Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Un-Trumping North Carolina: Democrat Cal Cunningham for US Senate

We've been knowing Cal Cunningham for a decade, ever since he emerged to challenge Elaine Marshall in the US Senate Democratic primary in 2010, not a particularly good year to be a rising Democratic Party star, but we were impressed with Cal. We couldn't support him in that primary because we were pledged to Elaine Marshall, but we thought he had a bright and shining future in North Carolina politics. Took a decade, but he finally came back to give Thom Tillis a good case of flop sweat in 2020.

Tillis won the seat in 2014 by less than 2 percentage points, and he hasn't done much to improve his standing with the voters. Now he's indelibly labeled a Trump lickspittle who attempted a couple of times to look like an independent and ended up just looking weak and confused. A survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling released recently showed his approval at just 26 percent (The Hill).

He's being propped up by Republican "super PACs." Reuters reported than at least $47.4 million is flowing into North Carolina already, but that counts also what Cunningham is getting from Democratic PACs, which is a lot. Both the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball now rate the race a toss-up, which probably means if North Carolina flips to Biden, Tillis is toast.

How nervous is Tillis? So nervous he's robo-calling our landline multiple times, like he thinks he's going to persuade a Democrat as blue as this one to come to his aid? Three debates with Cunningham have been set, but Tillis is actually pressing for even more -- a sign that he knows he's losing: "Usually it’s challengers who press incumbents to debate, hoping for the free exposure of a televised encounter" (Jim Morrill, Charlotte Observer).

Cal has received some criticism for appearing too moderate for the times, partly because his primary opponent Erica Smith was such a progressive bomb-thrower. Before he fully fleshed out his policy positions on his website, I was one of those critical voices last September because I was afraid Cal was slipping into "McCreadyism." I don't worry about that any more: "...many of the candidates in swing states are more liberal than their counterparts just a decade ago. Every Senate candidate in a major race, from Mark Kelly in Arizona to Cal Cunningham in North Carolina, supports a public option to compete with private health insurance plans" (Politico).

Cal has to be careful about corporate money. He has not taken money from corporate PACs, but he has received money from business executives and PACs that receive money from corporations (Politifact). That's maybe not concerning on the face of it, unless he starts trimming his policy positions to suit those donors. Then he'll catch hell.

Cal's launch video was strong and well done. You can watch it on his website. Below is his short victory speech after winning the March primary:


Red Hornet said...

Cal Cunningham owes an ideological debt to Erica Smith even if she may have accepted some dark Republican support. She rejected any PAC money and raised funds on the Bernie Sanders model. By having to calculate a more progressive line Cal avoided me-tooing to "thoughtless conservatism." Jerry says Erica was a bomb-thrower, but I doubt an ordained minister (Masters in Theology from Howard), an engineer (NC A&T), high school STEM teacher, school board member and State Senator could be fitted into that category. Yep, she supports a Green New Deal and Universal Healthcare of any sort but is also a fiscal conservative who expects that assisting the public will save what is wasted now on PPP and private profits, and make for a sustainable budget in the long haul. With our recent turn of events I expect Smith will be a strong supporter of Cunningham, in hope that he may be a "grenade roller" who will blast apart denialism, austerity and precarity in the US Senate. Even a White male can do the right thing.

I'm laughing heartily at Thom Tillis' trailer park ads because they are goofy and awkward, and they even invite scrutiny of his personal finances. Anyone with a brain or heart would be ashamed to be represented by such a crass phony. He never explains how supporting insurance companies, profiteering hospitals, drug firms and the greediest of doctors confers any choices on patients. He can't. It's all part of the market fundamentalist voodoo. We are very lucky to be shedding both Tillis and Burr very soon. Now we must both support and push Cunningham. Climate change has already overtakren us.

Anonymous said...

After crickets for 6 years, suddenly I'm getting long-winded robocalls inviting me to campaign/town hall meetings. Oh, and mailings inviting me to be one of 'only 1,000' people to be part of the 'Tillis 100'. I dunno, but my math skills have always been pretty good and that just seems a little off.

p.s.I'll see your level of Blueness and raise you some. I have NO idea how I wound up on his mailing list, either!