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The Source: Something better than running for election

Better than running

Vernon Robinson hasn’t always had a lot of luck winning elections. But he’s doing pretty well trying to get somebody else elected.

BuzzFeed reports that the Winston-Salem Republican has made $236,000 directing the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, a super PAC pushing the 2016 candidacy of Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and best-selling author.

“Is Vernon making a lot of money?” PAC Chairman John Philip Sousa IV, a descendant of the famous composer, told BuzzFeed. “Yeah, he is. But I will tell you that Vernon works 24/7, and he does a good job for us. And therefore I think he’s worth it.”

Robinson says he works at all hours for the committee, sometimes writing emails in the middle of the night. He likes to point out that he oversees a fundraising operation that raised $9.6 million through September – $3 million more than the Ready for Hillary super PAC.

“When somebody says 24/7, I did not know what that means until I got this job,” he says.

Robinson, who has called himself the “black Jesse Helms,” has always had a flair for political theater. He once placed a 1-ton granite monument etched with the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Rights and his name, in the parking lot of Winston-Salem’s city hall.

When he ran for Congress against Democrat Brad Miller in 2006, he ran a TV ad on immigration with mariachi music in the background. “If Miller had his way,” a narrator said, “America would be nothing but one big fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals.”

Robinson says he just glanced at the BuzzFeed article.

“I just looked it it briefly,” he says, “and confirmed that John Sousa said I was worth every penny of it.” Jim Morrill

Democrat expects rebuff from Democrats

The design shows a night-time view of Charlotte’s skyline, with a spotlight aiming to the sky like a Bat-signal.

“Welcome to COTHAM City,” it reads. “ Pat Cotham for Mecklenburg County Commission Chair.”

Cotham doesn’t know who created it. But she appreciates the sentiment.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to have people care that much,” she says. “But I (tell people), ‘Don’t get your hopes up. It’s not likely to happen.’ ”

Cotham, a Democrat and former chair, led this month’s at-large ballot by more than 18,000 votes. But she doesn’t expect to win the post that traditionally has gone to the top vote-getter.

A year ago, the board’s other five Democrats, upset by her role in the firing of county manager Harry Jones, ousted Cotham in favor of fellow Democrat Trevor Fuller. She fully expects that to happen again when the new board meets Dec. 1.

“It’s ironic, because Democrats for the past two years have been complaining about voting rights,” she says. “I worry that it certainly fuels the apathetic attitude of people who say, ‘My vote doesn’t count.’ …

“We’re supposed to be the party of the people, and then the people spoke. (Fuller) came in third, and did not even win one precinct.”

More irony: Cotham is one of a handful of North Carolina Democrats elected to the party’s national committee. She chairs the Uptown Democratic Forum, and her daughter, Tricia, is a Democratic legislator.

Fuller could not be reached. Democrat Ella Scarborough, the second-place finisher, declined to comment. “I don’t have a dog in that fight,” she says.

Commissioner Dumont Clarke, who joined other Democrats in voting to depose Cotham last year, says he has yet to hear from her.

“I’m open to almost anything,” he says. “But part of the job of being a leader is to reach out to the people you want to support you. I haven’t heard from her. She needs to reach out to some of her fellow Democrats.” Jim Morrill

Jeter running for leadership post

When House Republicans vote Saturday on their new leaders, Rep. Charles Jeter hopes to be in the mix.

Jeter, a Huntersville Republican who just won a second term, is running for chairman of the Republican Conference, a leadership post that would put him in charge of his party’s election campaign.

He would succeed Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican who didn’t run for re-election. Victory would make Jeter Mecklenburg County’s highest ranking House lawmaker.

“That concept of the Great State of Mecklenburg exists up there,” he says, “and I think having someone from this delegation in leadership will make sure that the Charlotte voice is still heard.” Jim Morrill

Hagan won – the ad war

If it seemed like Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan controlled the airwaves in her campaign against Republican Thom Tillis, it’s because she did.

Hagan and her allies spent $37.5 million to run 63,900 TV ads in the state, according to an analysis of Kantar Media/CMAG data by the Center for Public Integrity.

Tillis and his backers spent $35.7 million to air 50,500 ads.

The sheer number of TV ads by both sides – 114,300 – dwarfed that of the next biggest spending Senate race. That contest in Georgia saw 75,300 ads. Jim Morrill

Rhodes led write-in candidates

Former lawmaker John Rhodes of Huntersville came within 1.4 million votes of Republican Thom Tillis in this month’s U.S. Senate election. But he led his fellow write-in candidates.

Rhodes got 602 votes – 140 of them from Mecklenburg – in his unsuccessful bid. Rhodes, who lost to Tillis in a 2006 N.C. House primary, had the support of some tea party activists unhappy with Tillis.

Among write-ins, he edged David Waddell (192 votes) and Barry Gurney (126). Waddell is a former Indian Trail councilman who this year wrote his council resignation letter in Klingon.

In other write-in news, Shawn Eckles got 2,369 votes against U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger. Other, unofficial write-ins got 8,219 votes against Pittenger, who won 93.9 percent of the vote in the 9th District. Jim Morrill