The state Democratic Party on Wednesday called for a boycott of stores owned by Raleigh businessman Art Pope to protest what it calls his "corporate takeover" of elections.
At a news conference at party headquarters, Andrew Whalen, the Democrats' executive director, said Pope's company, Variety Wholesalers Inc., had helped finance three independent committees in an effort to influence 20 legislative races in 48 counties.
"Pope's company, Variety Wholesalers, has directed hundreds of thousands of dollars - profits taken from hard-working North Carolinians who shop at his stores - to fund organizations that attack Democratic candidates," Whalen said.
He said Pope is "an ultra-right-wing political operative" pushing to dismantle an agenda that gives protections to working people and provides a safety net for people down on their luck.
The Democrats plan to list the names and locations of Pope-owned Roses, Maxway, Super Dollar, Value Mart and Super 10 Stores in North Carolina on the state party's website. The party also will send the boycott information in an e-mail to 50,000 Democrats.
Pope said he doubted the boycott would work.
"The Republicans believe we will prevail by having better qualified candidates and being right on the issues," Pope said Tuesday. "The conservative policy groups will continue to set forth proposals they think will improve the lives of North Carolina families.
"The Democratic Party, rather than engage in that debate, wants to threaten people with economic retaliation to shut them up," Pope added. "I will not be shut up."
Burr holds lead in polls
Democratic Senate candidate Elaine Marshall has narrowed the gap with Republican Sen. Richard Burr, but Burr maintains a comfortable lead, according to two new polls.
A survey by Public Policy Polling shows Burr leading Marshall 48 percent to 40 percent. Three weeks ago, the gap was 13 points. Libertarian candidate Michael Beitler was at 3 percent.
A WRAL News Poll also shows a narrowing gap, although it shows Burr with 53 percent, Marshall at 38 percent and Beitler at 5 percent.
The PPP survey found that while Marshall has picked up support among Democrats, Burr's backing remains steady. It also found that Burr holds a commanding 52-24 advantage among independents, suggesting his soft-edged ideological campaign is working.
Marshall has made gains at a time when she raised her profile by finally going on TV with her advertising campaign and appearing in three TV debates.
The PPP survey of 597 likely North Carolina voters was conducted Oct. 15-17 and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The WRAL survey by Survey USA polled 857 likely voters Friday through Monday. The survey had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
Fundraisers stay busy
With help from organized labor and its own candidates, the state Democratic Party has continued to outraise the state Republican Party, but the GOP has dramatically narrowed the gap from earlier elections, new reports show.
The Democratic Party has raised $5.7 million through mid-October, compared with $4.4 million for the GOP. But the Republican Party has raised twice as much as it had for the same period in 2008 and three times as much as in the last mid-term election year of 2006.
The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is almost $2 million shy of what it raised in 2008, and $1 million behind what it raised in 2006.
Both parties relied on wealthy donors and their own candidates. Both parties spent the money on election-related activities.
By staff writers Rob Christensen and Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer
rob.christensen@newsobser ver.com or 919-829-4532