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Bowles and Gantt record anti-amendment robo messages

Former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt and Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton, recorded robocalls with anti-amendment messages that voters will hear starting today.

They join Clinton, who already has a robo message on your voicemail.
The amendment would ban same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Here's Bowles, saying the amendment is bad for business.

 

 

Here's Gantt, saying it will take away health insurance from children and could take away domestic violence protections.

 

Richard Vinroot, Harvey Gantt appear in video against marriage referendum

Two former Charlotte mayors -- Republican Richard Vinroot and Democrat Harvey Gantt -- are appearing in a new Web video urging voters to cast ballots against the marriage amendment.

The so-called "Amendment 1" (not it's official name) would ban gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships. Vinroot's opposition to the constitutional amendment made headlines earlier this year -- and his appearance in a video produced by the Coalition to Protect All N.C. Families is an even bigger step.

Convention comittees: a who's who of Democratic politics

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers will serve as co-chairs of the Host Committee of the 2012 Democratic Convention it was announced this morning.

Gov. Bev Perdue and Sen. Kay will serve as honorary co-chairs. Former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt will serve as chair of the steering committee and former Gov. Jim Hunt will serve as honorary steering committee chair

The committees will help serve as the community's voice in planning the convention

“This bipartisan group of leaders, some from within and some outside of Charlotte, will ensure that the convention planning process connects to the Carolinas and beyond,” Foxx said.

The host committee members include Reps Kelly Alexander and Martha Alexander, former state party chair Barbara Allen, former Judge John Arrowood, schools superintendent June Atkinson, Michael Barnes, Tim Belk, former university system president Erskine Bowles, Congressman G.K Butterfield, Concetta Caliendo, Rep. Becky Carney, Nancy Carter,  Dumont Clarke, former Congresswoman Eva Clayton, Sen. Dan Clodfelter, South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, Harold Cogdell, Warren Cooksey, Pat Cotham, Rep. Tricia Cotham, Jeanette Council, state treasurer Janet Cowell, Raleigh businessman John Crumpler, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, Sen. Charlie Dannnelly, Donald Davis,  Aisha Dew, George Dunlap, Rep. Beverly Earle, Olma Echeverria, Doug Echols, former Ambassador Mark Erwin, former Congressman Bob Etheridge, Raleigh public relations executive Ken Eudy, Democratic consultant Scott Falmlen,
Also on the committee are Carol Fowler, Dale Frederiksen, former Chief Justice Henry Frye, state insurance commissioner Wyane Goodwin, , Jeffrey Graham, Sen. Malcolm Graham, former Rep. Parks Helms, Eliza Hernandez, David Howard, Yvonne Johnson, Larry Kernea, Patsy Kinse, Congressman Larry Kissell, Vilma Leake,Steve Lerner, Georgia Lewis, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, former state Democratic chairwoman Betty Ray McCain, Congressman Mike McIntyre, John McNeill, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, Congressman Brad Miller, James Mitchell, Rodney Moore, Cornelia Olive, Scott Padgett, Robert Page, state Democratic chairman David Parker, Cyndee Patterson, Edwin Peacock, Democratic Congressman David Price, Betty Chafin Rash , Democratic Congressman Health Shuler, Congressman John Spratt, former Raleigh City Councilman Brad Thompson, Democratic National Committeeman Ed Turlington, John Verdejo, former party executive director Everett Ward, Joan Washington, Congressman Mel Watt, state auditor Beth Wood, Major General Cornell Wilson Jr. (Ret)

The steering committee members include state AFL-CIO president James Andrews, Dianne Bailey,  Shannon Binns, Crandall Bowles, Jason Burgess, Brett Carter, Gabi Culpepper,  Marni Eisner, Frank Emory, Mitchell Gold, Cameron Harris, Landra Johnson, Clifford Jones, Michael Jones, Cynthia Marshall,  Michael Marsicano, state Rep. D.G. Martin, Angeles Ortega-Moore, Will Miller, Andrew Plepler, Karen Popp,  Wilhelmenia Rembert, Jennifer Watson Roberts, Jim Rogers, Rabbi Judy Schindler, Stoney Sellars, Robert Stolz, Marion Sullivan, Mike Todd, and former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot.

There are several Republicans, like Vinroot, serving on the two committees.
 

Lewis ad recalls Gantt-Helms races

The airwaves of Eastern North Carolina are once again filled with the voices of Harvey Gantt and Jesse Helms — a throwback to the 1990s.

Democratic Senate candidate Ken Lewis this week began airing a radio ad featuring an endorsement by Gantt, a former Charlotte mayor who ran competitive races against Helms in 1990 and 1996.

The radio ad begins with a brief snippet of of Helms' voice before facing to the announcer, Rob Christensen reports.

"Harvey Gantt stood up to Jesse Helms and changed North Carolina. Today Harvey Gantt stands up for North Carolina again supporting Ken Lewis for the U.S. Senate. Ken Lewis is the candidate to finish the job we started and bring the changes we need home to North Carolina."

The ad than features Gantt's voice: "North Carolina needs this generation of leaders – people like Ken Lewis who care about the problems of average working families in this state."

The Helms-Gantt races attracted national attention, where it was portrayed as an Old South/New South Showdown. Helms opposed nearly every piece of civil rights legislation, while Gantt was seeking to become the first African-American senator elected from the South in modern times.

UPDATE: The Lewis radio ad featuring former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt is running in all the major media markets as well as Eastern North Carolina.


Ken Lewis radio ad.

Lewis picks up Durham committee endorsement

Democratic Senate candidate Ken Lewis picked up the endorsement of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People on Sunday night.

Lewis told more than 100 people gathered in Ebenezer Baptist Church, that he was following in the footsteps of two-time Senate candidate Harvey Gantt, who was the Democratic nominee in 1990 and 1996. But he said this time, Lewis said, the results would be different, Rob Christensen reports.

“We have an opportunity to finish what we started in 1990,” said Lewis, a Chapel Hill resident with a law practice in Durham.

Lewis also announced the endorsement of former Congresswoman Eva Clayton of Warren County, the state's first and only black congresswoman.

"Ken Lewis will provide the kind of leadership that our country desperately needs right now," Clayton said in a statement. "He represents hope and opportunity for communities too long shut out of the decision-making process in Washington D.C. His election will be as important to the single mother struggling to make ends meet in Raleigh, as it will be to the small farmer trying to save his land in Warren County."

Cunningham, Lewis pick up endorsements

It's official. The N.C. Association of Educators has backed Cal Cunningham and former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt is backing Ken Lewis.

The NCAE announced that 83 percent of its membership voted to ratify the endorsement recommendation of its government relations committee, Rob Christensen reports.

"Cal Cunningham is clearly the candidate who will fight for public education in North Carolina as a U.S. Senator," said Sheri Strickland, NCAE president. The committee had recommended backing Cunningham in the May 4th primary by an 18-1 vote.

Meanwhile, Gantt, the two-time Senate Democratic nominee, backed Lewis.

“I told Ken, to show me a campaign that can win not just in May but in November and I would get behind that campaign 100 percent,” Gantt said in a statement. “Today, Ken Lewis has proven that he can mount such a campaign and finish the job we started two decades ago.”

Gantt to endorse Lewis for Senate

Former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt will endorse Democratic Senate candidate Ken Lewis Wednesday, joining his neighbor U.S. Rep. Mel Watt in backing the Chapel Hill lawyer.

Gantt, who twice lost U.S. Senate bids to Republican Sen. Jesse Helms, plans to announce the endorsement in his Tryon Street architectural office, reports Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer.
 
The endorsement by one of Charlotte's most prominent African Americans will come three days after Charlotte's Black Political Caucus endorsed one of Lewis' rivals, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.

Lewis also has won the endorsement of U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield.
 
UPDATE: Post corrects the time of the endorsement. 

Watt endorses Lewis for U.S. Senate

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mel Watt has endorsed Ken Lewis for U.S. Senate.

"My friendship with Ken Lewis has afforded me a close up and personal opportunity to observe Ken's intellect, his values, his ability to communicate, the way he thinks and his commitment to things that are important to me, and things that I have found to be important to the people I represent," Watt said in a news release announcing the endorsement.

"Ken Lewis will bring new and diverse ideas and perspectives to public discussions, something that's sorely needed in the public discourse and something that's sorely needed in the United States Senate. The fact that Ken Lewis has not served in political office is, in my view, a benefit and not a shortcoming."

Watt, a Charlotte Democrat, was the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and was campaign manager for Harvey Gantt's 1990 U.S. Senate campaign. The endorsement is the third for Lewis from major black political figures in the state. Lewis had previously received the endorsements of Democratic U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Henry Frye.

"Mel has been at the forefront of the issues most important to both his district and the state of North Carolina," Lewis said in a news release. "From advocating for affordable housing and responsible lending to opposing the Iraq War, Mel has repeatedly demonstrated his remarkable leadership ability."

Marshall's team assembled

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall has assembled a veteran team of political consultants to help her in her bid for the U.S. Senate.

Her pollster is Celinda Lake of Washington, who has worked for candidates ranging from former President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Harvey Gantt's 1996 Senate campaign, Rob Christensen reports. Lake, who is regarded as expert in framing in issues for women, also worked for Marshall's unsuccessful 2002 Senate campaign.

Her media consultant is Doc Sweitzer of Philadelphia, whose clients have included Al Gore' 1988 presidential campaign and New Jersey Governor Jim Florio's race. He has extensive experience in working for North Carolina Democrats including state Treasurer Richard Moore and Congressmen Robin Britt, Bill Hefner, Martin Lancaster, Brad Miller and Steve Neal.

Marshall's general consultant is Thomas Mills of Chapel Hill, who has worked for the Kerry-Edwards campaign, for Congressman Larry Kissell and Eva Clayton and Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy among other candidates.

Marshall is one of two Democrats who have announced for the seat held by Republican Sen. Richard Burr. Lawyer Kenneth Lewis has also announced his candidacy.

More tea leaves on the Senate race

The Senate race is still wide open.

Two weeks after expected frontrunner Roy Cooper declined to run, anyone could conceivably announce a campaign and go on to win the nomination.

Still, the field has narrowed a bit. Here's a rundown:

TOP PROSPECTS: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee still prefers a name-brand candidate. To that end, they're putting pressure locally and in D.C. on their preferred candidate, U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler of Waynesville. Rep. Mike McIntyre of Lumberton is also interested.

SECOND TIER: Iraq war vet Cal Cunningham and Durham lawyer Kenneth Lewis continue to test the waters with speeches before Democratic meetings and a Facebook group (for Cunningham) among other things. State Sen. Malcolm Graham and Dan Blue are dropping hints as well.

BLACK VOTERS: After Barack Obama's 2008 wins in North Carolina, black voters are excited about their 2010 prospects. Graham, Lewis or Blue could be the next hope to take up the mantle of two-time candidate Harvey Gantt. McIntyre, who has a number of black voters in his district, could also do well within the community.

LIBERAL VOTERS: By some accounts, Democratic primary voters in North Carolina are more liberal than they've been in the past. While Shuler or McIntyre would do well in a general election matchup with the conservative Sen. Richard Burr, they may have a tougher road in a primary fight with Cunningham, Lewis, Graham or Blue, who are more liberal.

The conventional wisdom right now is that Shuler is the establishment favorite and Cunningham the best of the dark horse candidates. A lot may depend on how well the various candidates do at fundraising.

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