Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Dems #ncga Candidates Catching Fire All Across the State

I wrote about Democratic NC House candidate Terri LeGrand showing some fundraising strength in Forsyth County yesterday. Today brings plenty more fundraising news in that same vein. If campaign fundraising is a barometer -- and it is -- then these General Assembly candidates below are looking gooder and gooder for this November.

In House District 52, Lowell Simon out-raised Republican incumbent Jamie Boles $11,987.68 to $8,450 during the Second Quarter of 2018. Those are low numbers on both sides but still interesting. Boles may be suffering from over-confidence, since he's had no opponent at all for ten years. But he's lugging some serious baggage -- evidence of self-dealing and other corruption.
Democrat Lowell Simon looks viable. He is a recently retired high school math teacher, a profession he came to late in his career after many years in business. First in New York state and then in North Carolina, he managed chains of convenience stores. He was vice president of operations for Quick Chek, a chain of about 30 convenience stores based in Troy, which brought him and his family to Seven Lakes to live. He later bought into Southern Pines based Fuel Mate, which had six BP stores. During his time teaching math at Union Pines High School, the superintendent tapped him to start an entrepreneurship program for students. "Simon has served on the boards of Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds and the North Carolina Council on the Holocaust. A political appointee of three different state House speakers from both parties, he has helped draft key legislation, including the formation of the NC Lottery .... He currently serves on the boards of Moore Regional Hospital and Moore Forward, and is president emeritus of the Sandhills Jewish Congregation" (ThePilot.com).

In Senate District 1, Democrat D. Cole Phelps raised $73,788.04 to Republican opponent Bob Steinburg's $48,417.50 during he Second Quarter. Senate District 1 hugs the coast in the northeastern corner of the state. Steinburg is currently a member of the NC House looking to move up in the world. Tea partiers consider him a cuck.
Democrat Cole Phelps is a young lawyer. How young? When he was elected to the county commission of Washington County at 24, he was the youngest member of any county commission in the state. He's serving his second term now at the age of 29. He was the first in his family to go to college, first to East Carolina for a degree in Family and Community Services and then to NC Central School of Law. He got a leg up to get that good education, and it says something about him that he immediately turned around and established a scholarship program for deserving first-generation, college-bound students in several east Carolina counties. From his very first campaign for county commission, he was pumping education and the need to keep kids in school and make college more possible. He's been named a William C. Friday Fellow. That's a prestigious group of 200 citizens deemed crucial leaders in their local communities. For the record (and this particular issue looks decisive on the coast), he's an outspoken opponent of Twitterman's scheme to drill for oil in North Carolina waters.

In Senate District 25, Democrat Helen Probst Mills outraised Republican incumbent Tom McInnis $87,933.80 to $64,642.52 in the Second Quarter. McInnis is propped up by PAC money. He was also propped up by the Republican leadership in the House during a destructive primary in May against Tea Party opposition. When you're propped up that much, you run the risk of becoming a prop.
Democrat Helen Probst Mills has been on our radar since the second week of February. She's an attorney from Pinehurst and entered politics this year, she says, in part to simply provide an option. “The reality is that I walk in on Election Day to the polling booth here in Pinehurst and there are no Democrats for me to check. We need a choice,” Mills said. “There needs to be an opportunity for an individual to stand up and to make him crystalize his position on issues and policies and to defend the votes he has taken.” Mills says she grew up a daughter to a single mother and is herself the mother of three and a cancer survivor who moved to North Carolina with her husband, Stuart, in 2006. She is licensed to practice law in Illinois. Last year, Mills was appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees. She also serves on the college’s Foundation Board, where she helped develop a program allowing high school graduates to attend for two years tuition-free. She serves as development chair for the Northern Moore Family Resource Center in Robbins, which has opened a preschool and is developing a community center. She credits the overcoming of breast cancer to having health insurance: “Everyone, no matter their background or how much money they make, should have access to affordable, quality health care. Yet too many politicians in Raleigh put petty partisan politics over policies that would help thousands. That is wrong for my community and for North Carolina.” (Republican incumbent McInnis opposed, like most other Republicans in Phil Berger's senate, the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.)

In House District 36, Democrat Julie von Haefen outraised Republican incumbent and powerful chair of the House Budget Committee Nelson Dollar $70,281.64 to $38,800 in the Second Quarter. Rep. Dollar, in terms of what his pelt will fetch, is a rhino, a bull elephant, and a giraffe all in one. This is a Wake County district that was spitefully redrawn to cut out Democratic stars who had wanted to run against him, leaving the current Democratic challenger to screw up her courage and step forward to the challenge.

Democrat Julie von Haefen is president of the Wake County PTA Council and has three school-age children in the Wake County public schools. She scorched Dollar in her filing announcement for what his state budgets have done to public education: "From the expansion of school vouchers and charter schools to the failure to pay our teachers and principals what they deserve, Representative Dollar and his legislature have harmed our students and our schools. Most recently, their reckless and unfunded K-3 class size mandate caused unnecessary stress for school districts across the state. It is time to put our teachers and our children ahead of partisan politics. North Carolina's students deserve better than they are getting from our legislature. They deserve increased funding for school counselors and nurses. And they deserve a public school system with the funding and resources it needs to prepare them for the future. We owe it to our students, and to the economy, and to the state." Von Haefen is married to an NC State professor, and they have lived in Apex for the last 13 years. She trained as a lawyer and practiced law for 10 years.

In House District 51, Democrat Lisa Mathis has seriously outraised Republican incumbent John Sauls during both quarters of 2018 -- $24,963.53 to $3,500 in the First Quarter, and $49,495.26 to $5,050 in the Second Quarter.
Lisa Mathis was a "military kid" who says that repeatedly moving all over the country taught her "courage, adaptability, and a deep respect for the sacrifices of our service members and their families." She trained as an artist and graphic designer and opened a small graphic design business in Sanford, N.C. Deeply involved in community and profoundly appreciative of putting down deep roots in a single place, she started a second small business in 2003, ArtStudio in downtown Sanford, "a place for children and adults to explore their creativity." Especially children. She is a strong advocate for education spending and for expanding Medicaid. She talks on her website about helping working families and encouraging small businesses, especially in areas previously devastated by the Bush recession. She's got boots on the ground -- a good following of willing volunteers -- and a field organizer. Always a good sign.

In Senate District 9, Democrat Harper Peterson raised $52,316.03 to Republican incumbent Mike Lee's $36,300 in the Second Quarter. Lee had 20 Second Quarter donors, 11 of which were special interest PACs.
Democrat Harper Peterson has been a leader in the reaction to the GenX pollution crisis and helped start the community watchdog group Clean Cape Fear. He's also a former mayor of Wilmington and city councilman. He announced that he was running for this seat back last September. He says, "Unfortunately, in recent years, the basic needs and guaranteed rights of North Carolinians have taken a backseat to the interests of politicians and their big donors. Specifically, they have spread distrust among North Carolinians while trading to their donors our excellent public schools, quality healthcare and natural resources for tax giveaways. The games at our expense have to stop. I now have the time and energy and the full support of my family and friends to serve and be a voice for common sense in our state legislature." Peterson is critical of current Republican legislative priorities: "Too many of our representatives ignored the governor’s request for $2.6 million in emergency funds for the Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Health and Human Services to vigorously address GenX and other cancer-causing compounds that have been dumped into our river. Additionally, tax giveaways to corporate interests have been paid for through slashed budgets and staffing for the state agencies who could have been proactive in defending us from this poison in our water." He also wants to bring back the film industry, which the General Assembly essentially ran out of North Carolina in one of its budget bills.

In Senate District 41, Democrat Natasha Marcus raised $113,802.53 from 375 donors during the First Quarter, while the Republican incumbent Jeff Tarte raised $35,456.34 from 53 donors. In the Second Quarter, Tarte went ahead of Marcus by $7,300, but for the year Marcus is still ahead of Tarte. She has hundreds of donors. Tarte has far fewer, many of which are special interest PACs.
Democrat Natasha Marcus has been on my radar since early in February. She made an unsuccessful bid for the state House in her Cornelius neighborhood in 2014, when Republican John Bradford III defeated her 55 to 45 percent. “The policies that touch our lives most closely often come from the state level,” Marcus told WUNC. “Federal politics is important, but what happens at the General Assembly in Raleigh – from public school funding, to healthcare, to whether we’re going to have to pay tolls here in the North Mecklenburg area is also important." According to Ballotpedia, Marcus earned her B.A. in public policy from Hamilton College and her J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 1994. Her professional experience includes working as a lawyer for Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard; as Judicial Clerk for the Honorable Frank W. Bullock, Jr. of the U.S. District Court in Greensboro; and as a founding member of DavidsonLearns, a non-profit providing senior citizen learning and enrichment. Marcus intends a fight for the seat: “Cuts to public pre-K through higher education, unconstitutional laws, politicians who put polluters over our clean air and water, policies that make healthcare more expensive and less accessible, and expensive toll lanes on I-77 have taken us backwards. Like many people in our community, I am fed up with being ignored by Raleigh Republicans and am ready to take a stand.”

Two of the candidates above -- Lisa Mathis and Cole Phelps -- are new to this blog. I've written about the others before and -- full disclosure -- I have cannibilized those earlier postings for the one above.

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