I just finished reading this piece by Ed Cone, and I have to say I'm pretty impressed with his evaluation. Which is to say, I couldn't find anything definitive to crucify him on. :)
While I am concerned this race could hinge upon novelty (female or gay) as opposed to a substantive evaluation of probable performance by the Senatorial hopefuls, this observation:
No matter how the Democratic primary between Greensboro's Kay Hagan and investment banker Jim Neal plays out, the general election between the survivor and Elizabeth Dole will see a notable first: either a race featuring two female candidates or one involving North Carolina's first openly gay candidate for high office.
is going to be on the minds of many people in the coming months. Whether the focus of the discussion moves towards more substance or not is up to people like us as well as people like Ed Cone. And I think it would be healthy for all to accept this:
Hagan's move brought howls from bloggers at the liberal Blue NC site, who were convinced that Democratic Party leaders didn't want the openly gay Neal on the ticket. One prominent Democratic official, with solid progressive and gay-friendly credentials of his own, told me that some in the party do fear the possible fallout in other elections of having a homosexual candidate in the Senate race. It's a shame that kind of attitude still prevails in some places, and the issue says something about the ongoing tensions between progressives and the Democratic Party at both state and national levels.
as a reality and move on. Supporters of Neal (myself included) must begin to do what we knew would be necessary in the first place—expose to the voting public (as well as the Democratic Party itself) why Jim Neal would be the best public servant we could have in that Senate seat.
note to Ed: I appreciate your mentioning Blue NC in the editorial, but don't you think posting a link to this site would help give clarity to your piece? Of course you do. :)
Both Democrats are starting late on fund-raising in a race that may take $15 million to win. But Senate campaigns in North Carolina tend to draw national attention, and a candidate who looks like a contender might be able to use the Internet to tap a vast network of small donors -- something else new and historic about this campaign. The Net may also allow candidates to craft a legitimate 100-county strategy, letting them reach into corners of the state where their parties lack substantial organizations. The late start hurts online, too, with a lot of talent already tied up on other campaigns and a certain amount of time required to build a high-function network; the Democrats do have a Web-smart state chairman in Jerry Meek, who proved in 2006 his willingness to take the fight to traditional GOP strongholds.
Another reality that is inescapable: only a few months until the Primary, and less than a year until the General. As of right now, name recognition is a huge problem, and will not fix itself. It's time to go to work, people.