Here’s a different view of our feverishly contested U.S. Senate race from what you’ve seen on TV: Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis are good candidates.
I was reminded of this by one of my regular correspondents. Based on years of email (and occasional meetings in church), my correspondent is center-right politically. He’s a good analyst and realistic about politicians. He has experience in the public arena and is a political pragmatist. In this case, he used sarcasm to make his point.
“It is a shame that we must vote for the despicable people running for the Senate,” he wrote. “They are, if we are to believe the ads, guilty of multiple high crimes and misdemeanors, various crimes against humanity, and are generally classless people with dubious motivations and acts.”
Then he turned serious. Whoever wins, he wrote, “will honestly and forthrightly represent us in the Senate. Such a disconnect.”
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There is a disconnect between the ads and the candidates’ qualifications. Hagan and Tillis offer voters a good choice. Each has had a successful career in business and politics. That’s rarely true for both major candidates running in North Carolina for high office.
(I’m disregarding the reefer-smoking pizza delivery man running as a Libertarian. With $100 million being spent to tear down the Democrat and Republican, the Libertarians, with a better candidate, had a chance to win 10 percent of the vote and gain traction in North Carolina. Long before Sean Haugh talked about his use of marijuana, those chances went up in smoke.)
Hagan, who has a law degree, was a vice president in the estates and trust division and the private banking division at North Carolina National Bank, a predecessor of Bank of America, in Greensboro. She served 10 years in the state Senate, becoming a chair of the Appropriations Committee. She won her seat in the U.S. Senate six years ago. She’s a pro-business Democrat in the Jim Hunt mold.
Tillis worked for PriceWaterhouseCoopers and IBM and was a successful consultant who left a $500,000-a-year job to get deeply involved in politics. He was a town commissioner in Cornelius, outside Charlotte. He served two terms in the state House before being elected speaker, an unusually swift ascent, and has served two terms as speaker. He’s a pro-business Republican in the Charlotte Chamber mold.
Hagan and Tillis are in the mainstream of their parties. Each has attracted high-profile visitors to the state to campaign for him or her.
But it’s difficult for a pair of candidates to be viewed positively when so much money has been spent to portray them otherwise. That was reflected in a letter from Carson Park, a third-grade student at Vance Elementary School in Garner.
“Why aren’t you talking about ways you will help us?” Carson wrote to Hagan and Tillis. “All I hear in your ads are you saying mean things about each other.”
Carson asked the candidates to emulate what they learn at Vance: PROWL (Practice empathy, Respect everyone and everything, Only make safe choices, Work responsibly, and Love learning).
Carson said “seeing the ads on tv makes me sad and I don’t want to vote.”
Many adults feel the same way. Often voters feel as if they’re choosing between the lesser of two evils. Sometimes that’s true – when neither candidate has distinguished himself either before or during the campaign. Contrary to the TV ads (many of which are paid for by anonymous individuals), that’s not the case with Hagan and Tillis. Voters have a good choice.