Gabriel Sistare, staff writer
Along with the outstanding national election that ended in a substantial defeat for Republicans, North Carolina Democrats had significant wins at the state and local level.
The New Governer
Bev Perdue, the Lt. Governer under the incumbent Mike Easley, won by a 50 to 47 percent margin over Charlotte Mayor Pat McCorry.
Perdue’s win was part of a larger victory for women in North Carolina. State Treasurer Janet Cowell and auditor Beth Wood won their elections as well.
Perdue’s campaign focused on creating a more transparent and efficient government in Raleigh. One of her propositions is to create a Google-style search engine that would provide North Carolinians with easy access to state contracts.
Along with improving public access to state information, Perdue plans to enlarge a children’s health care program, expand pre-kindergarten programs, and increase the number of students eligible for the state-funded two year college degree.
The Blue Dog Representative
Heath Shuler, the freshman Representative from North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, secured 62 percent of the vote to claim a win over Asheville City Council member Carl Mumpower.
The self declared “Blue Dog,” or one of a collection of fiscally conservative House Democrats, Representative Shuler declared his victory over Mumpower in West Asheville at 10 p.m. Tuesday night.
Often saying his aisle-crossing tendencies are representative of his district, Shuler possibly secured the win with the help of individuals like Grier Weeks, North Carolina Democratic activist, who seemed confident that “he’ll be in that seat as long as he wants to be.”
Shuler’s Senate Partner
Kay Hagan defeated one-term Senator Elizabeth Dole in a win for Democrats that got them close to a filibuster proof majority.
In a rather controversial race, in which Senator Dole received criticism for her “godless” campaign advertisement, Hagan eventually succeeded, possibly with the help of millions of dollars extended to her campaign in hopes that Democrats would secure the Senate majority.
Hagan began as a state legislator from Greensboro and rather reluctantly rose to the occasion in 2007 to unseat Dole this year.
Dole may have jeopardized her campaign by producing the television advertisement criticizing Hagan for meeting with “atheists” – in actuality a group that supported the separation of church and state – that concluded with a Hagan-like voiceover saying “there is no god.” But regardless of inflammatory advertisements, Hagan received the win in a long fought battle.
Buncombe County’s Democratic Majority
At the county level, Democrats also succeeded in their campaigns for County Commissioner seats. David Gantt became the Commissioner Chariman, and was followed by four other Democrats. Holly Jones, K. Ray Bailey, Bill Stanley, and Carol Peterson, all received the win with 5-10 percent margins over their competitors. Gantt and the other Democrats are likely to focus on zoning ordinances that would slow development on mountainsides and ridge tops.