Did Last Night’s Charlotte City Council Meeting Doom Clinton and Democrats in the Big Four NC Council of State Races? Cooper Cannot Win the Governor’s Race Without Black Voters in Charlotte The most consequential political event last night for North Carolina may not have been the presidential debate at Hofstra University, it may have been
Did Last Night's Charlotte City Council Meeting Doom Clinton and Democrats in the Big Four NC Council of State Races?
Cooper Cannot Win the Governor’s Race Without Black Voters in Charlotte
The most consequential political event last night for North Carolina may not have been the presidential debate at Hofstra University, it may have been the Charlotte City Council meeting, where the Democratic Mayor and the 9-2 Democratic majority council faced the furor of African American voters over the handling of the police shooting and killing of Keith Scott last Tuesday.
According to this morning’s Charlotte Observer, A furious crowd of citizens criticized and often shouted down Charlotte City Council on Monday night, calling for resignations across the city and chanting, “Hands Down! Shoot Back!” and “No Justice, No Peace!
Turnout of African-American voters in 2016 without President Obama on the ticket has been a concern among Democrats nationwide after polling discovered early on a lack of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton among black voters. On September 18, 2016, President Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gala dinner audience that he would be “personally insulted” if African American voters did not turn out and vote for Clinton.
According to a story in the NY Times about the President’s comments at the gala, “Younger black voters, in particular, have expressed misgivings about Mrs. Clinton because of some of the policies of her husband’s administration. These voters specifically point to the 1994 crime bill, which put more police officers on the streets, but also led to tougher sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and the overhaul of welfare, which reduced federal assistance for the poor by nearly $55 billion over six years.”
Clinton’s struggle to spark enthusiasm among black voters in Charlotte in particular has already been the topic of considerable ink. Earlier this month, Charlotte Observer writers Fred Clasen-Kelly and Jim Morrill explored the subject in depth in a story titled, Hillary Clinton fighting ‘enthusiasm gap’ among some black voters. Here are key notes from their story:
- African-American voters, about 23% of North Carolina’s registered voters, are 33% in Mecklenburg County [227,720 African American voters of 689,663 total]
- Rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs urged blacks to hold their support and “make them come for our vote”
- CBS News Battleground Tracker poll showed 91% of NC black voters supporting Clinton but only 53% who said they were “enthusiastic” about their choice
In the final analysis, turnout of the Obama coalition of African Americans, women and Millennial voters will decide the fate of Democrats on November 8, 2016 in races like U.S. President, U.S. Senate, N.C. Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Supreme Court Justice (Bob Edmunds’ seat), and 5 seats on the N.C. Court of Appeals.
On the other hand, the outcome of these Council of State races are likely no matter who wins the presidential turnout contest: Auditor, Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Insurance, Commissioner of Labor, Secretary of State, and Superintendent of Public Instruction.
North Carolina Democrats are likely to hang on to four of their six Council of State offices with or without Hillary Clinton carrying the state, but unless she rekindles the political passion of African Americans and Millennials, Democrats may miss opportunities to hold Attorney General and Treasurer and pick up Lt. Governor and Governor.
Last year, on July 14, 2015, the John Davis Political Report was titled, The Five Safest Incumbents in 2016 American Politics are the Female Members of the North Carolina Council of State. I noted that their combined political campaign record was 18 wins and 0 losses. Included among the 18 vanquished foes were 16 male opponents.
Four of those five incumbent women are seeking reelection and are likely to win handily no matter who wins the presidential race.
- Elaine Marshall, D-Harnett, Secretary of State, the first woman elected to a statewide executive office (1996) in North Carolina history
- Cherie Berry, R-Catawba, first woman elected Commissioner of Labor (2000), and the first female Republican to serve on the North Carolina Council of State
- June Atkinson, D-Wake, first woman elected Supt. of Public Instruction (2004)
- Beth Wood, D-Craven, first woman elected State Auditor (2008)
The fifth incumbent woman in last July’s report was North Carolina Treasurer Janet Cowell, a Wake County Democrat elected in 2008, who is not seeking reelection.
Frankly, all five women on the North Carolina Council of State have won their campaigns without Hillary Clinton’s coattails. That’s why I argue that their combined 18-and-0 win-loss record from 1996 through 2012, suggests that they do not need Clinton to win reelection.
According to The Council of State Governments, North Carolina’s five statewide elected executive offices held by women is more than any other state. Add the five elected female executives to the seven female Judges on the NC Court of Appeals and the three female Justices on the NC Supreme Court, and you will see fertile ground for women candidates.
In addition to the four women (Democrats Marshall, Atkinson and Wood; Republican Berry) on the Council State likely to win reelection no matter who wins the presidential race, there are two men equally likely to win their races no matter who wins the presidency, Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, R-Guilford, and Commissioner of insurance Wayne Goodwin, D-Richmond.
These facts give six of the ten Council of State members a “likely winners” status:
- Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, D-Harnett, defeated her Republican opponent in 2012 by 54% to 46%, thanks in part to a 7-to-1 fundraising advantage. Seeking her 6th term in 2016, Marshall’s midyear report with the State Board of Elections (SBOE) shows a 16-to-1 fundraising advantage.
- Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, R-Catawba, defeated her Democratic opponent in 2012 by 53% to 47% thanks in part to a 10-to-1 fundraising advantage. Seeking her 5th term in 2016, Berry’s midyear report with the SBOE shows $78,621 raised, a 1-to-4 disadvantage compared to her Democratic challenger Charles Meeker, former Raleigh Mayor, who reported raising $272,709 midyear. But, the political value of Berry’s picture in every elevator in North Carolina: priceless.
- Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, D-Wake, defeated her Republican opponent in 2012 by 54% to 46%, thanks in part to a 4-to-1 fundraising advantage. Seeking her 4th term in 2016, Atkinson’s midyear report with the SBOE shows $87,230 raised, a 1-to-2.5 disadvantage compared to her Republican challenger Mark Johnson, a member of the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Board of Education who reported raising $209,000 midyear.
- State Auditor Beth Wood, D-Craven, defeated her Republican opponent in 2012 by 54% to 46%, thanks in part to a 16-to-1 fundraising advantage. Seeking her 3rd term in 2016, Wood’s midyear report with the SBOE shows a 5-to-1 fundraising advantage.
- Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, R-Guilford, defeated his Democratic opponent in 2012 by 53% to 47%, thanks in part to a 17-to-1 fundraising advantage. Seeking his 4th term in 2016, Troxler’s midyear report with the SBOE shows an 8-to-1 fundraising advantage.
- Commissioner of Insurance Wayne Goodwin, D-Richmond, defeated his Republican opponent in 2012 by 52% to 48%, thanks in part to a 6-to-1 fundraising advantage. Seeking his 3rd term in 2016, Goodwin’s midyear report with the SBOE shows a 26-to-1 fundraising advantage.
Today, over a half-million more women are registered in North Carolina than men. There are 3,585,663 registered female voters (54%) compared to 3,022,545 male voters (46%).
North Carolina female candidates have outmuscled their male opponents in 34 of the 45 General Election contests since Election Year 2000, for a winning record of 75.5%. In the 2012 presidential election in North Carolina, female voters outnumbered male voters by 490,000 votes out of 4.3 million votes cast.
If Hillary Clinton manages to inspire the Obama coalition to turn out in numbers close to 2008 and 2012, the added boost of gender pride in the first female President will ensure that she wins the White House with the help of swing states like North Carolina.
However, as noted in this morning’s Charlotte Observer, if angry African Americans are shouting down and calling for the resignations of the Democratic mayor of Charlotte and the 9-2 majority Democratic council, while chanting incendiary threats like “Hands Down! Shoot Back!” and “No Justice, No Peace! … turnout of all constituencies will likely be impacted throughout Mecklenburg County.
Mecklenburg County, #1 in the state with registered voters (689,663), with 33% of those voters being African American (227,720), may well decide all of the close statewide races like U.S. President, U.S. Senate, N.C. Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Supreme Court Justice (Bob Edmunds), and the 5 seats on the N.C. Court of Appeals.
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