitted that this President owns the economy in the minds of voters.

National Debt up 35% under Obama
Current National Debt is $14.3 Trillion
$3.7 Trillion added to the national debt since Obama took office
43 cents borrowed on every dollar the federal government
$26.3 Trillion is the expected national debt in 2021 under Obama’s budget

National unemployment at 9.1%
Unemployment up 25% under Obama
2.5 million jobs lost under Obama

Failure #1)    Obama’s Latest “Budget” Is So Vague That It’s Meaningless
THEN: In 2008, Obama Promised To Go Through The Budget “Line By Line, Eliminating Programs That No Longer Work And Making The Ones We Do Need Work Better.”

NOW:   CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf Says Obama’s Latest Budget Is Too Vague To Be Scored.

 REP. PAUL RYAN: “The president gave a speech on April 13th, where he outlined a new budget framework that claims $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 12 years, have you estimated the budget impact of this framework?
ELMENDORF: No, Mr. Chairman. We don’t estimate speeches. We need much more specificity than was provided in that speech for us to do our analysis.”

Failure #2)    Obama Promised To Get Serious About Reducing The Debt, He Hasn’t

THEN: In 2009, President Barack Obama Promised To Get Serious About Reducing Debt And Deficits.

NOW:   Since President Obama Took Office, The National Debt Has Increased By $3.7 Trillion, the Total Debt Of The US Government Is $14.3 Trillion Dollars and Obama’s FY2012 Budget Adds $13 Trillion In New Debt Through 2021.

Failure #3)    Obama Promised To Cut The Deficit In Half, He Didn’t

THEN: In February 2009, Obama Said That He Would “Cut The Deficit In Half By The End Of [His] First Term In Office.”

NOW:   Obama Has Racked Up Record, Trillion Dollar Deficits. The Federal Budget Deficit for FY2009 Was $1.42 Trillion, Then The Highest In U.S. History until this year when the deficit is slated to hit $1.65 Trillion.


Governor Perdue refused to sign a bi-partisan budget that did not include a $1 Billion tax increase.
The state of North Carolina faced a $2.5 Billion budget deficit because Governor Perdue spends too much, not because North Carolinians are taxed too little.


Unemployment in the state of North Carolina remains at 9.7% – for the third straight month.




Governor Perdue’s Vetoes common-sense legislation to appease her liberal base ahead of next year’s election.



VETO #3 FOR HER LIBERAL BASE (political payback for trial lawyers)



The Republican-led legislature led a “session for job creation” and was also able to override Governor Perdue’s budget veto and pass a fact-based budget to right-size our state government.  Governor Perdue and her liberal allies would not settle for a budget without a $1 billion tax hike and they threw everything they had at Speaker Tillis and President Pro Tem Berger.

Budget fulfills promises made during the 2010 campaign
  • Balances the budget, closing a $2.5 billion shortfall
  • Allows the temporary sales and income tax increases to expire, putting $1.3 billion back into the hands of North Carolina taxpayers
  • Provides tax relief for small businesses allowing them to expand and put people back to work
  • Protects education – fully funding all classroom teachers and teacher’s assistants
  • Brings state spending in line with revenues and places North Carolina back on the path to fiscal responsibility

In last week’s News and Observer, Lew Ebert, President and CEO of the North Carolina Chamber, highlights the pro-business and pro-job creation legislation put forward by the Republican-led General Assembly this session.

“Leaders in Raleigh sent a strong message this session:  

North Carolina is open and ready for business. Legislation passed this year demonstrates that the best state for business can get even better. In the midst of vast economic challenges…listened to our state’s job creators and acted decisively to spur further job creation.  As a result, companies that already employ millions of North Carolinians can plan with more certainty for what it will cost to relocate or create more jobs in the Tar Heel State.”

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North Carolina Republican Party Headquarters
1506 Hillsborough Street • Raleigh, NC 27605 • Tel: 919-828-6423 • Fax: 919-899-3815
www.ncgop.orgLog In

Mike McMuffin's excellent Italian adventure on your dime. Gratsi, U.S. taxpayers!

June 29, 2011
Dear Pantano Supporter,

In case you missed it last Friday the Huffington Post called out Congressman Mike McIntyre for being one of 6 members of Congress taking a "Rome junket funded by tax payers" while Congress is on recess for the next two weeks.  

The article noted that McIntyre's wife would be accompanying him on the trip, and the trip's official itinerary noted that McIntyre and his wife would be celebrating their 29th Wedding Anniversary while they were in Rome.

I hope Congressman McIntyre is planning to send out a thank you note to all of the taxpayers who footed the bill for his trip to Rome and his anniversary celebration. 

Perhaps the McIntyres will even be nice enough to bring back some cheap souvenirs for all us who are making their celebration possible. 

And maybe they'll also find time to celebrate North Carolina's 9.7% unemployment rate and our nation's spiraling national debt while they enjoy their taxpayer funded pasta and wine at one of the 5-star hotels where they'll be staying.

Happy Trails, Mike! And Happy Honeymoon!
Andy Yates, Pantano for Congress

Boeing! Boeing! Labor mess turns into headache for Obama.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster


Associated Press
WASHINGTON The government's labor dispute with Boeing Co. is turning into a political headache for President Barack Obama, giving his Republican rivals a fresh opening to bash the administration's economic policies.

From congressional hearings to presidential debates, outraged Republicans are keeping up a steady drumbeat of criticism over the National Labor Relations Board's lawsuit against the aerospace giant.

The NLRB says Boeing retaliated against its unionized workforce in Washington state by opening a new production line for its 787 airplane in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. The agency wants a judge to order Boeing to return all 787 assembly work to Washington, even though the company has already built a new $750 million South Carolina plant and hired 1,000 new workers there.

The case - which could drag on for years - has become an unwanted distraction for Obama as he tries to mend relations with the business community and contend with polls that show growing public disapproval over his handling of the economy.

It makes an easy target for Republicans, who call it a case of government overreaching at a time when the private sector is struggling to create new jobs. And it's a major story in South Carolina - a bellwether early primary state in the GOP presidential race. Candidates are lining up to impress voters and the state's Republican governor, tea party favorite Nikki Haley.

"Obama's NLRB has united the Republican Party and turned this government agency into a political pinata," said GOP consultant Scott Reed. "Boeing spent a billion dollars building a plant to create thousands of jobs and it looks like the NLRB stuck their nose in and tried to pull the rug out."

Business groups and their GOP allies say the government is interfering with the right of company managers to choose where and how to expand business operations. Boeing claims it opened the plant for a variety of economic reasons, but NLRB officials say Boeing executives made public comments showing the move was meant to punish union workers for a series of costly strikes.

For Haley, the case has been a litmus test for every GOP presidential candidate visiting the state. And they have not disappointed her.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, visiting New Hampshire on Monday, said Obama had appointed "union stooges into the NLRB and then they come up with decisions that are really quite extraordinary," like the Boeing lawsuit that he and others have said will drive companies to seek workers overseas.

GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called for defunding the agency during a recent New Hampshire debate, saying the case could threaten the viability of the nation's 22 right-to-work states, where labor unions can't force employees to be members.

And during a tour of South Carolina last week, GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman called on Obama to step in and end the lawsuit to prevent it from scaring other businesses away from the state.

Haley says the only way to make things right "is for the president to tell the NLRB to back off. And until that happens, it is my job to be loud and annoying and in his face until he realizes that what they have done is wrong."

Even South Carolina's Democrats have piled on, focusing on the complaint's effect on business less than the politics of the board.

"Clearly it's an independent agency and is taking an action that I know was not directed by the president," said Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., a Democrat. "But in this case, I think it was a very, very bad decision and a huge mistake that is not good policy for the country."

Obama, ordinarily a reliable supporter of organized labor, has carefully avoided taking a position on the case. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president does not want to interfere with the conduct of an independent federal agency.

"We don't get involved in particular enforcement matters of independent agencies," Carney said last week. "But I would also say that the president has a strong record on labor rights." He added that Obama also supports "a strong private sector in the United States that helps our economy grow and create jobs."

But the issue became more awkward for Obama when John Bryson, his pick to head the Commerce Department and a former Boeing board member, openly criticized the lawsuit during a Senate confirmation hearing last week.

"I think it's not the right judgment," Bryson said. He said Boeing officials thought they were "doing the right thing for the country" by keeping jobs in the U.S. and not moving them overseas.

Some Democrats and union officials have stepped up their defense of the NLRB, saying Republicans are misrepresenting the case against Boeing. Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, accused Republicans of peddling "misinformation," distorting the public perception of the case and unfairly attacking the agency.

Labor experts say if the allegations in the complaint are true, it would constitute a standard violation of federal labor laws, which prohibit a company from moving work to punish union workers for past strikes. The complaint lays out several public statements by Boeing executives saying they wanted to relocate new lines for the Dreamliner because of strike activity, including a 58-day work stoppage in 2008.

But such violations can be difficult to prove, especially if the company can show it had other valid motives for opening the new lines in South Carolina. The government has to show the company relocated work for the purpose of stopping workers from exercising their legal rights to strike, said Catherine Fisk, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine who specializes in labor issues.

Perhaps the best scenario for Obama would be for the case to be settled, an outcome that many labor experts expect.

"The unions don't want an adverse decision, management doesn't want an adverse decision and the best way to avoid that is to reach a settlement on their own," said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University.
Associated Press writers Bruce Smith in Charleston, S.C., and Kathy McCormack in Salem, N.H., contributed to this report.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

National Labor Relations Board continues pro-union, anti-jobs agenda!

Verne Strickland Blogmaster

By Administrator / Pantano for Congress    June 27, 2011

On the heels of its politically charged attempt to stop Boeing from locating a new factory in South Carolina, a right-to-work state, the National Labor Relations Board has continued it's pro-union, anti-job political power grab.  This time  the NLRB wants to change the rules for union elections to create "quickie" elections that will be much easier for labor unions to win (
This is nothing more than a politically charged attempt to stop the spiraling decrease in union membership (down to 6.5% from a high o f35% in the 1950s according to the WSJ)  for the political benefit of President Obama and liberals in Congress at the expense of American jobs. Labor Unions were one of the biggest contributosrs to Obama's election campaign in 2008 and one of the biggest donors to his followers in Congress like Mike McIntyre (Big Labor has donated over $450,000 to McIntyre) and now Obama and friends are politicizing the NLRB because they need the big money from big labor for the 2012 election cylce.  As the Wall Street Journal  editors wrote in their editorial "The Union Quickie,"  is designed to be independent with the purpose of ensuring fair labor practices, but under Obama  the NLRB is now "hyperpolitized" and "an advocate for unions."   
Congressman Joe Kline, Chairman of the House's Education & Workforce Committee was absolutley right in his statement in reacton to the NLRB's proprosal:
“In a direct affront to the millions of Americans desperate for jobs and opportunities, the Obama NLRB continues to push an activist agenda at the expense of our nation’s workforce. Big Labor has found faithful friends on the Obama NLRB who are working hard to ‘fix’ a process that isn’t broken.  Not only will this misguided proposal to expedite union elections undermine an employer’s lawful right to communicate with his or her employees, it will cripple a worker’s ability to make an informed decision. Employers and employees have a right to speak their mind and vote their conscience; I will continue to oppose any effort to undermine these fundamental principles.”

“The board is rushing a flawed proposal through a flawed process that will result in limited public scrutiny and congressional input.  For the sake of the nation’s workers and job creators, I urge the board to scrap this
reckless proposal and abandon its job-destroying agenda.>

Our mailing address is:

Ilario Pantano
PO Box 11280
Wilmington, NC 28404

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North Carolina NAACP -- count your blessings! GOP is more generous than Democrats!

The Republican-controlled General Assembly's redistricting map produces more majority-black districts, for the House and the Senate, than the Democratic-controlled General Assembly created 10 years ago. And although most blacks are glad to hear about the additional 15 House districts and nine Senate districts, there's one organization that's not happy at all — the NAACP.

North Carolina NAACP President William Barber has expressed opposition to the GOP plan, even though it's clearly in favor of the black community. Apparently, Barber is so used to challenging Republicans that he can't stop criticizing them long enough to see that African-Americans will now have more representation in Raleigh.

"To believe the ultra-conservative, extremist majority in the N.C. legislature is suddenly deeply concerned about upholding the civil rights and political power of African-American and minorities and therefore wants us to accept their plan sight unseen is absurd," Barber said in a press release.

Well you can see it, Mr. Barber. And I don't think the black community is complaining. Are you going to urge the Democrats in the legislature to oppose it? Or are you going to organize a march against it in Raleigh? That would be interesting to see.

Other members of the NAACP are already testing the bounds of their credibility. During a public meeting last Friday, Ben Griffin, a member of the NAACP from New Hanover County, said, "This will make it harder, not easier, for minorities to have their interests represented."

More black districts make it harder for minorities to have their interests represented? Maybe in some alternate universe that Griffin is familiar with, but not here on Earth. When you hear ridiculous arguments like this, it almost makes you wonder if the NAACP cares for fair representation for blacks.

If Barber cares about his credibility at all, he'll support the GOP plan. And if he cares about truly expanding the political influence of the black community, he'd use this situation as a springboard to open a dialogue with the Republican Party.

This is an opportunity for Barber to strengthen the political clout of African-Americans. Will he take it? Or will he keep it cornered in the Democratic camp? We'll see.

And the Democrats' response to the new districts is very interesting, too. Obviously, charges of racism won't carry any weight. So they're accusing the GOP of creating more African-American districts so that they can draw the remaining districts for themselves.

Maybe the Democrats can't bear the thought of being openly out-performed on the race issue. If the number of minority districts remained the same, they'd charge the GOP with unfairness. And if the number were fewer, they'd certainly charge the GOP with racism. I'm beginning to think the Democrats are at a loss with how to respond and this is the best they can do.

Here in Forsyth County, there are some people lamenting the loss of Democratic Sen. Linda Garrou. Garrou, who represents the 32nd District, has been redrawn into the 31st District. The 31st, which is represented by Republican Sen. Pete Brunstetter, includes the county area, and its voters are mainly Republicans.

I think those people have lost sight of the most important thing. The important thing is that the people are fairly represented in Raleigh, not whether incumbents keep their seats. The voters are supposed to chose their representatives, not the other way around. The seat belongs to the people.

After redistricting, incumbents sometimes find themselves drawn out their district. Or they're placed in a situation where they have to run against another incumbent from their own party. That's the way it goes. And this time, the GOP is drawing the lines.

And finally, I'm really looking forward to the day when race is no longer a factor in redrawing lines. The fact that so many people believe that there must be districts with African-American majorities proves that many people believe that all African-Americans think alike.

And that's not true. There are black liberals, conservatives, moderates and everything in between. And yes, most black people vote Democratic. But that's not because black people think alike. A big reason for it is cultural conformity, not ideological agreement.

Drawing boundaries that ensure African-American majorities is one of the residual effects of the Jim Crow era. Many people are still sensitive to a time of institutional disenfranchisement. Therefore, any significant demographic change in the districts would certainly bring accusations of racism.

But when organizations such as the NAACP play racial and partisan games, it's going to take much longer for society to get to a place where race will not be a factor in redistricting.

Ken Raymond of Forsyth County is active in Republican Party politics.