Revealed at last: N.C.’s shadowy left-wing network
According to the conservative Civitas Institute, they’re part of the “vast, shadowy network” that makes up “the radical liberal left in North Carolina.”
They’re named in the institute’s latest project, Mapping the Left, a list of 140 organizations and 1,800 individuals “working to enlarge state government and erode our freedoms.”
Just who are these radicals?
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
Well, Republicans such as former gubernatorial candidates Bob Orr and Chuck Neely and state Rep. Chuck McGrady. Even former Tar Heels coach Dean Smith, who sat on the board of an anti-death penalty group.
Then there’s former four-time Gov. Jim Hunt and his wife, Carolyn. Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter, former Mayor Harvey Gantt and former Mecklenburg commissioners Chair Jennifer Roberts made the list.
So did state Treasurer Janet Cowell and state Auditor Beth Wood. And business leaders such as former textile executive Crandall Bowles.
Most are on the boards of groups that the institute defines as having liberal agendas, such as the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the League of Women Voters and the Sierra Club. Or they’re associated with funding such groups.
That’s how The Foundation for the Carolinas (along with CEO Michael Marsicano), The Duke Energy Foundation and Food Lion Charitable Foundation got on the list. So did charitable foundations of the Bank of America, Wal-Mart and Best Buy.
“Mapping the Left was created to educate citizens and policy makers,” the website says. “It is a repository of vital information that exposes the largest funders and participants in today’s North Carolina political battles to public scrutiny.”
The map consists of a giant web of interconnecting lines and circles. Susan Myrick, an election policy analyst with Civitas, said the point is to show who runs, funds and works for the groups she claims makes up North Carolina’s left.
Are people on the list dangerous radicals?
“No, but they’re people with an agenda,” Myrick said. “Just like the right are people with an agenda. What makes the right different than the left? (The left) is so massive. …
“It’s easy for people to see the organizational network on the right because it’s so small. But when we turn a light on the left, they’re uncomfortable. I don’t get it. People should know who they are.”
Who they are are people like Orr, a former state Supreme Court Justice who later ran the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law which, like Civitas, is funded largely by the Pope Foundation. Orr made the list because he’s on the board of The Conservation Trust of North Carolina.
“I’m a strong believer in land conservation and historic preservation,” Orr says. “On the other hand, I’ve won four statewide elections as a Republican. I don’t think anybody over at Civitas has even run for office.”
Neely, a Raleigh attorney, was asked in an email how he felt being on the leftist list. He replied succinctly: “I have always suspected me.” Jim Morrill
Girl on a mission
Molly Barker is best known for starting Girls on the Run. But for the past couple of years she’s been involved with another effort: trying to fix American politics.
Barker has been on the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform, a group that includes three former senators and two former governors. She’s befriended many, including former Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine.
So it struck a chord when Barker heard President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech last week: “There are a lot of good people here, on both sides of the aisle,” the president said.
“And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for, arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision. Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns. Imagine if we did something different.”
So Barker wrote an open letter to Obama. Americans share his frustration, she said in the letter that’s made the rounds on social media.
“The results were just as you suggested,” she wrote. “We do not know each other anymore. Face to face encounters have become fewer. 24/7 news stations, our smart phones, technology, decreasing spheres of connectedness … we are a nation of stereotypes, sound bytes, labels and ideologies.”
She described her latest venture, called the Red Boot Coalition. It’s a program based on “curiosity, open-minds, humility and courage.” Coalition groups have sprouted in Chicago, Arizona and Minnesota.
She told Obama she’d be glad to sit down with him and explain the principles of the Red Boot effort.
“I can only imagine what I will be labeled in writing this letter to you!” she wrote. “Crazy! Idealistic! Unrealistically optimistic! And to the cynics and naysayers I shout joyfully and unabashedly, “Yes! Yes I am!” Jim Morrill
Democratic field grows
The field of candidates for N.C. Democratic Party chair is getting crowded, with two more hopefuls entering the contest last week.
The latest additions ran unsuccessfully for elected office in November. Tommy Davis of Moore County ran against incumbent state Sen. Jerry Tillman, garnering 29 percent of the vote.
Davis is a former building contractor and real estate agent who now works at Lowe’s Home Improvement, according to his Facebook page.
Marshall Adameof Jacksonville also joined the race. He ran against Republican Congressman Walter Jones in November and received 32 percent of votes. Adame is a retired U.S. Marine and also served in the State Department in Iraq.
Adame and Davis will face four others in the Feb. 7 election in Pittsboro: former state Rep. Patsy Keever, transgender activist Janice Covington of Charlotte, former congressional candidate Ron Sanyal and Salisbury businesswoman Constance Johnson.
Hundreds of party leaders are expected to vote on a successor for embattled chairman Randy Voller. Colin Campbell