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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Post-North Carolina primary results: Eric Smith comes in 2nd (and about some other races)

Lisa and I had an unusual perspective from which to watch the returns of yesterday's North Carolina primary election: since I've been treasurer for Eric H. Smith's campaign for statewide Superintendent of Public Instruction, we spent the evening at "campaign headquarters". That being Eric's house.

We had a very fun time! In addition to getting to play with Eric's eighteen-month old son there was also good food courtesy of Eric's wonderful wife Kelly. We had their high-def television tuned to one of the regional stations while Eric's computer fed us constant returns from the North Carolina Board of Elections website.

When all was said and done, Eric came in 2nd in the Republican primary for Superintendent of Public Instruction, with 25% of the votes cast. Richard Morgan will go on to the general election in November with 51% of the votes.

So are we disappointed? If we were, I didn't sense it by the time we left Eric's house last night. He did great in spite of some things, and a number of well-wishers have passed along word that they're glad he gave it this shot.

Yes, it's possible to not win an election and still feel very proud of one's self for running. I found that out a year and a half ago on the night of the 2006 election, when I didn't win a seat on the local school board after my own campaign. When you see that amount of people who've still heard your message and agreed with what you're saying, it's hard to feel disappointed. None of this has ever been about winning any single election: it's about engaging in a process, and staying consistent with your principles throughout that process. "Conventional wisdom" would demand that people in our position were "losers" after tonight. But people who hold to that were never out to win for the right reasons anyway.

I think Eric will run again for something. What that is, I don't know to speculate right now. But he probably will and he will no doubt do better next time. If he does ever run, I've already told him that he can expect my support.

Everyone already knows that Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in the Democrat primary for President here. Doesn't really matter to me one way or the other. Nor does it that John McCain won the Republican primary for President. I still got to vote for Ron Paul, and I'm more than content with having done so.

Bev Perdue won the Democrat primary for Governor and Pat McCrory won the Republican primary. I'm still not voting for Perdue because of her previous negative ads (and I haven't heard that she's resolved to not run any more for the general election either). So far as I know, McCrory has been consistently upbeat and positive in his campaign and if he maintains that, he'll certainly keep my respect enough for me to strongly consider giving him my vote in November.

In regards to the Rockingham County Sales Tax Increase: this was one of the bigger surprises of the evening, considering that in most other places in the region various tax increases and bond referendums were approved. Instead the proposed 1/4th percent sales tax increase in Rockingham County went down in flames 69% to 31%.

I don't mind saying now that I did not vote for this tax increase, but I did not vote against it either. It was supposed to be used to fund the construction of new schools in Rockingham County... which is an extremely dire need to be sure. Believe me, you won't find very many people who believe more in new school construction here than I am. The problem though is that this was a non-binding resolution: the sales tax would go up but there was no guarantee that the money would be used for new school construction at all! It wasn't even mentioned on the ballot: just that this was for a sales tax increase. It would be money that could go for anything at all and folks, let's be real here: Rockingham County government is not respected for its fiscal restraint. There is waste everywhere, and I couldn't vote for this knowing that a tax increase would just be feeding the beast.

So I did not vote one way or another for this measure. If and when it ever gets put on the ballot again, in a way that spells out in no uncertain terms that this would be for new school construction, then I'll absolutely support it. But this one was just too vague for me to feel anything but likewise ambiguous about it.

There's one more thing that I'll comment on before turning in, although it wasn't something that I got to vote on personally. This was an issue that the citizens of Mayodan in the western part of the county had on their ballot: the matter of whether to approve "liquor by the drink" within Mayodan's corporate limits...

The women's auxiliary of West Side Baptist Church in Mayodan, North Carolina vent their displeasure at the prospect of liquor by the drink in this undated file photo

(Okay, so that's not the "womens auxiliary" of West Side Baptist Church... but the photo was too funny not to use! Thanks to my friend Bmovies for finding it :-)

The Mayodan mixed drinks referendum passed 59% to 41%. I thought it was worth mentioning because West Side Baptist Church fought against this measure by distributing a flier throughout the community that was a huge pack of lies. This church (pastored by Paul Sisk) was laying the blame for pretty much everything at the feet of alcohol. It was a shrill and petty screed that had no factual basis, and I can't help but think that going about it this way hurt whatever testimony that West Side Baptist was supposed to have rather than build it up. Paul Sisk and his church weren't fighting against liquor by the drink because it was the "Christian" thing to do. They were fighting it because they wanted to feel like they could throw their weight around... which too many Christians do already and for reasons that have nothing to do with giving glory to God.

But tonight, the people of Mayodan approved mixed drinks within city limits. No doubt that West Side Baptist's tactics backfired big-time. I hope that other churches might take the hint: that if they don't engage in this sort of thing with the right motive to begin with, that God cannot bless their efforts. They were fighting this more for themselves than for His sake. Doesn't surprise me at all that their opposition was defeated.

I do feel obliged to comment that there was a heavier than usual turnout at the polls throughout Rockingham County yesterday. My cousin, a police officer with the City of Reidsville, told me that there had already been a lot more people than he's used to seeing who came to vote when I cast my ballot that morning. Whatever the reason was, and however anyone felt about their vote, if they were sincere in their reasons then I'm delighted to see such strong interest in an election.

It's also worth noting that to the best of my knowledge, no political candidates were caught stealing campaign signs during this election. I'm especially glad for that because it means that I probably won't have to worry about getting deposed in a lawsuit again anytime soon.

Okay, the campaign treasurer is turning in now. G'night!