A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the Republican candidate for Governor, Dan Forest. The post included a video of a speech Forest gave on M.L.K. Day. The controversy surrounding the speech was covered in state-wide news, and some national sites even picked up on it.

Well, I watched the video again. Then I watched it a few more times.

I put my lawyer cap on and tried to look at it objectively, focusing not so much on what was said, but on what was happening in the room. What struck me as I continued to replay it was that Forest has his intended audience eating out of the palm of his hand. Those in attendance even began to enthusiastically quote Bible verses back to Forest.

The speech could easily be a sermon, Forest a preacher, and his audience a congregation at any evangelical church in North Carolina on any given Sunday. This is what gives it political power. You can criticize the content, but you can’t really argue against its effectiveness.

The Political Power of Preaching

First off, this isn’t a case study in evangelical politics. I’m not going to discuss abortion, or gay marriage, or the bathroom bill. This is about an oratory skill that certain individuals possess in politics.

I’m talking about a politician’s ability to “preach” to his/her audience, regardless of the content of their speech or the “content of their character.” (This post started with M.L.K., after all.)

The power of preaching can be used to draw out a person’s deepest emotions. Human emotions can be relatively positive (hope, justice, compassion) or they can be negative (anger, fear, retribution). Regardless, the people that matter in politics are prospective voters. Emotions drive these voters to the polls. When that happens, assuming your preaching didn’t backfire, you win.

Oratory skills can make up for a lot of deficiencies in politics. They can also be used as a spring-board for fame and higher office. The “Cross of Gold” Speech, in which William Jennings Bryan evoked the literal crucificiction of the working man by elites, made him a national superstar.

“You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”

Most contemporary press accounts attributed Bryan’s nomination to his eloquence, though in the case of Republican and other gold-favoring newspapers, they considered it his demagoguery. The pro-silver Cleveland Plain Dealer called Bryan’s speech “an eloquent, stirring, and manly appeal”. The Chicago Tribune reported that Bryan had lit the spark “which touched off the trail of gun-powder.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch opined that with the speech, Bryan “just about immortalized himself”.

The current president has been compared to Bryan often. Here’s a story from the Wall Street Journal, describing Bryan as “The Trump Before Trump.” According to the Journal, “Both men used their communication skills to upend well-established political hierarchies.”

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Care for a recent Democratic example? How about this one…..

Barack Obama does not win the Democratic Nomination in 2008 without that speech. It just doesn’t happen.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be “flashy” like Bryan, Trump, and Obama to be an effective political preacher.

Robert Kennedy wasn’t master orator. In fact, he was probably below-average. He just kind of talks his way through it, but he draws out some of the purest emotion that a heart can imagine. The man could “preach.”

RFK’s “preaching” power lies in the depth and quality of his words as well as the steady conviction with which he serves them.

Tar Heel Preachers

Despite being the in the Bible Belt and the home-place of Billy Graham, North Carolina politics have been somewhat devoid of the kind of preaching we see on the national stage. You can go back to Jesse Helms for a little firebranding, but for the most part, we’re a little too “reserved” in our politics.

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Our current Senators, Burr and Tillis, are low-key men. They’re simply not ones to get you inspired or stirred up. Burr doesn’t even bother wearing socks, after all.

The last man I can think of that had the oratory skills I’m describing (and still does despite his age) is Jim Hunt. Kay Hagan didn’t. Pat McCrory didn’t. Roy Cooper doesn’t.

So we have to wonder whether the Tar Heel State needs a preacher in 2020?

I think it might…

The Right Side

My first post of the year was about the concept of “fear” in the 2020 election. Well, that was before the outbreak of the coronavirus. You could say that we’re in an uncertain time right now.

We’re also in a massively divisive time in terms of partisan politics. I’m not going to get into that. It’s self-evident, and if it’s not, pay attention to the impeachment vote in the Senate in a few days.

So we have a lot of uncertainty, some fear, and a huge partisan fight going on. Where do people turn when all this happens?

I think it comes down to whether you’re in the fight or not. If you’re on the outside looking in, it’s easy to shrug off these feelings. One “preacher” made that same mistake, and it cost him a lot of votes, although he still won the election:

I don’t think we have the “elitist” luxury of sitting back and analyzing this fight in 2020. We’re all in it this time. Trump picked a fight for the whole country. Democrats answered the call by impeaching him, and 2020 is shaping up to mean more than a normal election.

Everyone wants to be right.

Everyone can’t.

The man who can make Tar Heel voters feel and believe that they are on the right side of this partisan war will win the Governor’s race.

Roy Cooper better step up his game. He’s got a preacher comin’ for him.

Out here in the middle
Where the center’s on the right
And the ghost of William Jennings Bryan preaches every night
Savin’ lonely souls
In the dashboard light.

Dan Forest Discusses Race Extermination on MLK Day

“There’s no doubt that, when Planned Parenthood was created, it was created to destroy the entire black race. That was the purpose of Planned Parenthood. That’s just the truth. That’s not just some bloc on the side. That was the purpose when that organization was created.

How the black community can’t come together and see that and understand that and fight against it, I don’t know. And how the white community can’t come together and see that and fight against it, I don’t know either.”

Dan Forest

Dan Forest is your Lieutenant Governor. If you haven’t heard, he’s running against Roy Cooper with a hope to remove the “Lieutenant” from his title.

Forest is a Christian conservative to the bone. He’s going to cloak his desire for political office as a calling from God. He may or may not be honest in his motives. But that’s between him and God.

However, Forest demonstrated this past weekend that he is very happy to conflate the support of a woman’s right to choose with the extermination of black people.

Welcome to the 2020 Gubernatorial Campaign in the Great State of North Carolina. This is only the beginning.

"Top 9" for 2019

At the end of 2018, I wrote a “Top 8 for 2018” post that included links to the 8 most-viewed blog posts on this site for the calendar year.

I’m a fan of tradition, so here’s your top 9 posts for the year 2019:

9. Cumberland County Commission Districts are Unconstitutional: This post examines the racially gerrymandered nature of Cumberland County’s Commission Districts and discusses recent court opinions that call into question their constitutionality.

In short: The districts are drawn on racial lines without a compelling government justification. They need to be redrawn.

8. Historic Pandering in NC-09 Congressional Race: This post discussed the political history of the Lumbee Tribe and recent Republican gains in Robeson County. It will be interesting to see whether Robeson County supports Trump in the 2020 election.

7. The Case for At-Large Seats – Fayetteville City Council: I wrote this one after abysmal turnout in last year’s municipal elections. Fayetteville’s City Council Districts chop the City into 9 in-congruent parts. At-large seats would give Fayetteville voters the ability to choose more than one member of their city council and would create council members accountable to the entire city, not “their” particular districts:

“Council members have an incentive to look after “theirs” without regard to the needs of those in other districts or the city as a whole. As it stands today, the Mayor is currently the only decision-maker on Hay Street that is accountable to all of us. “

6. The Giving Trees of Fayetteville: This post analyzed the controversy over the City Council lowering fines for cutting down large trees in town. I pointed out a mistake in the Fayetteville Observer’s coverage of the issue and took the position that the fines were excessive, angering some of my readership.

5. When the Law Says it All: This post examines the legality of Fayetteville’s Downtown Development Project (a parking deck) under the North Carolina Statutes governing these projects.

Facility for a public purpose??? You be the judge…if the deck ever opens.

4. Dirty Bucks and Studies (Downtown Fayetteville): In this post I compared the parking infrastructure problems in downtown Fayetteville to the shoes I used to wear to church as a young man.

Image result for dirty bucks

You also have the double entendre of “dirty” money in politics. I had fun writing it.

3. Prince Charles Holdings Under Scrutiny: This one discussed the News and Observer’s investigation into Fayetteville’s downtown development partners:

Readers of this site know I’ve been critical of the parking deck deal with Prince Charles Holdings for well over a year. I don’t believe it is a good allocation of tax payer resources, and it arguably violates the public purpose requirement of the North Carolina Constitution. In short, it’s an economic windfall for Prince Charles Holdings. But should we be surprised??? These guys literally wrote the book on how to do these deals. Of course they’re going to come out on top.

Today, the massive crane kept lifting steel in the air as construction continued downtown. The stadium should be done in a few months with the parking deck to follow. We seem to be stuck in this deal, despite the cost overruns. It’s going to happen.

In the last analysis, it’s a sad day for the City of Fayetteville when our downtown “business partners” are being exposed in “sunshine week” at the News and Observer.

Play Ball!!!

2. “Write-In” Campaign Gains Traction in City Council Race: This one was a case-study in Fayetteville politics: we often chirp an awful lot about things that don’t really matter. In this case, Mayor Colvin and Val Applewhite helped start the commotion around Dominique Ashley’s write-in campaign for city council. I fell into the trap, as did many others. On election day, Ashley was trounced by the incumbent, Tisha Waddell.

1. Full Court Press Downtown: This post is the culmination of all the problems I’ve had discovering the details of Fayetteville’s downtown development project. The plans for the deal have evolved into some kind of ephemeral legal smoke, and you can’t get a straight answer from anyone that should know what is going on. It’s frustrating, to say the least.

I can honestly tell you (and I hope I’ve gained your trust after these few years) that our City leaders have no idea what’s going on with this deal. Someone else is driving the ship.

In the end, it’s an irresponsible way to play with the full faith and credit of the City of Fayetteville.

I’ll try to keep shining a light in 2020. Maybe we’ll get somewhere.

Thanks for reading.

Cumberland Left Flank May Flip 8th District in 2020

Cumberland County has long since been carved into congressional districts that run a three-mile drive west. When your geographic voting block is on the flank of a district and cut in half, you lose political power, and hence, importance.

Congressional candidates (all seemingly from the western half of the District) will stop by from time to time if a new road or factory opens or they need money a few weeks before an election, but that’s about it.

This hasn’t been good for those of us that live here. We can’t elect one of our own and we get little attention.

But all that may change next year…

Washington Insider

Republican Incumbent, Richard Hudson, was groomed by the G.O.P. to be the 8th District’s Congressman. Robin Hayes held the seat from 1999 to 2009, and Hudson was Hayes’ District Manager for over half of that time. Hudson learned the ins and outs of the District along the way, and he’s never faced a serious challenge since first winning the seat in 2012.

Hudson’s “mentor” has since been indicted for corruption and bribery charges.

Image result for robin hayes indicted mugshot"

As far as I can tell, Hudson’s never had a job outside of Republican politics. He is, however, very effective at touring all of the places where real people work.

Image result for richard hudson factory"

Hudson even married inside the beltway. Hudson’s wife is the Chief of Staff for Kellyanne Conway.

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Which leads me to Donald J. Trump….which leads to me to 2020, where we find that the 8th District is not quite as safe as it once was for Mr. Hudson.

The District went from “red” to “pink,” as one might say on a farm somewhere in Montgomery County.

Hudson still had a reason to smile after the changes. Pink is better than blue or purple for a guy like him. But after a particular announcement last week, Hudson knows he’s got some serious work to do to hold onto to his seat.

Cumberland Challenger

Former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson thinks she can win a pink district and has decided to challenge Hudson in 2020.

Image result for patricia timmons-goodson"

I think she may be right, and it will all start with her hometown.

2020 will be a referendum on Donald Trump. Democrats are sick and tired and will vote like it.

You’ll also have a highly contentious race for Governor up for grabs.

Image result for dan forrest roy cooper"

Roy Cooper will be fighting for his political life. Dan Forrest is a smart, eloquent politician and is going to come after Cooper with a boat-load of money behind him. As a result of these high-profile races, there will be massive turnout.

Cumberland County will show up to the polls in 2020. Just trust me on that.

If Timmons-Goodson does what she should do in her home county and steals enough women voters from Hudson throughout the District, she can flip this seat.

More to come on this one in 2020.


If you were reading this blog last year, you’ll note that I covered the Kirk deViere – Wesley Meredith battle for North Carolina’s 19th Senate District extensively.

You could say I know what I’m talking about when it comes to this race. Last year, I publicly predicted each candidate’s share of the vote within .03 of a percentage point, two days before the election. It’s one of the greatest success stories in the history of Cumberland County political punditry.

In all seriousness, it looks like “Senator” Meredith didn’t take kindly to sitting out this last term, and he’s raising money for a rematch:

Someone’s gotta pay for those glossy, glittery ads.

If you’d like to help ensure our mailboxes are painted pink next year, I’m sure Meredith would love to see you at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

This “swing” district is a microcosm of the partisan battle going on in this state. The race is worth your attention if you care about politics, at all.

Just be careful this time around. That glitter gets everywhere.