Moore GOP chairman out in left field on runoff elections

Bob Levy is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.  He’s been a real peacemaker here in Moore County since Richard Morgan and his cronies were pretty much deposed from power within the county party.

Recently, our local thrice-weekly Nobel Prize-nominated, Oscar and Pulitzer Prize-winning local newspaper has been honoring Bob with a weekly column.  It appears that the honor of having his name appear in the pages of this journalistic powerhouse has really stroked Bob’s ego.

A number of really out-there statist ideas have been published in this column under Bob’s name — leaving many conservatives in the county to wonder if Messrs. Bouser, Woronoff and Daniels had perpetrated a Manchurian Candidate-style scheme.

Bob came out in favor of restoring Sunday blue laws.  Remember those?  If you needed a few groceries on Sunday — you were S.O.L.  

Now, Bob is suggesting that we should scrap the whole runoff and voting for Council of State thing:

On July 17, 2012, we will spend a “fool’s ransom” to decide who ought to go on the ballot for our Council of State.

This includes a Democratic primary held for the sole purpose of determining who will run for commissioner of labor. Republicans will decide who will run for lieutenant governor, commissioner of insurance, secretary of state and superintendent of public instruction.

Very few people know much about these candidates or for what issues they take a stand. In fact, so little was known about the recent Republican race for state auditor this past May that The Pilot failed to endorse anyone based upon lack of information.

I thought digging up information was the JOB of the mainstream news media — which allegedly includes The Pilot.  If they don’t have enough information, it’s due to the laziness within their newsroom. Nothing else.  That laziness does a disservice to their readers and to voters, who spend so much time working to make ends meet that they don’t have time to pay attention to the charlatans in political office.

One real example of The Pilot’s laziness sticks out in my mind.  In 2006, we had a state House race here in Moore County that drew statewide attention.  (That was the year we deposed Richard Morgan.) 

There was a candidate forum going on TWO BLOCKS from The Pilot’s offices in Southern Pines.   The Fayetteville Observer sent a reporter FROM FAYETTEVILLE to cover it.  The Pilot sent NO ONE.  The event would have had no local coverage if two of the candidates had not walked to The Pilot’s offices and told the newsroom what happened. 

Also, the county party organization bears A LOT of blame for not doing enough voter education on the GOP candidates.  In fact, the county GOP seems to do little more than hold executive committee meetings and fawn over Renee Ellmers and Pat McCrory when they come to town.

Also,  I am not opposed to paying for a runoff.  Are you comfortable with your party nominee heading into the general with only 35% of the vote?  That’s hardly a mandate or a vote of confidence.

If you want to save money — ditch early voting.  Cut down the number of days you have to pay someone to wait on voters to show up.  Early voting is a ripe opportunity for scammers to rig elections, as well.  We did just fine in the past with two choices: (1) show up on election day, or (2) send in an absentee ballot.

If you’re worried about voter convenience — the runoffs could have been held in June.  You could hold non-federal elections on Saturdays, like  Louisiana and a lot of other states do.

Read On:

The Pilot described the process of voting for these offices as one where voters scratch their heads and yawn. Such will probably not be true in July, however. No head-scratching or yawning will occur. Most voters will simply not show up at the polls, although they may be fully awake and choosing to scratch another part of their anatomy.

Yet we ought not chide the uninterested citizens who fail to vote in our state’s second primary. It would be easy to self-righteously call for greater voter education and scold those voters who would rather go to Myrtle Beach than choose a party’s candidate for labor commissioner. These jobs are important, but mostly boring to the general public.

Again, this is a failure of the news media AND the local parties.  (Nothing self-righteous here, Bob. )

For instance, the Department of Insurance has a HUGE say in whether your construction project will move forward, how much you will pay for health, vehicle and property insurance,  and whether you can get bonded.  It’s the chief fire inspector, and has the power to shut down any facility it deems unsafe.  That has a MAJOR impact on my wallet and YOURS.  Read On: 

Both before and after the vote, most citizens know little or nothing about the candidates they elect to the Council of State. And, most citizens will continue to remain in ignorance about these officials until one of them makes headlines with a vocal gaffe or a corrupt mess.

It is about time for North Carolina to consider allowing our governor to appoint members of the Council of State, with the possible exception of attorney general. For well over 200 years, our federal government has allowed our president to select his “lieutenant president” and choose a Cabinet subject to upper house confirmation.

As for the position of attorney general, recent experience seems to require more independence of the chief executive, not less. As for the rest, our nation has done well with an appointive instead of elected Cabinet. It places both greater responsibility on the chief executive and creates a greater expectation of accountability.

So, you want the state auditor — charged with monitoring the practices of the executive and legislative branches — appointed by the governor AND approved by  the general assembly?  That should work *well.*

First of all, the Council of State is NOT the cabinet.  The cabinet includes people like — oh — the transportation secretary, the secretary of corrections, the secretary of administration, the secretary of cultural resources, the secretary of the department of environment and natural resources, and the revenue secretary.

The Attorney General is the chief lawyer for the state.  The governor is the chief executive of the state.  When you have an AG of one party, and the governor of another party, you can run into political squabbles.  I recall one such situation in recent years, when the GOP governor of Mississippi had to hire a lawyer to represent the state because the Democrat AG refused to cooperate.  I could see appointing the Attorney General. 

If a labor rule harms industry or hurts workers, it should be placed at the feet of the governor, not some invisible labor commissioner. If the “buck stops” at the White House in Washington, it ought to also stop at the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh.

Tar Heels have always been adverse to concentrated power in the state’s executive branch.

We conservative types tend not to like that kind of stuff, Bob. Read On: 

Until the conclusion of the Civil War, our governors were never entrusted with more than two years in office. Until 1971, the governor could serve only one term. In 1996, ours was the last state in the Union to give the governor a veto.

This reluctance of North Carolinians to give power to the executive is generally traced to harsh treatment by our British Colonial governors and the prior eight Lords Proprietors, who essentially “owned the place.” But in the 350 years since the Proprietors were awarded this land, clearly things have changed, and the structure of North Carolina’s government needs to change too.

Democracy only works when people are interested. And, where there is disinterest by the voters, there will likely be mischief by the politicians. Our government is a political oxymoron.

So, we should become more authoritarian?  Bob — a lot of voters throw up their hands and drop out because they are given the mushroom treatment by the political establishment.  In recent years, there has been a resurgence in voter interest. (See Party, Tea. )

Sometimes we favor democracy with its open votes by the people.

Sometimes we favor noblesse oblige, deferring to others we elect who are more knowledgeable than us the burden to make the decisions necessary to run the republic.

In the case of our Council of State and perhaps our judges, I suggest we lean on our “republican’ predisposition rather than the “democratic.” We ought to allow our elected governor, with the advice and consent of our state Senate, the privilege to appoint officials to the important Cabinet jobs we call our Council of State.

We expect these jobs to be done competently, professionally and with more forethought than an average voter has to give. And, we ought to hold accountable our elected officials to make the competent appointments Tar Heels have deferred to them.

I trust the members of the General Assembly about as far as I could throw Richard Morgan — before he dropped all that weight.

Stuff like this coming out of the local GOP chairman provides a pretty good clue as to why UNAFFILIATED is the fastest growing bloc of voters in bright-red Moore County.