Monday, January 30, 2012

Democratic National Convention 2012 Notebook: N.C. a focus in presidential politics

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 7:06 PM

  • Perdue
If you were paying attention to recent political developments, you couldn’t miss North Carolina’s starring role.

There was Gov. Bev Perdue’s announcement that she would not run for re-election. Perdue had gotten more love outside the state than in. She was praised on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show for vetoing GOP-backed bills that restricted abortion rights and introduced voter ID, but her poll numbers in the state have been dismal. This unsettles this year’s gubernatorial race, even as former Mayor Pat McCrory can’t wait and Mayor Anthony Foxx’s name is floated. Foxx, host of the Democratic National Convention in September, was not expected to be in the middle of another election battle.

The President, in a statement, said of Perdue: “For over 25 years, she has fought for the people of the Tar Heel State — working to transform the state’s public schools, improve the health care system, protect and attract jobs for members of the military and their families, and create the jobs of the future.”

Less dramatic, but also noteworthy, was the North Carolina-heavy guest list in Michelle Obama’s box during the president’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday. Jackie Bray of King's Mountain sat next to the first lady. “I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity as Jackie did,” President Obama said, after recounting her story. Laid off from her job as a mechanic, Bray was hired as a process operator at Siemens Charlotte Energy Hub after taking courses designed by a partnership between the company and Central Piedmont Community College. The president said her success story should be used as a model.

Bruce Cochrane, president and CEO of Lincolnton Furniture, earned his spot for starting his company after new owners bought the furniture company his family had owned for decades and moved it to China. Cochrane had attended President Obama’s Insourcing American Jobs Forum.

Eugene Robinson
  • Eugene Robinson
At Johnson C. Smith University on Thursday night, as part of the school’s Democracy 2012: The Road to Charlotte lecture series, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Eugene Robinson gave North Carolina a preview of what’s to come as he surveyed the political scene.

Robinson shared his own story of growing up in Orangeburg, S.C., where from his home a few hundred yards away he could witness events leading to the 1968 “Orangeburg massacre,” when police shot into a crowd protesting segregation at a local bowling alley, killed three and injured many others. In 2008, Robinson called his parents in Orangeburg to tell them they had lived to see the election of the first African American president of the United States.

“You bet, race is a factor,” Robinson said, when measuring the disrespect and de-legitimization of that president in the years since.

Comparing his campaign coverage in the last presidential election cycle and this one, Robinson said that in 2008 excitement was on the Democratic side. This year, it’s “all about the Republicans.” They have “a lot of energy and, frankly, a lot of anger.” No matter which candidate the GOP chooses, he predicts “a very close election.”

Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning Charlotte, N.C.-based journalist, is a contributor to The Washington Post's “She the People” blog, The Root, NPR and the Nieman Watchdog blog. Her “Keeping It Positive” segment airs Wednesdays at 7:10 a.m. on Fox News Rising Charlotte, and she was national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter.

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