Note: I put this on facebook first as a note and figured I'd share it here. Let me know if you have any input on the races I didn't know much about. Note that some of these are Orange County specific.
First, I want to get one thing out of the way: there is a referendum on a land transfer tax for the county. This is a very good policy and should be passed. The transfer tax is basically a 0.4% sales tax on real estate. It's a very low rate, especially compared to the 6% realtors charge to sell a house. It will help keep the regressive sales tax low. It will also keep the property tax low, which for a high property value county like Orange is very desirable for farmers and the poor and middle class. Basically all the opposition to the transfer tax comes from realtors concerned about a small dent in their profit margin. Please support this referendum.
Now to more exciting stuff. I'm doing these in order of a combination of how excited I am by them and how likely they are to be overlooked.
For Lieutenant Governor, Dan Besse. He's been working in public service for over 30 years all over the state. He's worked in the rural, poor eastern part of the state and as a councilman in Winston-Salem. He's a lawyer and has done legal aid and environmental protection work. He even proposed NCDP's resolution against the Iraq war. You name it, he's done it. As a Raleigh outsider, he would bring a much-needed local perspective, and his presence would ensure that the normally out of touch Raleigh establishment would know what we all think. Also, he is the single most accessible public figure I've ever met. He's very conscientious about public service and is dedicated to helping people. (Ask me about him; I can talk for hours.) Oh yeah, and he got endorsed by Progressive Democrats of NC. He would be an excellent LG and I encourage everyone to support him.
For President, Barack Obama. It took me a while to come around to him. I was originally an Edwards supporter (which obviously didn't work out.) I'm supporting Barack now for several reasons. One, he has the charisma and leadership skills (as demonstrated by his phenomenal campaign against huge odds) necessary not just to win the White House, but to elect tons of progressives with him downballot. He already helped Bill Foster, a great progressive, get elected in former Speaker Hastert's old district. We need a progressive government to get progressive change, and he's the one who can get us that government.
Two, his leadership style is totally unlike the other candidates left. When faced with a challenge, he doesn't call a pollster and ask what to do or try to weasel out. He responds forcefully and sticks up for his beliefs. When Hillary and the media got into a frenzy over things his preacher said years ago, he didn't distance himself from his good friend or throw him under the bus. He seized the moment to give a historic speech on race in America. THAT is leadership. THAT is focusing the country on things that really matter instead of the pseudo-news and manufactured scandals the media prefers. This guy is honest, bold, and willing to stand up for what's right.
Three, he's bringing tons of people into the political process. People who are progressive by nature but disengaged. He's inspiring thousands, maybe millions, to volunteer, caucus, vote, and care about politics again. In a government largely run by corporate interests, bringing people back into politics is a huge gain for Democracy.
Finally, he's made such an impact on the attitude of the country. I never got the "hope" thing because I've always been optimistic about politics, but to see the change that's happening where people are not only recognizing that we've dug ourselves into a hole, but that we can dig ourselves out, and to see them take action to do so, is very inspiring. I've been doing political stuff since 2004, trying to get people to care and vote Democrat, and to see him getting so many people to do that is such a great feeling. If he can get America this upbeat despite 80% of us thinking the country's on the wrong track, that's amazing.
For NC Senate: Ellie Kinnaird. She's one of the best state senators there is and has always represented us well. She makes me proud to be a Dem.
For Insurance Commissioner, Wayne Goodwin. The guy he's running against is great and knows his stuff, but so is Wayne, plus he's been working in that office for years and the transition would be seamless. Plus, he's got experience running campaigns and would be a very likely victory. Also, he's very good at staying in touch with ordinary people. Finally, he's just that cool.
For Governor: No idea, probably leaning a little toward Bev Perdue. If anyone has input about this I'd love to hear it. My take is that they're a lot more similar than they'd admit and both are heads above Republicans Pat McCrory or highway profiteer Fred Smith.
For US Senate: I like 'em both ok. I'll probably vote for Jim Neal because he's more liberal and the underdog. If Kay wins I will be proud to vote for her in November.
For Judge: Kristin Ruth and Jim Wynn. Judicial races are nominally nonpartisan, but Republican-aligned judges tend to consider their position more legislative than it should be. If you want the laws to be enforced fairly, vote for Ruth and Wynn.
I don't know too much about the following races and am mostly just going on endorsements and things I hear. If anyone's an expert on these I'd love to hear your input.
Treasurer: I've heard some really great things about Janet Cowell. Apparently she really delivered for us in the legislature.
Labor Commissioner: I've heard good things about Robin Anderson. Whoever the nominee is, I hope to god they beat incumbent Cherie Berry. A Republican as Labor Commissioner is like Dick Cheney with a shotgun as his friend's bodyguard.
County Commission at-large: Not Mary Wolff. She hasn't campaigned seriously and is married to the perennial Republican Chapel Hill mayoral candidate Kevin Wolff (who isn't serious about it either.) Maybe they both just like seeing their name on the ballot? Either of the other two candidates would be great; they're both progressive and active in the community.
For State Superintendent: June Atkinson is doing a good job. Vote for June in May!
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