Thursday, March 31, 2011

And Still They Come.... A Look at Western North Carolina

We saw them come for our people last year in record numbers. Formerly "safe Democrats" in "safe districts" - all too many of them got Republican or Tea Party challengers across the south for the first time in a long time. And too many of our folks lost in 2010.

While the opposite side continues to ride the Republican momentum into 2011, many of our Democratic mayors, congressmen, council members and legislators are watching opponents line up against them simply because we have "D's" behind our names, and they want our seats. What few we have left, that is. Georgia Congressman John Barrow. Louisiana State Senator and head of the Democratic Senate Caucus Eric Lafleur. The list is long. Too long.

This week North Carolina Congressman Health Shuler (D-NC11th), a former NFL quarterback (Redskins, Saints, etc) -- ((he played college ball for Tennessee, something I repeatedly try to forget)) became the most recent to draw official opposition.

Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell declared against Shuler this week - as an Independent. Republicans have already promised an R in the race.

What personally chaps my hide is that I remember Bothwell being a D. What personally made me laugh was the line in the opening graph of his campaign site: "All three of his cats think he’s a hero." I love cats, don't get me wrong. But it's not something you normally see as the opening selling point of an Independent candidate. Maybe somebody is polling cat ownership in North Carolina and not telling me?

Shuler is no political saint. He's a conservative D who has annoyed his fair share of party loyalists over his three terms, and my time in front of him has left me lukewarm. Give me a Larry Kissell over a Heath Shuler for NC Dems any day. But the point is this:

They used to only come after us in 41 percent Democratic performing districts. Or 43 percent Democratic performing districts. When they feel safe coming after Democratic incumbents in places like ASHEVILLE - the epicenter of southern hippiedom and liberalism and a highly-competitive organic honey industry, we've got a new discussion on our hands.

Maybe there are no "safe districts" in 2011. What then does that mean?

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