Thursday, October 07, 2021

Charles Graham Rises in CD9

Charles Graham, Lumberton's rep in the NC House since 2011, announced way back on February 15 that he was going to run against far-right jerk Dan Bishop in the NC9. That was months ago. But on Tuesday this week Charles Graham arrived, launching the Graham campaign for Congress with a video that instantly went viral (viewed more than 3.2 million times as of noon Tuesday), earning Graham a segment on CNN and national exposure. Cue the money tsunami. Graham became instantly "the new progressive darling" (Jeffrey Billman) because of the tenor of the history he presented in this video, the "Battle of Hayes Pond," January 18, 1958:

Those the KKK intended to bully instead rose up and took the initiative, preemptively struck. It was the Klan that got the bloody nose and literally run off the property. Graham wants to capture that Iron John moment and distill it into a campaign theme that can rally the beat down Democrats and disaffected independents to, well, buck up, strap on, and attack. That's the message, isn't it? Hayes Pond, an effective symbol of group fortitude and initiative. "We don't play with racists." 

That's a good message. Especially cogent in the remarkable age of the Trumpist bullies. 

But of course there'd be a worm in this cabbage. Came out almost immediately that Graham voted with the Republicans for the notorious bathroom bill (HB2). Graham quickly confessed his sin and recanted that vote. Then yesterday morning Jeffrey Billman added details of Graham's anti-abortion votes. More of his voting record in the NC House will continue to emerge.

So he's no progressive, and so what, Alexander Jones argues. Graham's conservative impulses are both inevitable among Democrats in the 9th Congressional District and actually salutary for winning the seat: 

...Graham presents as a strong candidate to win in that district. His Lumbee identity should help him win back the very culturally conservative Native voters who backed Dan Bishop against Dan McCready. In a right-of-center district, his relative conservatism places him close to the center of gravity that most local voters occupy. His strength, furthermore, is in the rural, eastern part of NC-09 that delivered a narrow victory for Bishop in 2019...

Poor Dan McCready, who just because he looked like he might be mild-mannered to the point of turning lib-rel, couldn't win the seat against Bishop in that notorious re-do of the congressional election in 2019. McCready had no liberal record and he stepped around hot-button issues dear to progressive hearts, but he couldn't surge the Democratic vote, maybe because he always wore that spooked look of someone who really wants to hide.

I hope #NotThatAlexJones proves prophetic for 2022. (Personally, I seesaw violently in my own expectations for next year. Sigh.) I can accept Charles Graham. I can live with a conservative Democrat until he turns Joe Manchin on us.

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