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  Politics and Elections
   2010 Elections - North Carolina House Races
Thursday, November 4, 2010
"Adopt-a-race" news: Ellmers' win threatened by shady dealings - updated
The only House race in North Carolina to go from blue to red on Election Day happened to be Renee Ellmers' challenge to incumbent Bob Etheridge in NC-2.  That is significant both because she was not projected to win by me or any top pundits and because early on in the cycle I picked NC-2 as my "adopted" race.  Her razor-close victory has now come under assault by Democrats in the district.

This is a serious situation that reeks of foul play.  This morning, I heard reports that 400 extra votes for Etheridge in Sampson County were somehow "found" by officials there.  In addition, that same county claims to have reported vote totals incorrectly.  According to what I've heard, their "error" would take a substantial number of votes away from Ellmers and give them to Etheridge.  This race is far from decided.  I hope you will join me in praying that justice will be served and that the true winner on Tuesday will rightfully emerge.

I can't help but think of stolen races in Washington in 2004 (Rossi/Gregiore) and Minnesota in 2008 (Coleman/Franken).  I fear we may have another crime taking place in 2010.  This time in my own backyard.

Update:  This article confirms the Sampson County vote.  Ellmers' lead can withstand a 450-vote hit, and if that's all then she should win the recount.  Let's just hope there are no more surprises.

Filed under:  2010 Elections  House  North Carolina  NC House  Adopt-a-race, NC-2 

posted by Scott Elliott at 3:34pm 11/04/10::

Monday, October 11, 2010
Adopt-a-race: Ellmers chances upgraded in NC-2 race
Charlie Cook has moved the battle for Bob Etheridge's seat from Likely DEM to Lean DEM.  His update means the seat now projects as a Mod DEM Hold here at Election Projection, and that earns it a spot on my hotly-contested House race tracking list.  Though Stuart Rothenberg and CQ Politics don't see this race as all that competitive, I have a hunch my adopted candidate, Renee Ellmers, will pull it out come November 2.

Filed under:  House  North Carolina  NC House  Adopt-a-race, NC-2 

posted by Scott Elliott at 8:52pm 10/11/10::
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Rating change: Catching up, House of Representatives
Continuing our catch-up rating change tour, we turn to the House.  Three seats in the House changed hands this week (before today's update, that is - I'll get to that shortly).
  • Positive polling this week for incumbent Democrat Chris Carney moved his PA-10 re-election bid against Republican Thomas Marino back to the blue column.  On Wednesday, his race moved from Weak GOP Gain to Weak DEM Hold.
  • The next day, Thursday, Larry Kissell saw his race move in the opposite direction.  He currently represents North Carolina CD-8 but is projected to concede that right to Republican Harold Johnson.  This one moved from Weak DEM Hold to Weak GOP Gain.
  • Then on Friday, the razor close race for South Dakota's at-large district also flipped from a Weak DEM Hold to Weak GOP Gain.  Democrat Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, the incumbent here, and Republican Kristi Noem have been running neck and neck for some time.  This one should go down to the wire.
  • All told, that's two new GOP gains minus one former GOP gain now back in the Democratic fold.  That brings the net projected GOP gain in the House (again, before today's update) to 43 seats, 4 more than they need to win the majority.

    Filed under:  Ratings changes  North Carolina  NC House  Pennsylvania  PA House  South Dakota  SD House 

    posted by Scott Elliott at 11:56pm 10/09/10::
    Thursday, October 7, 2010
    Adopt-a-race, NC-2: Tale of Two Bobs
    It has been a while since I posted anything on my adopted race.  Several weeks ago, I decided to "adopt" the race between Democratic incumbent Bob Etheridge and his Republican challenger Renee Ellmers.  Since it is close by here in North Carolina and since I believe it represents the kind of district the GOP will win in a really big wave election, it seemed like a good candidate - plus, my friend and distant cousin, Lorie Byrd, works for the Ellmers campaign.

    In recent weeks, with all the work it takes to keep up with all the polls, I haven't been able to dedicate much time to posting on the race.  Today, though, I came across a website that moved me to blogging action.  One characteristic of many Democratic congressmen who hail from Republican-leaning districts is a conservative streak.  These congressmen don't always vote with the liberals on Capitol Hill.  Like them, Etheridge is a Democrat from Republican district who claims at home not to be in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi and other congressional liberals.  Unlike them, however, his actual deeds when on the job so closely follow Pelosi's bidding that he appears much more like Barney Frank than Ben Nelson.

    Check out the website for plentiful examples of the Two Bobs.  And if you're a conservative or moderate living in NC-2, make sure you remember the Pelosi-clone "DC Bob" whenever you hear "NC Bob's" disingenuous conservative pitch.

    Hat tip:  Riehl World View

    Filed under:  House  North Carolina  NC House  Adopt-a-race, NC-2 

    posted by Scott Elliott at 7:50pm 10/07/10::
    Friday, August 20, 2010
    North Carolina CD-2: My "adopt-a-race" choice
    As we move toward a pivotal midterm election, the political tide favors the Republican Party.  The winds blowing across the country are bringing many races into play that would normally not be hotly-contested.  North Carolina CD-2 is in many ways a microcosm of the national political landscape.  As in other House races, the incumbent, Democrat Bob Etheridge, has a long string of convincing electoral victories in the district, but he's facing a strong challenge this year from a first time candidate.  And like many, his opponent, Republican Renee Ellmers, was heavily involved in grass roots politics before deciding to run for office.

    As a native North Carolinian, I'm excited to have this kind of race taking place in my neck of the woods, and having a friend and distant cousin working for the Ellmers campaign only increases my interest in it.  So, today I am "adopting" the Etheridge-Ellmers matchup as my spotlight race for the cycle.  What does that mean?  From time to time as we near the election, I'll be posting stuff on the race and how it is progressing.  I hope that this will serve as an interesting "inside look" into a race that represents the possibilities afforded by this year's Republican resurgence.

    Right now, most pundits still rate this race a longshot for Ellmers, despite her solid, if scarce, polling numbers and Etheridge's early summer YouTube blunder.  Those who would say she's unlikely to win point to her campaign's lack of funds as part of their rationale.  That's a valid concern, to be sure, but perhaps the recent endorsement by Sarah Palin will improve her financial standing and make her more competitive on that front.

    To win the House majority, the GOP probably doesn't have to win this race.  However, much more than the majority is in play for them in the lower chamber, and if the GOP is to realize that tremendous potential, races like this will need to move into the red column.  With polls showing her tied to slightly ahead of Etheridge, I think calling Ellmers a longshot right now is too pessimistic about her chances.  For sure, some healthy fundraising in the coming weeks would remove that label and land this race squarely in toss-up territory.

    Filed under:  Adopt-a-race, NC-2  House  North Carolina  NC House  Renee Ellmers 

    posted by Scott Elliott at 3:18pm 08/20/10::
    Monday, August 9, 2010
    "On the ground" in North Carolina
    Karl wrote in late last week with some good on the ground information from my home state of North Carolina.  It looks like the Old North State could be treasure trove for House Republicans this November.  While a couple of early NRCC targets have fallen down the vulnerability scale, others have become much more competitive than anyone expected a year ago.
    Early favorites, NC-8 and NC-13, found crowded GOP fields, faced bitter primaries and eventually ended in competitive run-offs.  This brought about plenty of anger and negative campaigning between factions of Republicans, creating a Tea Party vs. conservative GOP divide that still lingers and threatens these opportunities for GOP gains.

    However, NC-8 still remains a major focus of the NCGOP and the NRCC, and many Tea Party voters have come around to supporting GOP nominee Harold Johnson after their favorite, Tim D'Annunzio, was shown to be a strange, troubled candidate, who had deceived even close supporters about his past.  D'Annunzio's subsequent lawsuit against the NCGOP and Johnson has actually helped to reveal his true nature and allowed for some GOP reconciliation between his former supporters and Johnson.

    In NC-13, where Tea Party candidate Bill Randall won the run-off, many in the conservative GOP base are unconvinced that conspiracy-prone Randall can stay on message long enough to defeat the Democratic incumbent, Brad Miller.  NC-13 is a long, strangely gerrymandered district, which pairs conservative white rural Republican vote in the northern counties with urban portions of inner-city Raleigh and Greensboro.  While the NRCC hopes for NC-13 have dwindled, if Randall, a Black Republican from Raleigh, can make meaningful gains among traditionally Dem-leaning voters in those urban areas, he still has some opportunity for a victory.  (Scott's note:  He could also pull out a squeaker if the enthusiasm gap yields high enough Republican turnout in this district on Election Day.  That seems to be a more plausible path to victory for Randall than winning over the urban Democratic vote.)

    Beyond these early targets, several other seats are now in play.  NC-7 and NC-11, which seemed safe for Democrat Rep. Mike McIntyre and Rep. Heath Shuler - especially after they voted against Obamacare - are now some of the most fertile areas for Republican pick-ups.  Republicans already have a voting advantage in these districts, and despite McIntyre and Shuler being Blue Dogs, they're still Democrats who would vote to keep Pelosi as Speaker.  This, as much as anything, has opened up these races.  But there are other issues aiding Republicans as well.

    In NC-7, Republicans got an unexpected surprise when conservative Catholic Marine Ilario Pantano entered the race.  The GOP had already started backing 2008 nominee Will Breazeale again in 2010 when Pantano entered the race.  Republicans instantly recognized Pantano's strength, and several even negated their endorsement of Breazeale to support him.  McIntyre is also being hurt by liberal Democrats who are taking part in a boycott of his campaign in protest of his vote against Obamacare.  Started by students at UNC-Wilmington, the boycott is refusing to volunteer for his campaign and promising to stay home on Election Day.  This angst from the left, coupled with the fact that Pantano has proven to be an intelligent and inspiring campaigner, gives the GOP an opportunity to pick up this seat for the first time since the Civil War era.

    As for NC-11, Shuler has played a role in opening this race up.  Instead of settling in as a consistent Blue Dog who has high approval, even among Republicans, Shuler decided to be proactive.  His campaign ran a push poll in the district.  The pollster conducting the poll suggested that his GOP opponent Jeff Miller's business was failing because of recent losses and that he'd soon be closing down.  While Miller's business had a tough year due to recession, he had laid off no workers and had no intention to close.  Shuler's poll, designed to undermine Miller's candidacy, backfired instead when workers from Miller's business went to the local media, fearing they'd lose their jobs.  Shuler's campaign was forced to admit they had paid for the poll and were only making assumptions about Miller's business, not working from fact.  This instantly dropped Shuler's approval and removed him from any high ground that he hoped to hold over other endangered "corrupt" Democrats.  A poll was conducted the next week by Survey USA which showed that Shuler had fallen well below 50% and into a dead heat with Miller.

    Two other districts, NC-2 and NC-4, have recently become competitive as well.  These were districts where Republicans made half their 1994 gains in North Carolina, but both went back to Democrats two years later.  In 2000, Democrats had control of redistricting in the state and made both districts slightly safer for Democrats.  Republicans haven't really come close to taking either since.  This meant that the NRCC focused no time on candidate development in either district in 2010.  Both races started out with a GOP field of 2008 nominees and a handful of political unknowns.

    In NC-2, Renee Ellmers managed a decisive enough victory in the GOP Primary to avoid a run-off.  Ellmers, a political newcomer, is a nurse, wife of a doctor and mother.  She was active in grassroots activity against Obamacare and was the strongest candidate in the 2010 GOP field.  However, Etheridge has displayed an ability to hold onto this R+2 district.  His connections here provide him with friends from both parties, and he seemed safe for re-election.  This is likely why he felt comfortable voting for Obamacare this past spring.  But that was the first chink in his armor, and his poll numbers fell below 50%.  Then came his angry tirade [caught on YouTube].  This severely eroded his middle class support in the district, especially among women.  Ellmers suddenly looked like the perfect candidate to challenge this bloated lifetime politician and his entitlement mentality.  This race is far from an easy GOP gain, but recent polling and Etheridge's own actions show a him to be very vulnerable in 2010.

    Finally, there's NC-4, rated PVI D+8 by Charlie Cook. Incumbent Democrat David Price should be a shoo-in for re-election, but his support of Obamacare and every other bill pushed by the White House has cost him support among many middle-class Democrats who see Obama's economic policies as an utter failure.  Then there's 2008 nominee BJ Lawson.  He started campaigning for 2010 the day after his 2008 loss.  In a 4-way GOP primary, which included a strong challenge from Frank Roche, Lawson managed to win solidly enough to avoid a run-off.  It's rare that a candidate who lost by 26% returns to pose a stronger challenge to the incumbent two years later, but it's almost certain that BJ Lawson will do just that.

    With the Presidential elections the focus of 2008, Lawson was defined by Democrats as a computer company owner from Florida.  It went unnoticed that he was also a physician who had graduated from Duke University Medical School, located in the district, and has lived in North Carolina ever since.  This is now well-known and helped him have a strong media presence during the debate on Obamacare.  He published several well-informed and thoughtful op-ed pieces on the subject in local publications.  And considering Rep. Price is a UNC grad, many Duke students and alumni - both Republican and Democrat - have gotten behind Lawson's campaign this time around, hoping to finally have a "Blue Devil congressman."  NC-4 remains the toughest of the 6 CDs for the Republicans to win, but Price is certainly vulnerable.  If the "Republican wave" continues to rise while Obama's approval falls, Lawson certainly is capable of picking this seat up for the Republicans.

    The information in this post courtesy of
    Karl Raszewski, Political Media Strategist

    Filed under:  On the ground  House  North Carolina  NC House 

    posted by Scott Elliott at 11:08pm 08/09/10::
    Thursday, June 17, 2010
    NC CD-2: Flash polls puts Ellmers up over Etheridge
    The John W. Pope Civitas Institute just released a flash poll conducted by SurveyUSA after Bob Etheridge's taped blowup surfaced on YouTube.  The results are quite promising for the Republican challenger, Renee Ellmers - she has moved into a statistical tie with the Democratic incumbent.  39% of respondents say they plan to vote for her against just 38% preferring Etheridge.  This race is sure rise up the vulnerability charts and probably will end up shortly on my House race tracking list.

    Filed under:  Adopt-a-race, NC-2  House  North Carolina  NC House 

    posted by Scott Elliott at 3:24pm 06/17/10::
    Monday, June 14, 2010
    NC CD-2: We need to defeat this guy - updated2
    Last month, I interviewed Renee Ellmers.  She's the GOP nominee running against Democrat Bob Etheridge in North Carolina's 2nd District.  I'm a big fan of Ms. Ellmers and her stances on limited government and personal responsibility.  I'm rooting hard for her to defeat Mr. Etheridge and his lock step support of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi triumvirate.

    Apparently, though, it is more than his ideology that puts him at odds with me and most of his constituents.  A video on YouTube reveals that he also harbors an elitest abrasive streak.  You really need to watch this clip of the congressman's interaction with students on a Washington DC sidewalk.  We can do better than that.  We need to defeat Bob Etheridge.

    Update:  You can help elect Renee by clicking here and contributing what you can.

    Update2:  John Hawkins at Right Wing News has Renee's press release in response to Etheridge's actions.

    Filed under:  Adopt-a-race, NC-2  The Democratic Party  House  North Carolina  NC House 

    posted by Scott Elliott at 3:31pm 06/14/10::
    Tuesday, May 25, 2010
    Interview: Renee Ellmers, Republican nominee,
    North Carolina District 2
    I'm very excited about the opportunity I had to interview Republican Renee Ellmers. She is the GOP nominee challenging incumbent Democrat Bob Etheridge in North Carolina's 2nd District. While some would call her a longshot to win here, this is exactly the kind of race that can be won if the right kind of Republican wave makes political landfall on November 2.

    EP:  Earlier this year, Club for Growth released their scorecard for 2009 which measures fiscal responsibility among lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  Your opponent, Bob Etheridge achieved a 6% score.  If elected, how important would it be for you to rate higher on that scale and how would your fiscal policy decisions differ from Mr. Etheridge?

    Ms. Ellmers:  Well, if I don’t score higher than 6%, I’ll give up and come home.  My philosophy is conservative and "Fiscal Conservatism" is more than just a label to me.  Congressman Etheridge refers to himself as a "Fiscally Conservative Democrat," but I’ve yet to see that reflected in his voting record.  My goal will be to decrease spending, lower taxes (to stimulate job growth in the short-term), and then work toward comprehensive tax reform such as the Fair Tax.  These policies – plus decreasing regulations on small businesses – will create jobs.

    EP:  You are a nurse by vocation and your husband is a doctor.  Talk for a moment about how you believe the health care bill passed by Congress will affect American families in general and health care providers, like you and your husband, specifically.

    Ms. Ellmers:  Let me start out by saying that Nancy Pelosi and company forcing the healthcare bill through Congress may be the most detrimental piece of legislation to affect our country ever.  If elected I am going to work tirelessly to defund, dismantle and eventually repeal the bill.

    American families and businesses will be affected by Obama-care starting January 1, 2011, when Obama-care tax increases start.  All citizens will be affected with an increase to the national debt.

    Also, I am sad to say that the passage of the healthcare bill has already had a negative effect on physician practices.  In our area of North Carolina we have seen one outstanding specialist retire early; a bright, young primary care physician relocate; multiple practices have experienced drops in volume and revenue; and a few have sent out notifications to patients that they will no longer be taking Medicare.

    The long and the short of it is if these trends continue there will be irreparable harm to the quality of healthcare in America.

    EP:  That's why I believe we need folks like you in Washington - and the sooner the better!  Let's move to another hot button issue.  The immigration law passed recently in Arizona has caused quite an uproar across the nation.  It has been interesting to me to hear the mischaracterizations of the law among Democrats who, in many cases, haven't even read it.  What do you think this says about the attitude of Democratic leadership toward the issue of illegal immigration?

    Ms. Ellmers:  I think the Democrats best illustrated their attitudes about illegal immigration when they all stood up in Congress to applaud Mexican President Calderon when he stated that he was against the Arizona immigration bill.  Who's country do they represent?

    I support Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.  I think she has shown rare courage.  And the kind of leadership we have not seen in a long time.  The federal government has not enforced the immigration laws – literally leaving Arizona no choice but to pass and enforce their own, which states have the right to do under the 10th Amendment.  But I think the Obama administration will continue to perpetuate distortions in the hope that they can intimidate Arizona into backing off.

    EP:  Judging from the things I've heard from Governor Brewer, I don't see that happening.  Now, few would argue that illegal immigration is a national security concern.  Along those same lines, would you discuss your impressions of President Obama's foreign policy as it relates to radical Islamic terrorism?  How would you advise the Obama administration to approach the issue of keeping Americans safe against this ongoing threat?

    Ms. Ellmers:  The first step is simple:  President Obama has to recognize – and tell the American people – he understands radical Islamic terrorism does exist.  He also has to understand that our country is great because of our American exceptionalism – and not arrogance.  His repeated apologetic remarks regarding America to other nations, both ally and enemy, must end and be replaced with a message of strength.  I would also advise President Obama to step-up support for our military and discuss military strategies focused on success rather than exit dates.

    EP:  Sounds like the right strategy to me!  Ok, let's talk a little about the upcoming elections.  Tuesday night, we watched Rand Paul, an open and enthusiastic voice of the Tea Party movement, win by a huge margin over an establishment Republican in the Senate primary in Kentucky.  How do you view the Tea Party movement and what do you expect its impact in November will be?

    Ms. Ellmers:  I am a big fan of the Tea Party movement.  In fact, it was the Tea Party and Healthcare rallies that got me motivated to start speaking out.  Which led to my running for Congress.  I attended Tea Parties here in the Raleigh area, and my husband and I got involved with Americans for Prosperity's "Hands Off My Heathcare" Tour.

    I think the Tea Party will have a significant effect on the November elections.  If it doesn’t we’re in trouble.

    EP:  During the 1994 Republican surge that won over fifty seats in the House, Fred Heineman won against Democrat David Price over in the 4th district in an upset no one saw coming.  Right now, your race with Etheridge is not on the national radar.  Do you see similarities between this year's political climate and 1994?

    Ms. Ellmers:  I do.  The 1994 election was voters saying no to Clinton’s march to the left after being elected in 1992.  Obama has gone much further left than even Clinton.  A lot of my district is rural, and small town voters – in both parties – are upset about the direction of the country.  My race is not on the national radar because we just finished the Primary and because it’s standard political wisdom incumbents like Congressman Etheridge are tough to unseat.  But 1994 showed that can be wrong and this election in November could be 1994 on Steroids!  The American people have shown over the last year that they have had ENOUGH politics as usual and want to STOP the direction our great country is headed in under Obama and Pelosi.

    EP:  1994 on steroids - I like that.  Ok, in conclusion, let me open the floor for you to take a moment to share a bit of what you want voters of the 2nd District to know about you and why you are the right person to represent them in Congress next year.

    Ms. Ellmers:  I am a nurse, wife and a mom. I believe that we are "...One Nation Under God..." and that our Constitution was divinely inspired and is as relevant today as it was when it was written by our Founding Fathers.

    Like every person in the 2nd District who has watched our president "fundamentally transform" our great country, I am concerned for our children’s – my son’s – future.  I am not a politician, have never wanted to be and hope I never will be.  But I am deeply concerned, and I will not stand by and watch my son's future sacrificed at the altar of "social justice" through a series of manipulations masked as "reforms" for the end purpose of mass redistribution of wealth.

    My personal beliefs are simple:  Less government; lower taxes; strong national defense.  I am a fiscal and social conservative.  I believe that prosperity and success come from each of us when we work hard to achieve, not from a government handout.

    In Washington, my opponent Congressman Bob Etheridge votes with Nancy Pelosi 97% of the time and has shown that he will continue to do so despite what the citizens of District 2 think.  He voted for the Healthcare Bill, Cap and Trade, Death Tax, Stimulus, TARP and is a proponent of Card Check.  I have spoken to thousands of voters who have told me "Bob Etheridge has sold us out."  And I agree.  I wouldn’t be a candidate for Congress if I didn’t.

    EP:  Amen to that!  Ms. Ellmers, thank you so much for taking the time for this interview.  I for one - and by no means the only one - am rooting for you to represent North Carolinians in the 2nd district in Congress come next January.  Best to you and your family.

    Ms. Ellmers:  Thank you, Scott, for your thoughtful questions and your support.  I am grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and vision for our great country and look forward to the months ahead.

    Please click here for a video message from Ms. Ellmers.  And then visit her website to offer your support.

    Filed under:  House  North Carolina  NC House  EP Interviews 

    posted by Scott Elliott at 10:24pm 05/25/10::
    Wednesday, May 5, 2010
    North Carolina primary results
    North Carolina held primaries yesterday.  The winners of the congressional contests are listed below.  Coincidentally, both the Senate race and the race in House District 8 will need a primary runoff to determine the nominees.  These are the only two races listed on my tracking list at the present time.  As a result, I will begin race tracking officially after the June 22 primary runoffs.  You can keep up with all the polling and projection information throughout the election season on the North Carolina state page.
      Democratic Primary

    Republican Primary
    Richard Burr

    District 1
      Democratic Primary
    G.K. Butterfield - inc

    Republican Primary
    Ashley Woolard

    District 2
      Democratic Primary

    Republican Primary
    Renee Ellmers

    District 3
      Democratic Primary

    Republican Primary
    Walter Jones - inc

    District 4
      Democratic Primary

    Republican Primary
    William Lawson

    District 5
      Democratic Primary

    Republican Primary
    Virginia Foxx - inc

    District 6
      Democratic Primary

    Republican Primary
    Howard Coble - inc

    District 7
      Democratic Primary

    Republican Primary
    Ilario Pantano

    District 8
      Democratic Primary
    Larry Kissell

    Republican Primary

    District 10
      Democratic Primary
    Jeff Gregory

    Republican Primary
    Patrick McHenry - inc

    District 11
      Democratic Primary
    Heath Shuler - inc

    Republican Primary
    Jeff Miller

    District 12
      Democratic Primary

    Republican Primary

    District 13
      Democratic Primary

    Republican Primary

    As a local boy here, I've caught wind of some interesting discussion about several of the presumably "safe" Democratis districts in the Tarheel State.  Nothing to move things yet.  Just keep an eye on districts 3, 4 and 13.  Don't be surprised to see them move into the possibly competitive category before November.

    Filed under:  North Carolina  NC Senate  NC House 

    posted by Scott Elliott at 12:36pm 05/05/10::
    Wednesday, April 7, 2010
    Fifty state tour - North Carolina preview
    The Tarheel State was one of just two states that Election Projection missed in the 2008 presidential election.  It was also the second closest race in the nation in terms of percentage margin.  After voting comfortably for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, North Carolinians, yours truly excepted, gave President Obama its 15 electoral votes in 2008.  The state is sure to be a battleground in 2 years when Obama seeks re-election.  This year, it features a couple of mildly competitive congressional races, one in the Senate, one in the House.

    Senate:  First-term Republican Richard Burr beat out Clintonista Erskine Bowles in 2004 to take over this seat held by failed presidential hopeful and recent tabloid staple, John Edwards.  This year he faces the dreaded incumbent curse.  While Jessie Helms and, before him, B. Everette Jordan held North Carolina's other Senate seat for nearly half a century until Helms' retirement in 2002, senators holding this seat have faced much less friendly outcomes.  Since Sam Ervin's last successful re-election in 1968, no senator has been able to get re-elected here.  This year, it is Burr's turn to try to break the spell.  Early polls show him leading the top three Democratic challengers, but the strength of his numbers varies greatly depending on whom is conducting the poll.  In General, Burr has trouble cracking the 50% mark in most surveys.  That's usually not a good sign for an incumbent.  This race seems eerily similar to Elizabeth Dole's re-election run in 2008.  Leading for most of the campaign, she faltered at the end and lost to Democratic nominee Kay Hagan by a solid margin on Election Day.  One thing Burr won't have to face, however, that certainly handicapped Dole is a political headwind.  In fact, the winds will be blowing in his favor, a factor that lends him less vulnerability.  Among the Democratic candidates, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is the front runner and the most formidable general election opponent for Burr.  That said, the tailwind to which I alluded makes me feel much better about Burr's chances in November.  This race won't be a rout, but it should be a Mod GOP Hold for Burr.

    House District 8:  This district saw two very close, very entertaining battles the last two cycles.  In 2006, GOP incumbent Robin Hayes narrowly beat an unknown teacher named Larry Kissell.  Two years later, Kissell took another shot at the sometimes unpopular Hayes.  The second time proved the charm, and Kissell earned a spot in the large Democratic freshman class of 2009.  Now he faces re-election without the help of a national Democratic wave in this Republican-leaning district.  Uh oh for him, right?  Well, not so much, it appears.  The front runner in the GOP field, at least in a financial sense, is a character named Tim D'Annunzio.  Charlie Cook's website has this to say about him.  "GOP strategists are horrified by the prospect that Tim D'Annunzio, a bombastic former Army paratrooper who built a personal fortune selling lightweight body armor to the military following 9-11, could spend his way to the GOP nomination in a May 4 primary.  D'Annunzio sports hefty personal baggage and recently hosted a "Machine Gun Social" fundraiser for his campaign. On his personal blog called "Christ's War," D'Annunzio refers to President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Kissell as "Liberal Left God Haters." Yikes!  Until the nomination is settled, there's a chance Kissell might face a viable challenger.  Therefore, this race is currently on the hotly-contested list.  It's projected as a Mod DEM Hold at present.  If D'Annunzio wins the nomination and turns out to be as repulsive as evidence indicates, tracking on this race will likely be discontinued.

    Check out the North Carolina state page for the rest of the story.

    Next stop:  North Dakota

    Filed under:  North Carolina  NC Senate  NC House 

    posted by Scott Elliott at 11:21pm 04/07/10::

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