Queer eye for poll time

Editor's Note

ObamaThe North Carolina Primary has come and gone. The TV ads, the robo-calls and canvassers are things of the past. The candidates and their campaigns have, for the most part, packed up their bags and headed on to the next battleground.

The next battleground!? Yes — you heard me correctly. The race for the White House isn’t over yet, or at least it wasn’t over when I wrote this, on the last production day possible for this issue of the paper.

Perhaps the campaigning won’t be over for some time. Will it go all the way to the convention? Oh, gosh, I hope so. (Note: This paragraph comes with a complementary spoonful of sarcasm.)
Sen. Hillary Clinton lost the N.C. Primary by a margin of almost 14 points but won the Indiana Primary 51 percent to 49 percent. On May 7, The Washington Blade un-endorsed the New York senator, saying it was time for her to step away from the campaign trail. Hesitantly, I’ll admit that I agree.

In his post-Carolina Primary speech, Sen. Barack Obama pled for unity. That translates to: Get out of the way, Hillary! Obama should be sitting back, legs propped up and relaxing in the comfort of knowing he’ll be the Democrats’ nominee come the end of August. Hey, Barack, buddy — get some rest. You’ll need it against McCain.

From the presidential races to the local offices, the North Carolina Primary gave the state’s LGBT community a chance to get involved in ways hardly ever seen before.

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With the spotlight placed dead-center on the Tar Heel state, LGBT volunteers worked for each of the presidential candidates and state and local contenders. Their hard work paid off in the form of increased voter participation and awareness.

Campaigns reached out to the LGBT community. For the first time ever, Q&As from each of the top Democratic presidential campaigns appeared side-by-side under the masthead of a local LGBT media outlet — yup, that’s right: Q-Notes. In Charlotte and Hickory, the Clinton campaign organized a party and rally specifically for LGBT citizens.

In the U.S. Senate race, openly gay Chapel Hill businessman Jim Neal was unable to undo N.C. State Sen. Kay Hagan’s last minute jump in popularity. Through her use of heavy advertising, Hagan and Neal’s one-time neck-and-neck race ended in Hagan’s overwhelming win, 60 percent to 18 percent.
Activist and Sirius OutQ radio talk show host Michelangelo Signorile has been among many speaking out against the bad hand dealt to Neal by national LGBT organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign and Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

On his blog, Signorile argued that if Neal had received help, he might have given Hagan a better run for her money.

“With the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee [DSCC] giving money to Hagan, along with local political groups, and then HRC refusing to endorse Neal, it was no surprise that Hagan had more visibility, more TV ads and thus swayed that huge undecided block who knew little about either candidate and certainly much less about Neal,” Signorile wrote.

Durham, N.C., blogger Pam Spaulding echoed many of Signorile’s thoughts, lamenting national LGBT organizations’ focus on candidate viability.

“It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” she wrote. “And you know there are folks in the ivory tower in DC gloating over the margin of victory, full of bravado of the ‘I told you so’ — well guess what — that attitude is part of the problem you have with the grassroots. Get out of the sterile, self-stroking environment; it’s not becoming.”

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Signorile also wrote, “…[I]t’s not like Elizabeth Dole’s seat is on any list of incumbents whom the [Democratic National Committee], DSCC, or independent strategists see as highly vulnerable. It’s certainly not one they’re expecting to take. So, why not back Neal, an openly gay candidate, help to build him as a candidate, even if he loses, and thus help organize the grass roots in a red state where we are making a lot of progress?”

Neal worked hard in his U.S. Senate race and I really believe his political career isn’t over. Go home, Jim, get some rest and heal from this defeat — and then join us for a shot at the N.C. Senate or House.

In North Carolina’s gubernatorial race, Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue easily won over EqualityNC-endorsed Treasurer Richard Moore. Despite the loss, EqualityNC didn’t have a bad night — 12 of their 13 endorsed candidates prevailed in their respective primaries.

In the Republican gubernatorial primary, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory won against competitor N.C. State Sen. Fred Smith. McCrory will face Perdue in November.

Whatever our individual disagreements, now is the time to heal the divisions. Democrats are already too fractured, being the “Party of Everything the Republicans Aren’t” and all.

We’ll need all our strength come November. To combine that strength, we’ll at least need to be able to work in the same room without calling each other names or starting fights.

— For complete election results, visit http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/NC/1875/index.html.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.