Wednesday, April 21, 2010

North Carolina First and Challenges from the Left to Heath Shuler and Larry Kissell

Philip Rucker has a story in Monday's Washington Post (here) about a possible third party challenge to three North Carolina Democrats from the left!

Holy cow this is interesting: Tom Perriello could be saved by a third party challenge from the right splitting the 5th District's conservative vote, while North Carolinians could hand three seats to the Republicans because of discontent on the other end of the spectrum!

The Democrats are Larry Kissell, Heath Shuler, and Mike McIntyre, and they've raised liberal ire because of their votes against Obama's health care bill. Shuler is the former Redskins QB (he pre-dated the curse of Dan Snyder and was one of the original bad draft picks after Bobby Beathard left); notwithstanding his poor NFL career, my understanding is that he's been a pretty successful -- and moderate -- politician. Kissell is a former high school civics teacher, and he presents himself on his website (here) as one of the most moderate members of Congress.

Alas, moderation is not doing the trick for North Carolina First, the nascent third party which is receiving funding from the State Employees Association of North Carolina (they've got 55,000 members), which is a subsidiary of the Service Employees International Union.

431. Are there really 55,000 government employees in North Carolina? That seems like a lot, even if you include state and local employees.

According to Rucker, the people behind North Carolina First are serious about the potential challenge:
"It's not a fly-by-night kind of thing," said SEIU spokeswoman Lori Lodes. "We're making a very strong commitment to doing this. There is significant money behind it . . . There's not a ceiling to what we're willing to do."
Notwithstanding the enthusiasm, it sounds like there's a lot of work to do:
Establishing the new party will be difficult. The group must gather signatures from 85,000 registered voters by June 1 to qualify for the November ballot. Then it has one month to nominate candidates; organizers said they had not identified any.

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