North Carolina Primary Potpourri

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 2 2014 8:53 AM

North Carolina Primary Potpourri

Before I left North Carolina yesterday, my browser kept handing me pertinent web ads for local campaigns. Case in point: This ad in the vicious race for an open gerrymandered Republican seat, between David Rouzer and Woody White. Rouzer allies hit White for daring to be a lawyer who represented criminals -- even a child molester! The response:

It's been a while since we saw the ol' "Mexican climbing over fence" ad. The basis, if you click through, is revealed to be a news item on a skimpy Tumblr that confirms Rouzer lobbied for the 2007 version of immigration reform.

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Meanwhile, Rand Paul's decision to swing into North Carolina for one Greg Brannon rally has inspired a second look at the doctor and inveterate Constitution-quoter's campaign. It looks, according to state-based pollsters, like Thom Tillis blew past Brannon and other challengers thanks to an immense TV ad and money advantage. From my own limited observation, it doesn't seem like Brannon's professorial and occasionally specious attempts to answer every question with a Constitutional citation (he basically invalidated Marbury v. Madison by claiming nothing the Supreme Court does is enforcable) have caught fire the way that Rand Paul's or Ted Cruz's populism libertarianism did. The most memorable Paul TV ad, for example, portrayed government and big business as a "machine" crushing the rights and opportunities of you and me. The most memorable Brannon ad consists of him shooting some guns.

But John Frank has looked at Brannon's campaign, noted that he is doing few public events in the stretch, and theorized about a secret weapon.

From a dozen offices across the state, the campaign says hundreds are working polling locations and phone banks to turn out supporters.
FreedomWorks, a national tea party organizer based in Washington that endorsed Brannon, is helping to coordinate hundreds more who have distributed 70,000 door hangers, 22,000 yard signs and 4,000 bumper stickers to boost the campaign.

That's nice, but in the last Republican primary -- the pretty uncompetitive 2012 race -- close to 900,000 votes were cast. If the exact same turnout was managed this year, Tillis would need only around 360,000 votes to avoid a runoff. There's no evidence here that Brannon, who has won the endorsements of most local Tea Party groups, is going to be able to rise from a respectable 20-odd percent of the vote to the level where he can force a runoff. 

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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