I developed some respect for Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory after he met with me against his staff's wishes. But I also value the livelihood of North Carolinians who could suffer greatly if McCrory rubberstamps the reactionary whims of Republicans in the General Assembly, should he be elected. He was wrong for supporting a voter ID bill, fracking and, during the primary, Amendment One. Democrat candidate Walter Dalton is right, so to speak, on those issues.
At times I have been frustrated by Dalton's timid establishment campaign, but to be fair he was given little notice to organize after Gov. Beverly Perdue surprised her party by not seeking re-election. Despite his shortage of bold ideas, he is fighting for public education, the environment and the civil rights of young people, minorities and the poor.
— Michael A. Cooper Jr.
State Supreme Court
Several critical issues could go before the North Carolina Supreme Court in the next term, including redistricting and public education funding, but that's not why the result of this race will determine the future of our state for decades. This is one of the most important races on the ballot for North Carolinians.
Traditionally, statewide judicial candidates raise minimal donations to qualify for public financing, have spending caps on their campaigns, and cannot publicly discuss cases. But that system is in jeopardy. Newly redistricted maps will likely be challenged at this level, and whether they'll be upheld has scared conservative activists into shattering barriers that previously protected judicial races from partisan intrigue and special-interest pressure.
Unofficially, there is a 4-3 advantage for conservatives on the court. The only seat up for grabs is held, at least for now, by incumbent Justice Paul Newby, whose challenger is moderate North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Sam J. Ervin IV. Convinced Newby will decide in their favor, conservative activists formed a super PAC to spend unlimited amounts of money on his behalf. If the super PAC succeeds in re-electing Newby, our courts will be bought and paid for by special interests for the foreseeable future.
I feel so strongly about maintaining neutrality in our courts that I volunteered for Ervin's campaign. He must be re-elected.
North Carolina has maintained a triple-A bond rating, even through the recession, and the state's pension plan has suffered fewer losses than those of our neighbors. State Treasurer Janet Cowell, a former security analyst with an Ivy League education, has kept a cool head and steady hand at the helm of the billions of dollars that fall within her purview.
Her opponent, Steve Royal, is an eccentric ideologue who wants North Carolina to pursue a regional currency. We don't need tea party conspiracies in the State Treasurer's office — we need Cowell.
North Carolina has a tradition of insurance commissioners who actually fight for consumers, and Wayne Goodwin seems determined to carry on that fine habit. Under Goodwin's leadership, the state ramped up investigations and prosecutions of insurance fraud. He required Blue Cross Blue Shield to refund $155 million dollars to 215,000 North Carolina consumers as a result of changes triggered by the Affordable Care Act, and he fined CIGNA Health Care $600,000 while forcing the company to issue nearly $650,000 in refunds. It's no coincidence that North Carolina has the lowest car insurance rates in the South and some of the region's lowest homeowners insurance rates.
— John Grooms
9th Congressional District
For years, we've been embarrassed by the shameful deeds of retiring 9th District Congresswoman Sue Myrick, whose paranoia and xenophobia have become particularly acute as of late. We are happy to see her go.
But we also approach endorsing for this open seat with a desire to go beyond proposing dogmatic liberal ideals. Twelve years into the 21st century, we need national solutions. There can be no other choice but Democrat Jennifer Roberts.
She has consistently impressed us through her work on the Mecklenburg County Commission, to the point that we named her our "Best Member of Local Government" this year. Her opponent, Robert Pittenger, is a tea party firebrand with a radical culture war agenda.
We can do better with Roberts, a moderate faithful to the "vital center" of American politics. She would become a uniting figure for the district by working to achieve both progress and compromise on the domestic issues that have divided us.
8th Congressional District
Incumbent Congressman Larry Kissell has been a major disappointment since first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
We have no qualms with his voting record, including his vote against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, because his Blue Dog politics fit the district, especially after it was just redrawn to remove minority voters around Charlotte.
But Kissell is hardly a profile in courage. He ducked this year's Democratic National Convention for fear of being caught in the same room with progressives — the same folks who broke their backs to elect him.
Instead of hiding, he should have been front row for President Bill Clinton's speech, waving an American flag. But we do not endorse on personality.
Despite what the ads from the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee say, those abandoned factories across the 8th aren't empty because of Kissell. They're empty because of the trickle-down economics and neoliberal trade policies espoused by his opponent Richard Hudson.
Kissell may not be the loudest or most reliable champion for progress, and he's often let us down. But we're sticking with him in the hopes that he'll stick with us.
Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners
All three current at-large members are leaving the board, which, in a way, is a good thing, as the county commission desperately needs some new energy, ideas and personalities. We support Democrats Kim Ratliff and Pat Cotham and Libertarian Jason Bateman (no, not the Hollywood actor). Ratliff is a well-known community activist who received more votes than any other Democrat in the primary. Her incisive intelligence, knowledge of the community and strong support for education make her an easy pick. Cotham has a long history of active public involvement and action on behalf of the disadvantaged. She has first-hand knowledge of both the struggles of the unemployed and the ins and outs of the financial world, making her an ideal person to bring about innovative public-private collaborations to help grow jobs. We are frankly not excited about any other at-large candidates, but we feel it's perhaps time for Libertarians to have a representative in local government. We don't agree with much of the party's fiscal beliefs, but again, this commission seriously needs some shaking up. A Libertarian onboard could do that.
12th Congressional District
Rep. Mel Watt, who serves a safe, gerrymandered district, will be re-elected. We support his re-election, with some reservations. Watt is a ranking member of the House Committee on Financial Services, and despite the fact that his largest contributors include American Express and Goldman Sachs, Watt played a leading role in crafting the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. He also worked out deals with Bank of America for an increase in financing for minority housing. Unfortunately, he also supported American banks that wanted to be free of regulation on their overseas financial swaps. We'd like to see him take a stronger role in oversight of the banking industry that nearly tanked our economy. Watt also co-sponsored the ill-conceived Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have given virtual censorship powers to entertainment corporations — which, by the way, contributed $130,000 to Watt's coffers. Watt showed remarkable unconcern for the facts during the act's hearings, but luckily, the bill was shelved after massive protests from Internet users. So with the proviso that no one should mistake Watt for a champion of the underdog, we support him in his race against Republican Jack Brosch's underfunded, nearly invisible campaign.