It's been a breakneck last day for me personally, catching up on email and the news stories I missed while away for most of last week (without Internet access, notably.) Thanks to several readers for the interesting comments on the Young Dems/NCCU candidate forum, which put a couple of comments candidates made in that forum into a different light.
Meantime, if you're just coming around to making up your mind for next week's election, may I suggest the following resources:
- The Herald-Sun has a very good Q&A with all the candidates for Council who submitted answers to the paper's prepared questions.
- The N&O has its own (slightly shorter) Q&A with both mayoral and Council candidates at their Triangle.com web site.
- If you're looking for endorsements, the Herald-Sun went with Eugene Brown, Diane Catotti, and Farad Ali; the Indy went with Brown, Catotti and David Harris.
The question on my mind -- and many others' this week -- relates to exactly who will walk away from next week's primary with a shot at a Council seat, and who'll just walk away. In this year's election, the question really comes down to a game of numbers.
BCR's prediction: Brown and Catotti are sure bets to be in the top six from the primary; both have received endorsements from both the Friends of Durham and the PA plus the consensus endorsement of the local press, and both are incumbents with high name recognition. In three-four order following behind them seem likely to be Ali and Harris, based on the level of activity present in their campaigns and support from the powerful local Democratic Party in Harris' case, and the Durham Committee in Ali's.
The bigger question is, what happens to the bottom two slots in the order? David Thompson, Jr. and Joe Williams are non-factors in the election, which means it's Victoria Peterson and the GOP Three of Steve Monks, Laney Funderburk, and Melodie Parrish aiming for the last two positions.
Peterson has of course attracted a disproportionate amount of attention for her campaign, thanks to her often-controversial statements on race and gay rights as well as her zealous support of former DA Mike Nifong. But in focusing on her opposition to Durham's status quo, particularly in terms of downtown development and public investment, she is for this election cycle more likely to appeal to the same voices of dissatisfaction as the GOP Three.
Complicating matters for Peterson: although the GOP Three would historically be likely to have low odds of getting into office, the fact that they're running as a team means that many of their supporters are probably going to vote a straight-ticket for them -- boosting the vote totals of all three candidates, again at Peterson's expense.
Of course, if Brown-Catotti-Ali-Harris take the top four slots, this leaves room for only at most two of the three members of the GOP Team to make it in. Our guess is that any defections from the team will come from the Monks side, given his controversial role in what was essentially a Nifong-Cheek-Monks DA election last fall; if he (or Cheek) had stepped aside, Nifong would have gone down to a November defeat.
So our guess is that Funderburk and Parrish, in that order, will make it into the top six, with Monks and Peterson falling to positions seven and eight.
If the GOP Three do better than expected and knock out either Ali or Harris, or challenge Brown and Catotti for the top slots, it may be a sign that Stith could do very well indeed in this fall's election.
Does Peterson have a chance? Even with the Durham Committee's surprising endorsement choice, I don't think so, given her visible and often risible history in the political community here in town. If she squeaks in, it would be no higher than sixth place. It seems more likely that this endorsement will fail to stem a great defeat (as did the Committee's school board endorsements in that recent election), leading to a diminution of the Committee's power -- or at least chairwoman Lavonia Allison's own lock on the organization.