Senate Race Heats Up, Observer Shuts Up

No Point In Telling the Public Says Charlotte Observer

When I heard that the people who always supported Senator Aaron Plyler were going around telling folks that I was too partisan to be effective, I was pretty sure I knew how the Democrats planned to attack me this year. My suspicions were confirmed when the reliably liberal Charlotte Observer said much the same.

But the Observer didn't just repeat the slander, they cited as support a survey done by the NC Center for Public Policy Research without mentioning that their surveys have been so biased in favor of Democrats for years that this year the House and Senate Republican caucuses voted not to even participate.

Making matters worse, when I asked the editors whether they knew of the boycott they admitted that they did but said they didn't think it made any difference. When I said I thought it was misleading to suggest to their readers that a survey known to measure friendliness with the Democrat leadership (committee chairmanships and appointments are decided by the Democrats) rather than legislative accomplishments was a measure of effectiveness, they invited me to write a letter to the editor.

They should be embarrassed by the fact they're using a survey Republican legislators boycotted for its bias as a basis for advising voters how to vote in a Republican primary. They're not.

In the 2000 election my opponent said on television that a group that doesn't even give endorsements endorsed him. The president of the group asked the Enquirer-Journal and the Union Observer (the Charlotte Observer's Union County edition) to set the record straight. The Enquirer-Journal printed the story on the front page. The Union Observer refused to print it.

Which is worse, refusing to print the news when it hurts their favorite or actively misleading the public?

Senate Race Heats Up - Plyler Out, Everyone Else In

When I signed up to run for the Senate, I hoped to replace Senator Plyler and help give the Republicans a majority in the Senate for the first time in 134 years. At least part of my goal is accomplished. Senator Plyler has conceded. He even admitted his polls showed him starting out 16 to 18 points behind and that winning was virtually impossible.

The question now is whether the rest of the goal can be accomplished. Suddenly, I have a whole new set of opponents who are actively campaigning while I'm in Raleigh doing the job I was elected to do. I hope the voters are paying attention.

Earlier this year Senate Republican Caucus leader Patrick Ballantine, along with the joint Republican caucus leader and the Chairman of the Union County Republican Party, asked me to run for the NC Senate because the Senate Caucus couldn't find two Republican candidates willing to run against Senators Plyler and Purcell in the two-member district gerrymandered to re-elect them. I filed as requested.

When filing reopened in July with single member districts, I refiled. Bill Davis, who had originally filed with me to take on Plyler and Purcell, also filed again. It isn't surprising Bill or I filed.

Unfortunately, in addition to Bill, three other candidates filed to run as Republicans. One of them had actually filed to run for the House, but when Plyler announced he wouldn't run, he switched to the Senate. He even said, “Plyler's decision not to run helped to change his mind.” How interesting.

When Democrats advertise urging Democrats to reregister to vote in a Republican primary, which is what happened in Union County this year, it is urgent that those who support the Republican platform take time to vote. Vote! And urge your friends to vote too.

Who is Responsible for the Mess in Raleigh?

It amazes me how effective the press has been in keeping the public in the dark about the legislative process. Let me share a few little known facts.

Not all members have a say in what bills are heard on the floor or in committee. In the House, the committee chairs, who decide what bills are heard in committee, are appointed by the Speaker. The Speaker decides what amendments he will permit to be heard on the floor. The Speaker appoints the conferees that try to resolve budget differences. Except for the title, the Senate is the same.

So when the press talks about the length of session, it would only be fair to let the public in on who is responsible. That's right, the Democrat leadership of the House and the Senate, who control the flow of bills.

We're now in Raleigh because we're waiting on a budget conference report. The Democrat leader of the House or the Democrat leader of the Senate appointed the budget conferees. The Senate leader didn't appoint a single Republican and the House named too few to matter.

So how can the press let those same leaders get away with blaming partisan gridlock for our continued presence in Raleigh? Is it selective memory?

What we have now is either a case of Democrats arguing with Democrats or Democrats colluding with Democrats to drag their feet because keeping us in Raleigh gives them some political advantage. Perhaps the Democrat leaders think if they stall ‘til after the election they can get a majority to vote for even more taxes so they can spend even more.

Last week the Democrats tried to divert attention from this year's legislative fiasco by talking about session limits in the future. Unfortunately, the bill as written just gave more power to people who already have too much.

Portfolio Fight May be Over – Teachers Win !!!

In a stunning vote as part of the House budget debate, supporters of teachers and principals around the state delivered a stinging rebuke to the “experts” who were trying to centralize the teacher certification process in Raleigh. By a vote of 71-45, House members supported my amendment, which should, under normal budget rules, mean an end to the portfolio requirement for teacher certification.

Last year I tried to get the portfolio requirement dropped but the Speaker declined to permit a vote on my amendment. This year Portfolio advocates thought they could undercut support for ending portfolios by putting a provision in the budget to suspend the requirement while the process was studied and streamlined.

Representative Marge Carpenter had wanted to run the portfolio-ending amendment in the Appropriations Committee, but was told that if she tried to do so, both the suspension amendment and hers would be ruled out of order. In order to get some relief for teachers, Marge promised not to run her amendment. For some reason, the portfolio requirement advocates never asked me my plans.

This issue shows the deep divide between the Raleigh “experts” who keep dreaming up new burdens for teachers and the teachers and principals who want to be permitted to focus on their first responsibility, teaching our children. It also shows most legislators want to support teachers and principals and will if they make clear their desires when they differ from those of the “experts.”

To see how your representative voted, go to www.ncleg.net, Votes 8/13/2002, SB 1115, A17


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