Y'all, we need to lay off attacking Mark Robinson. If he makes it through the March 5th Republican primary for governor, he'll offer Democrats their best shot of winning that race. He's a parade float, full of hot air just begging for a puncture, and ... WHAT DID I JUST SAY ABOUT NOT ATTACKING MARK ROBINSON?!?!
Salisbury lawyer Bill Graham, the major threat to Robinson on the Republican side, entered the primary race in October and two weeks later polled at 5%, treated by the press as a number worth noticing, considering that another Republican in the race, Treasurer Dale Folwell, has been a candidate for many months and can't crack 3%. Presumably, Graham shot into (distant) contention because he gave the Republican white base what it most craves, visions of cruelty and force. Graham's very first TV ad, launched immediately after his announcement, played on Republican fantasy fears of urban "coloreds" with clips of gunfights in the streets, a smash-and-grab burglary, a graphic clip of a convenience store shooting. Then cut to Bill Graham who promises, “As governor, I’ll put them in jail or put them in the ground.”
Yee-haw! The unchained melody! (But that's not policy. It's posturing. A 12-year-old could see through it. Graham's chief campaign advisors are establishment Republican operatives, prone to talk the talk -- you betcha! -- but ultimately wise enough not to walk the talk. Trump, of course, was never an establishment Republican, so we can expect that we'll get the worst of what his talk is all about.)
Graham has on staff some of the brightest lights from the Thom Tillis constellation, principally Paul Shumaker as chief strategist. Shumaker has speculated out loud that Robinson's "negatives" mean he can't win the governor race, but Shumaker simply had to go dark and violent in that first TV ad just to get the attention of Republican voters who need to have their fears and prejudices confirmed constantly and directly. I'm waiting to see how Shumaker will also go negative on The Parade Float. Will he prick that thin skin and let the air out? It's possible. But so long as Trump continues to be the runaway favorite in the presidential primary in North Carolina, Mark Robinson as a novel Black fellow-traveler for Trump's planned takeover will probably benefit.
But we're watching Graham. Don't know what his ground game looks like -- if there is a ground game -- but so far he seems dedicated to pumping big money into TV ads that promote fear above everything else. The last I've seen features Graham declaring that he'll stop "Chinese infiltration" of North Carolina, language meant to send a shudder (and which echoes, just incidentally, trumpist contempt for foreigners. Hell! Shumaker's whole media pitch for Graham goes straight for the trumpist trope of "carnage" in America ).