I thought Democrat Rich Nixon would fare better in his bid to represent Johnston County in the N.C. House of Representatives. I thought maybe his opponent, Republican Donna White, was vulnerable because she was part of a school board that enriched retired superintendent Ed Croom at the expense of Johnston County taxpayers.
Instead, Mr. Nixon captured just 42 percent of the vote on Nov. 8, and he carried just one of the 18 precincts that make up N.C. House District 26. (He tied in another.)
The Johnston County tax dollars that Ms. White helped heap on Dr. Croom might have played a small role in the race; other Republicans on the Nov. 8 ballot enjoyed wider margins of victory. Still, Ms. White captured 58 percent of the vote and 16 of 18 precincts. Also, Johnston voters reelected incumbent school board members Peggy Smith and Mike Wooten, two other architects of Dr. Croom’s generous pension. So the waste of tax dollars wasn’t a big deal with voters.
A few days after the election, I started looking for reasons for Mr. Nixon’s emphatic loss. I thought maybe money played a role. I can’t tell that it did. Mrs. White enjoyed more donations from her political party and from political action committees, but Mr. Nixon got more money, considerably more, from individuals.
Neither could see an advantage for Ms. White in how the two candidates spent those campaign contributions. That’s because the two spent the dollars in similar ways. If you live in House District 26, I’m sure you received their campaign mailers.
Mr. Nixon and I aren’t of the same political persuasion, but I found him to be a sincere and enthusiastic candidate. I’m not sure I could say the same for all Democrats appearing on the November ballot. Ultimately, I think Mr. Nixon lost because he’s a Democrat in a county where, it now appears, a Democrat cannot win a partisan race. On Nov. 8, no Democrat on the ballot in Johnston County beat a Republican. Some, like Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, won statewide, but none came out on top in Johnston.
From time to time, I have taken Johnston’s Democratic Party to task for failing to field challengers to Republicans in local races. Apparently, the state Democratic Party has given up on Johnston County too. In the latest campaign-finance reporting period, Ms. White reported $5,474.30 in contributions from the N.C. Republican Party. In the same period, Mr. Nixon received $712.58 from the N.C. Democratic Party.
Perhaps Ms. White knew that she couldn’t lose to a Democrat, not even one as smart, committed and likable as Mr. Nixon. Her campaign spending in the weeks leading up to the election included charitable contributions to such groups as Harbor Inc., the county’s shelter for victims of rape and domestic violence. A worried politician might have spent that money on a last-minute mailer.
I’m a Republican, so I’m OK with how most Nov. 8 races came out. But as I’ve said before, I think the Johnston County Republican Party is better when it has to defend its ideas against against a party with different policy proposals.
But that’s not the case in Johnston County, and I have no reason to believe it will be anytime soon.
Celebrities for Clinton
I think Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton made a mistake when she brought celebrities to North Carolina to campaign on her behalf.
Don’t get me wrong, I like comedic actor Will Ferrell, and I like some of the music of Jon Bon Jovi and Lady Gaga. Those were just three of the celebrities who campaigned for Mrs. Clinton in the Tar Heel state, and they helped draw crowds for the candidate.
But those celebrities have nothing in common with the average North Carolinian. Mr. Bon Jovi is worth an estimated $300 million; Lady Gaga is worth $225 million. Neither is wondering how to pay the mortgage while saving money for the kids’ college.
The celebrities who campaigned for Mrs. Clinton could entertain voters, but they couldn’t relate to them. And that made their visits to North Carolina of little use to Mrs Clinton.