by Michael Lowrey
JLF Chairman John Hood offers up this analysis of next year’s U.S. Senate race:
I think it would be foolish for [Richard} Burr not to take the 2016 campaign seriously. I also think [Deborah] Ross, in particular, has the potential to excite some of the state party’s donors and activists. But I still think it’s striking that no higher-profile Democrats have opted to run. North Carolina is a closely divided state. The seat is important to Democrats hoping to recapture the U.S. Senate next year.
So what’s going on? My opinion is that most North Carolina Democrats, and even many Democrats across the country, are far more interested in defeating Gov. Pat McCrory than they are in defeating Burr. They believe Attorney General Roy Cooper is the candidate most likely to accomplish that task. They are already planning to pour most of their resources into helping him. Knowing that, Democrats who might otherwise have run for Senate have concluded that it will be difficult to gain the attention and raise the funds necessary to win in 2016.
It’s not hard to explain why North Carolina Democrats are so focused on beating McCrory. They strongly disagree with the policy choices Republicans have been making over the past several years. Given the district maps and other institutional disadvantages, they hold out little hope of retaking either chamber of the General Assembly in 2016. Their only chance to combat GOP initiatives on taxes, spending, education, and other issues is to elect Cooper and hope he can get his vetoes sustained by a combination of unified Democrats and dissident Republicans.
There’s also the matter of patronage. Governors build organizations and parties in ways that senators can’t. Governors hire hundreds of people for political or high-level policy jobs. They appoint thousands of people to boards and commissions. Their administrations award contracts and make policy decisions that benefit some interest groups and harm others. Democrats have been in charge of this massive machine for most of the state’s history. They desperately want it back, particularly if they are politicos, lobbyists, high-level attorneys, or executives in industries whose prospects are significantly influenced by state action. By comparison, U.S. senators have fewer favors to offer (although some of them can be immensely valuable to particular individuals or businesses).
You can read the rest of John column here.