Farmers' Market expands back to Wednesday hours this week
BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for May 6, 2010

Election sees incumbents cling to officeholding perches

There's been a fair amount of debate over the slogan used by the three incumbents seeking re-election to the school board -- one that notes that they'd bring a continuation of the current practices and what they see as improvements within the school system.

Some parents have debated that, arguing that what they perceive as an increasingly testing-centric model to measuring achievement is wrong... though given that Judge Manning emphasized yesterday that that's exactly what he wants to see in his oversight of the Leandro case's impact on local school systems, we should expect too much straying from that course.

Nor from the current direction of the school board, which saw Omega Curtis-Parker (47%) withstand a tight race against Donald Hughes (41%) for the District 1B seat, while Fredrick Davis handily bested Regina Stanley-King. 

Steve Martin, who faced the greatest count of challengers, seems likely to face a run-off with Natalie Beyer during the already-planned June runoff race for US Senate between Elaine Marshall and Cal Cunningham, assuming Beyer chooses to request a run-off. (Durham/Chapel Hill attorney Ken Lewis was eliminated in yesterday's race.)

Meanwhile, Nancy Cox -- who lost out to Leigh Bordley and Jonathan Alston in '08 -- made it to the board this time around, cruising to a big win (77%) in the District 3B seat.

Turnout was all over the veritable map, with an average 12.8% turnout masking real variances in turnout in different precincts.

West Durham progressive-heavy districts with polling sites like NCSSM, EK Powe, Brogden, the Ag Building and Forest Hills turned in some of the highest turnout rates, often 20%+. North Durham turnout rates were also significantly above average at many precincts.

But while White Rock and the IR Holmes Center saw relatively comparable turnout percentages, by and large some of the Durham Committee's typically impactful districts saw turnout that was a third to half those levels. So too were more rural precincts to the county's east and south -- though turnout in Bahama was strong.

For example: Glenn Elementary managed just over 10% turnout this time around, versus almost 49% in 2008 when the presidential race was at stake.

By contrast, NCSSM turnout drop-off -- 62% to 24% -- was much smaller, relatively speaking.

In other races, Doretta Walker and Freda Black are headed to the general election for one District Court judgeship this fall, with Steven Storch and a close-third Kerry Sutton trailing. Pat Evans was dominant in her District Court race, with 51% of the vote to second-place finisher Brian Aus' 25%.

Worth Hill handily beat Tony Butler in the primary for Durham County Sheriff. 

And while Fred Foster, Jr.'s 63%-32% Durham County besting of Winkie Wilkins in the state house primary would seem impressive, Wilkins' strong showing in his Person County home (where he garnered 72% of the vote, for an overall 60% take) meant that he'll move along to the general election this fall.

B.J. Lawson, meanwhile, will get a second chance at longtime Congressman David Price; one must wonder whether Lawson's campaign platform, which includes a desire to close the Federal Reserve Bank and opposition to the notion of climate change (per the Herald-Sun), will fare better in 2010's political environment than it did in 2008.

The Herald-Sun has comprehensive coverage this morning: see their articles on school board races, judicial races, the sheriff's race, the Wilkins and other state runs, and turn-out.



Elaine Marshall has absolutely no chance against Richard Burr. She's too far to the left and she reminds voters of our governor.


Other than both being well within the range of typical career Democrats in NC, the only thing they have in common is their genitalia. If Elaine Marshall had a penis and our governor also had a penis, I seriously doubt people would give their "similarities" a thought, as 200 years of history shows us.


Do you have any numbers to back that up?
This, from last month (via Five Thirty Eight), maybe doesn't say much for Marshall's chances but doesn't really suggest that Cunningham would be any kind of improvement.

Erik Landfried

I think if Elaine Marshall and Bev Perdue both had a penis, people would definitely give their "similarities" a thought.


Elaine Marshall is the ONLY person who can beat Burr. She is an experienced candidate/politician who won her first statewide election defeating NASCAR icon Richard Petty. Cunningham should spare the party the expense of resources and time in a runoff and concede. And Ken Lewis (whose supporters prefer Elaine to Cal by a large margin, per PPP polling) should quit waiting around to see who gives him the best consolation prize and do the right thing and endorse Marshall.

Todd Patton

Cna someone spell out the policy differences between Marshall and Cunningham? The idea that Marshall is "too far to the left" seems really odd to me - her positions don't seem radically different from Cunningham's, or from Sen. Kay Hagan's.

Richard "Empty the ATM, honey" Burr, on the other hand, is an embarrassment to the state with his pro-corporate policies and continued support of GOP filibusters on every piece of Senate business.

Rodrigo "El Justiciero" Dorfman

@Bull City Rising

Judge Manning speaks of centric models to measuring achievement because that's what he heard from DPS. Probably he hasn't heard the other side yet.

I hope that Judge Manning will have the time to meet with parents and researchers who offer different perspectives on how you measure "success".
I hope he will find the time to expand his knowledge so that in the end he can act accordingly.

But please, let's not jump to conclusions. Simplistic Statisticians have not yet won the day.


@Todd Patton

Marshall is arguably the more progressive candidate of the two. The most notable difference to me is that she is against sending any more troops to Afghanistan. Cunningham supports President Obama's decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan with a "surge" of 30,000 troops. Marshall is also clearly less coy about her support for LGBT civil rights, and she has been endorsed by Durham blogger and lesbian Pam Spaulding. A PPP poll also shows that the vast majority of Ken Lewis' supporters back Marshall in a head's up with Cunningham. Many of Cunningham's supporters argue that he is best suited to beat Burr because he is a decorated war veteran and can take on Burr with the large military constituency in NC. However, polls that have matched both Marshall and Cunningham against Burr have consistently shown that Marshall fares much better . Cunningham is the candidate of choice of the Washington party establishment and has had implicit support from the DSCC (Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee). Marshall appears to have the support of the state party apparatus and knows her way around NC politics. Personally, I think she is a win win for NC progressives because she is not only the more progressive candidate, she is better positioned to sideline another Republican rubber stamp like Richard Burr.


Query 1: If the "progressive" precincts turned out stronger than traditional DCABP precincts, why did Kerry Sutton (with PA and Indy endorsements) finish third?

Query 2: Come the new year, could we be looking at the Honorable Freda Black?

Kirsten Kainz


Please, by all means, take the intiative to set up a meeting between you and Judge Manning. Let us know how it goes.

El Justiciero

@Thomas.... Maybe because some of the PA and the Indy endorsements sucked....?

Rodrigo "El Justiciero" Dorfman

@Thomas - and that's in no way a commentary on Kerry Sutton's candidacy.


This just in from yesterday's 2nd grade Benchmarks:

"Is a peanut food? A-Yes, B-NO, C-Sometimes, D-Never, E-Always" With the disclaimer that it was reported orally by my daughter who was still trying to figure out the correct answer.

Thank goodness we do not have the latest greatest data systems in place that would have immediately spit out a worksheet or online link so that all children who answered the question incorrectly could practice, practice and practice to increase their chances of a correct answer next time.

Thank goodness we do not yet pay our teachers based on answers to questions like this one.

Perhaps if Judge Manning is deeply concerned about a quality education for all of the children of NC he will Immediately call hearings about the validity of judging "achievement" with such a crude and baseless tool.

There are more comprehensive ways to measure growth and learning. If he is serious about closing our schools and giving them away to be run by corporate charter schools who can magically train children to shade the correct bubbles, and turn a tidy profit at the same time then we need to DEMAND a more careful way of determining "achievement"

If you care about education in Durham, please realize that the dumbing down and destruction of our public schools is a national issue. We need to give Dr. Becoats a chance, Support our local schools, Stay positive on a local level and become more aware of what ARNE DUNCAN is doing to undermine public education in the entire US. There are many valid reasons why the current school board voted to hire a savvy data guy instead of a person with real educational leadership skills.


Freda Black is still coasting on her name recognition from the Mike Peterson trial, her run against Nifong in his last primary and a sadly mistaken belief among some Progressive women that she is some sort sort of example for woman to follow (and all I'll say about that is no, no, no and NO.)

I'm very sorry Kerry Sutton failed to make the cut.

Freda Black is absolutely not a good choice for a judgeship. Her numerous personal conflicts of interest within the legal and law enforcement community make her unsuitable.

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