In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama won the 15 electoral votes from the Old North State, but the popular vote was very tight. Obama only defeated Senator John McCain by less than 15,000 votes. The three top races on the ballot in NC that year were all won by Democrats, but the presidential ballot was the only thing that was so close.
With North Carolina poised to be an important swing state again this year and the Democratic National Convention set for Charlotte, things have picked up this week, and not in a way that’s helping the Democrats.
As I blogged about last weekend, Vice President Joe Biden either floated a trial balloon on gay marriage or put the President in a bad spot, depending on who you believe.
Then, on Tuesday, the voters of North Carolina voted easily to pass Amendment One, which bans gay marriage. African-American voters supported that amendment by a 2-1 margin. In the days following the vote, North Carolina residents were ridiculed and reviled as a bunch of ignorant hicks and bigots and the President ended up saying he does indeed support gay marriage while also giving himself wiggle room by saying he also thought states had the right to ban it (and his poll numbers are already suffering.) There were calls by some on the left to move the convention elsewhere, although that is going nowhere.
Of course, outgoing Gov. Bev Perdue – who was elected easily in 2008 when Obama took over but is so shaky now that she didn’t even run for re-election – is attacking not only residents of her own state but those of Mississippi:
“I think it’s wrong for North Carolina, clearly and simply,” the governor said. “People around the country are watching us and they’re really confused, to have been such a progressive, forward-thinking, economically driven state that invested in education and that stood up for the civil rights of people.
“Folks are saying what in the world is going on in North Carolina. We look like Mississippi.”
Mississippi’s Lt. Governor was quick to fire back:
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, criticized Perdue’s policies and the Tarheel state’s higher unemployment rate. Reeves even made a pitch to N.C. businesses to come to Mississippi if they wanted to work in a “lower-taxed, less regulated state.”
“Governor Perdue should know that her administration has a lot of work to do to make her state’s business climate ‘look like Mississippi,’ ” Reeves said in a statement.
Now, the convention is having financial problems that are forcing its organizers to go back on their promise not to take corporate contributions and hopes of Obama and Democrats of winning the state are also seemingly in dire straits.
Mitch Weiss of the AP wrote a story today calling the state a “political headache” for Democrats and ticked off many of the same reasons from above:
Once a bright spot for President Barack Obama, North Carolina is now more like a political migraine less than four months before Democrats open the party’s national convention in Charlotte.
The causes are plenty.
Labor unions, a core Democratic constituency, are up in arms. Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue isn’t running for re-election; Democrats say she was likely to lose. The state Democratic Party is in disarray over an explosive sexual harassment scandal. Voters recently approved amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage, a position that runs counter to Obama’s. And unemployment in the state remains persistently high.
Now traditional Democratic Party groups are threatening huge protests in part because they’re deeply uncomfortable that the convention is being held in one of the least union-friendly states. And thousands of Democrats across the country are calling for the convention to be relocated because of the gay-marriage vote.
The story goes onto discuss the union issues further while also pointing out the original desire by some to unveil a gay marriage plan at the convention this summer. The sexual harassment scandal involving a former NC Democratic Party official and a lower-level staffer is also detailed.