While labor made gains in North Carolina this year, big business got a little less organized.
But John Davis, the former head of N.C. FREE, said that doesn't mean business is any less powerful.
"Business still has the upper hand in this state," said Davis, now an independent consultant. "I think what you're seeing with labor is the beginnings of them becoming a serious player in North Carolina. They're a serious player at the state legislative level, but I think you're going to see them grow exponentially."
As head of N.C. FREE for 23 years, Davis said he didn't see labor spending begin in earnest here until the 2004 and 2006 elections, in part because of the growing role of so-called 527 groups, which can run independent political campaigns.
He cited SEIU's contributions to FairJudges.net in 2006 and to the Alliance for North Carolina this year as evidence of their growing role. While N.C. FREE is not around to represent business interests, he said groups like the N.C. Chamber may play a larger role, as will ad hoc groups like the one that opposed the transfer tax.
"I don't expect business to do anything but man up to labor," he said. "They have the resources to do battle politically, and they'll find some way to do it."