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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

North Carolina's Racially Divided Democrats Prepare For 2010 GOP Landslide

Top North Carolina Democrats Warn Of 2010 GOP Landslide

N.C. Senate Majority Leader Martin Nesbitt Tuesday invoked the Republican landslide of 1994 in urging Democrats to take nothing for granted - and go to the polls.

He told the Charlotte Uptown Democrats that changes in election law could help his party avoid a GOP sweep like the one that surprised Democrats 16 years ago.

"We know it can happen now," he said at the Levine Museum of the New South. "That's probably the biggest thing that's different."

Nesbitt, an Asheville Democrat, also touted new figures that show North Carolina led the nation in job gains from July to August and ranked fourth in the country in gains over the last 12 months - numbers that he said argue for continued Democratic leadership in Raleigh.

Nesbitt is the second-ranking Democrat in a Senate where Democrats now control 30 of 50 seats. But seven Democratic incumbents are either retiring or already have gone.

And with polls showing more voter enthusiasm for Republicans, the GOP is confident of picking up at least the six seats that would put them in charge for the first time since 1898.

On Monday the conservative Civitas Institute released a poll that showed Republicans leading Democrats on a generic legislative ballot by 11 percentage points.

John Davis, a pro-business political analyst, predicted Tuesday that if the elections were held now, Republicans would win at least 27 seats and are within reach of 29.

Nesbitt said he believes Democrats will hold most contested races, even those in Republican-leaning districts currently held by Democrats.

"At the end of the day, they're ours," he said. "The only way those people are going to lose is if we don't turn our people out on Election Day."

Nesbitt, who lost a House seat in the 1994 GOP landslide, was joined by Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx in urging Democrats to vote. He said unlike 1994, his party has on its side early-voting and same-day registration, which so far have helped Democrats.

The elections take place in the shadow of a state budget shortfall estimated at $3 billion. Nesbitt said Democrats would ensure that the state deals with that without hurting education - which takes up 57 percent of the budget - and other critical programs. Not so Republicans, he added.

"I guess they would cut $3 billion," said Nesbitt. "And they said they want to cut taxes too, so if they do that they would have to cut more (spending)."

Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, agreed that Republicans would cut spending, but systematically.

"One of the things very easy for them to do is say all those (Republicans) are going to do is slash-and-burn. That's not what we're going to do," Berger said. "I think most folks believe there's a degree of waste and inefficiency in government."

Berger said Republicans would adopt a long-range plan to reduce spending.

Asked later how he would fix the $3 billion shortfall, Nesbitt said he would keep his options open, but called a tax increase "unlikely."

"If we ever start recovering out of this recession, a lot of that will take care of itself," he said.

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Sources:, McClatchy Newspapers, North Carolina General Assembly, Youtube, Google Maps

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