Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wayne Goodwin Announces His Plans Regarding 2008 Labor Commissioner Race

August 28, 2007

To My Dear Friends and Supporters:

Re: 2008 Candidacy for NC Commissioner of Labor

Four years ago this month – after serving eight years in the North Carolina House of Representatives – I formally announced my candidacy for Commissioner of Labor.

I ran in 2004 out of a sense of mission – for our economy, for my hometown that had been devastated by major job losses, and for what I believed was right for the State and my political party.

I was honored to receive the Democratic nomination and to share my passion and ideas about the role of the office of Labor Commissioner with tens of thousands of voters across the Tar Heel state.

Of course, running against a sitting Commissioner of Labor and being the only Democrat running Statewide in 2004 against an incumbent Republican, I knew it was going to be a challenge.

Notwithstanding, I out-organized and out-worked my opponent and won lifelong friends across the State. County keys and business leaders supporting me around North Carolina, as well as many newspaper editorial boards and voter advocates from both major parties, endorsed my candidacy. Though it wasn’t easy, I also raised approximately 25% more funds than my opponent and ran regional and Statewide campaign advertising longer than she did.

However, in the waning days of the 2004 election the poll numbers in North Carolina of those Democrats running for President and Vice President, as well as for U.S. Senate, took a dip. As a result, so did mine. In the end, although I received a majority of the “early vote”, the preference of those voting on Election Day itself did not go my way and my campaign came up short. By all accounts, it was a respectable loss. (Taking the sting out of the loss was personal joy for my wife who was elected by an ultra-landslide to succeed me in the legislature.)

Immediately thereafter my friends and supporters insisted that I run again for North Carolina Labor Commissioner. After all, they reminded me, many State officials often have won election on their second try after an initial trial run.

Over the last 30 months I have continued my travels and speaking engagements and modest fundraising around the Tar Heel State, all the while exploring my plans for next year. Everywhere I was invited the call was strong and encouraging: Don’t give up. Do run again. You’re a great candidate who ran for the right reasons.

After more than two years of intense deliberation with my immediate family and my closest friends and supporters, and most particularly during the last several weeks as I reached a self-imposed deadline for a formal decision, I hereby issue the following statement:

I will not be a candidate for North Carolina Commissioner of Labor in 2008.

This decision affords me the opportunity to further focus on the needs of my family, the most immediate members of which still are impacted by the rigors and fundraising pressures of my 2004 bid.

This decision also affords me the opportunity to continue my full-time duties serving as Assistant Commissioner of Insurance under the outstanding leadership of Insurance Commissioner Jim Long and to volunteer for him in his 2008 campaign for re-election.

This decision will give other Democrats the opportunity to consider being a candidate for Labor Commissioner, and to organize in advance of filing for that office in January.

More importantly, this decision allows me to give my priority support, time, and talents to State Representative Melanie Wade Goodwin as she seeks re-election to her third term in the General Assembly.

Having traversed this State a multitude of times over the last ten years, I assure you that we Democrats have an able array of candidates who will be able to run, win and serve as North Carolina’s next Labor Commissioner.

The Democratic nominee will run for the right reasons:

The Democratic nominee will fight for a Labor Commissioner who actually believes in the office and in representing the working people of this State, and actually stands for better wages and affordable healthcare.

The Democratic nominee will be a Labor Commissioner who is fair to both business owners and workers when matters come before the Department of Labor, and not be known as having prejudged matters coming before the Department.

The Democratic nominee will rightly argue that it is just plain wrong for us to have a Commissioner of Labor who is absent from the post for the most part, and who instead relies heavily upon unnecessary posting of both her photograph on every elevator and escalator in the State and gimmicky songs by erstwhile supporters on the Internet.

The Democratic nominee will say it is time to have the office return to its mission and to adapt more quickly to the 21st century.

The Democratic nominee will rightly contend that the office should not only stand up for workers, but also fight for small businesses to help them keep their workers comp rates low and being a part of the State’s team that brings and keeps jobs in this State, instead of claiming – like the current Labor Commissioner - that the office should have no role whatsoever.

With those Democratic candidates, I stand ready and willing to help in whatever way possible for those good and noble causes.

There is also another role in my future. Having raised more money than my opponents in every race I have run for the last 10 years, and with the specific insights gained from my 2004 statewide campaign, I fully understand how campaign fundraising can quickly turn into a “money chase” and poison the best of intentions of good candidates. To keep their campaigns viable, candidates are forced to seek large contributions from the very political action committees (PACs) fed by the industries the office sought regulates. Accordingly, I will continue my strong support for voluntary public financing of certain elections so that North Carolina will have fewer campaign finance scandals and fewer conflicts of interest, and more good candidates who actually represent the voters and not the special interests. To accomplish additional positive election reforms, I am pleased to have a more pronounced role as a member of the Board for the North Carolina Center for Voter Education.

Making the decision to forego a repeat run for Labor Commissioner was not easy.

It was not easy because of my passion for public service.

It was not easy because I believe we can do even better things with the office of Labor Commissioner.

It was also not easy because of the outpouring of support in 2004 and vibrant encouragement I have received since then to run in 2008.

As many Democrats statewide know, my involvement in and my commitment to politics – the art of the possible – and to good government will remain a prominent and integral part of my life. For example, I’ve already mentioned the N.C. CENTER FOR VOTER EDUCATION. Presently I also serve as Chairman of the EIGHTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT DEMOCRATIC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE and Chairman of the PLATFORM AND RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE of the North Carolina Democratic Party. Furthermore, upon recommendation of Speaker Joe Hackney, the General Assembly this month appointed me to serve on the E-NC AUTHORITY, a commission vital to rural North Carolina’s interest in creation and expansion of Internet-related jobs.

To my friends and supporters who have stressed for me not to give up, rest assured: I have not and will not.

Because of the satisfaction it provides my longing for public service, one day I do anticipate running again for elective office.

Until that time comes, I am confident that my life will be the calmest and most relaxing since before 1996 when first my name appeared on a public ballot.

For that, and for the dear family members, friends and supporters who have been with me all the way and made it possible, I am especially grateful.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my decision.

# # #

The above is the FULL text of the Goodwin statement. Out of respect for the growing role that BlueNC.com and blogging have in political discourse today, BlueNC had the exclusive first rights to post an excerpted version of this matter today. Check this site later for a video clip of the above statement.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sanford-Hunt Legacy Drives Future of Tar Heel Democrats

Sanford-Hunt Legacy Drives the Future of Tar Heel Democrats
By Wayne Goodwin, 26 Aug 2007

The State Executive Committee meeting yesterday in Greensboro was, once again, a celebration of what the North Carolina Democratic Party is about.

In addition to considering each of the recommended resolutions and action items (passing some, referring others back to committee, opposing others), Democrats from all across the Tar Heel State made much from their pilgrimage to Guilford County.

There we gathered, organized, rejoiced, reflected, and inspired.

We shared how our religious faith and values guide us in doing what we believe is right for North Carolina.

We learned about the growing intricacies of election laws, and witnessed what is driving our various candidates for 2008 to offer themselves up for public service.

And - as at last year’s Sanford-Hunt gala - many Democrats hoped to hear Governor Jim Hunt proclaim that he, once again, would be a candidate.

Alas, that last part was not meant to be.

Governor Hunt – personally and through the legacy of his leadership in education and emerging issues - has mentored a growing farm team for our State’s Democrats. Both that Hunt farm team and its accomplishments will expand as its candidates successfully seek the Governor’s Mansion and other Council of State positions next year, not to mention U.S. Senate and Congress, and inspire yet more folks to walk firmly in the footsteps of great leaders such as Terry Sanford.

Yes, our political party has many accomplishments of
which to be proud.

Those achievements will replicate as the Sanford-Hunt farm team continues to step up to the plate.

And, the home runs we Democrats will hit will far outlast those of Barry Bonds.

Truly, our best years are still to come.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

STATEWIDE REGIONAL TOWN MEETINGS SUCCESSFUL: Democrats Strident in Developing "Action Items"

Democrats Strident in Developing “Action Items”
18 August 2007

By Wayne Goodwin

Over the course of 4 weeks (July-Aug 2007) I trekked hither and yon across the Tar Heel State as part of my chairing eleven regional town hall meetings.

Under the aegis of Chairman of the Platform and Resolutions Committee for the North Carolina Democratic Party, I reviewed 190 resolutions submitted from Democrats with town hall attendees.

From a minimum of six to a maximum of 60+ attendees each, folks considered and deliberated and prioritized the proposed resolutions. These folks - some of the most diehard of Democratic activists mind you, and all willing to show up for 2+ hours each on a weeknight - contributed insightful comments to the process. For a non-Statewide election year the numbers pleased me. As a comparative barometer, attendance ranged from six to 125 in 2006.

So what was on the minds of Democrats in the Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh (twice), Wilmington, Windsor, and Winston-Salem regions this year?

►They are opposed to our current continued warring presence in Iraq.
►They love and fully support our military troops and their families.
►They yearn for America to regain its respect and position in the world.
►They believe the State must be a dedicated leader in firmly urging conservation, use of renewable non-fossil fuel sources, and developing a strategy shaped by the unquestionable process of global climate change.
►They demand campaign finance reforms and efforts that result in vastly-improved ethics in government.
►They declare that special interests and legislators should not strip away the rights of consumers by divesting the Commissioner of Insurance of his dual authority to maintain low insurance premiums and a viable insurance market in North Carolina.
►They believe that the Electoral College is antiquated and undemocratic in an age of 24-7 news and more-educated voters.
►They demand universal health care coverage.
►They assert that Congress and the People must seek impeachment charges against Vice President Cheney and President Bush (in that order) for their actions of the last six years, and that if impeachment proceedings are not appropriate now then the bar will be raised so high – or low, depending upon how you look at it – that the function of impeachment will have been rendered moot for generations to come. (Bluntly, if lying about consensual extramarital sexual relations is actionable, then why not lying about the cause of war – and consequential military deaths in Iraq - and subverting privacy rights of every American civilian and politicizing the U.S. Department of Justice?)
►They demand the repeal of the Patriot Act or significant revisions thereof.
►They believe in a living wage, and the right to collective bargaining by public employees.

These are a smattering of the issues tackled by authors of these resolutions, mostly adopted by county and district Democratic conventions this year. The ones referenced, above, were most prevalent.

If you would like to have an advance personal copy of the complete Resolutions compilation that will be considered at next Saturday’s meeting of the State Executive Committee meeting, then please email me at gwaynegoodwin@gmail.com, post an entry on my WAYNE’S WORLD blog (www.eighthdistrictdemsnc.blogspot.com), or call me at (910) 997-9790. The document will be posted also on the website of the NC Democratic Party this week. I plan on posting it myself at WAYNE’S WORLD by mid-week.

That document is the work product of the last meeting in Raleigh before the full P&R committee. During the 5+ hours that evening our committee - and those persons with us by phone - slogged through the process of determining which resolutions to recommend for adoption and which ones were duplicates, moot, in conflict with our Party Plan of Organization, etc. The investment of time of these persons proved vital.

We should also express our appreciation for the many other folks who participated in or assisted in the process. In addition to the town meeting attendees, these dedicated Democrats include Jerry Meek, Caroline Valand, Sallie Leslie, Jerimee Richir, all members of the P&R Committee, the county chairs who hosted each town hall meeting, and everyone who invested their time, talents and energy into drafting resolutions over the last six months. Special recognition goes out to Richard O’Brien of Randolph County who attended many of the regional town hall meetings across North Carolina this year and in the two previous years. Last, but certainly not least, I thank my family for granting me the time to work on this process again.

Personally, for someone passionate about what we stand for as Democrats, I found the 2,000 miles added to my car’s odometer and the cerebral connections with fellow partisans spanning North Carolina well worth the effort.

After all, resolutions allow us Democrats to express ourselves on the issues of the day - whether they concern our nation, our state or our own local community. Resolutions are ways to educate and inspire. But more importantly, they are also calls to action.

Let us now persuade our fellow citizens to answer these calls to action. Remember, the 2008 election and our future is in our hands. Onward and upward!

# # #

Friday, August 17, 2007

Al Gore to Enter Presidential race? Taiwan Newspaper Says Yes

The Taipei Times, in Taiwan, posted the following in its June 27, 2007 issue:

Al Gore visit postponed
Former US vice president Al Gore will not be able to make it to Taiwan this September to address the issue of global warming, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said yesterday. Tien, who invited Gore to visit Taiwan to promote awareness on global warming, told reporters yesterday that she received an e-mail from the Harry Walker Agency, which has the exclusive right to arrange Gore's speeches, saying that Gore had canceled all his scheduled events in the next six months. The visit to Taiwan had been postponed to next year, she added. Tien said the reason for the cancelation was that Gore was considering a presidential bid.

Is this item from the other side of the globe an unplanned heads-up, an erroneous miscommunication, or wishful thinking?

According to another political source, the alleged announcement date is between August 18 and 21. As I type this note, we're less than 30 minutes from that alleged window opening.

If Al Gore were to announce for President, then many Democrats I know (including many in my family and my circle of friends in the 8th District and around NC) will rise up and join Team Gore. He did, in fact and as you'd agree with me, win the 2000 race. And Americans love a come-back story. Coincidentally, we need his firm leadership more than ever on many issues - most especially on addressing climate change, repairing our foreign policy, and in regaining the world's respect for America.

Is a Gore candidacy still probable, or is it like the much-longed-for Beatles reunion forecast between 1971 and 1980 that never materialized despite all the rumors? In view of the celerity of the 2008 campaign already, is it too late for him?

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Madame Speaker? (and the political education of a toddler)

My almost 5-year-old daughter, Madison, visited the House chamber in the North Carolina General Assembly the day after adjournment. She found herself at home in Speaker Joe Hackney's chair and, as you can see by the accompanying photo, is already practicing to wield the gavel. Oh how she makes her parents proud!

Of course, for those who are familiar with Madison's occasional visits to legislative committees and the House floor with her mother, Rep. Melanie Wade Goodwin, Madison is often more intently listening and courteous during debate than many of the legislators. And she is certainly much better at coloring within the lines.

True story Number 1: Back when she was a tad over 3 years old, Madison frantically called her mother - with help from Grandma - on the telephone. Melanie had been in session all day. Madison, however, had been in preschool and had realized that her favorite baby doll had remained in the car which was parked underneath the Legislative Building. She exclaimed to her mother, without coaching - "Mommy, I am so sad. My baby has spent all day under the Legislature!" Hence, her first four-syllable word.

True story Number 2: Since the time she rode in her first parade several years ago with her Daddy and Mommy, Madison has a very simple yet appropriate answer to the question, "How do we vote, Madison?" ... "Vote Democratic, Daddy!" She has become quite popular at rallies with that one.

True story Number 3: One day during the 2006 legislative session I was escorting Madison around the Legislative Building and running various errands. We bumped into UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Moeser. Seeing an opportunity for her to ham it up, I immediately said to the Chancellor, "Watch this! ... Madison, how does that song go? " With my merely saying the first two words - "I'm a ..." she then ran with the rest of it and proceeded with her rendition of the Tar Heel fight song. With her early passion for all that is Carolina, I'm still hoping it might get her tuition waived.

True story Number 4: Melanie and I had it all planned ... name the baby "Madison" if a girl or "Jackson" if a boy. That's right, our child was going to have the name of a Democratic President no matter what. With no women elected President yet, we were quite limited in what to name our baby girl. (Though we did briefly consider "Eleanor", spouse of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.)

True story Number 5: I kid you not ... in what was a sure sign that she had been to too many political meetings, in October 2006 Madison was overheard telling someone "I support Larry Kissell because Robin Hayes took our jobs away!" Suffice it to say that all who heard our daughter - then a mere 4 years old - were stunned. Including her parents. Frankly, we didn't teach her that one. I didn't realize that nursery school focused on CAFTA quite yet. But, hey, if no child is going to be left behind then they need to know these things.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Meeting Sen. Barack Obama

About two months ago I had the opportunity to join a small group of North Carolina political activists at a Durham meeting with presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Barack Obama. Though I am prohibited from choosing sides in a Democratic primary because of my role as district chairman, it is vital to take opportunities to meet the candidates as they visit the Tar Heel State. The Illinois Senator, as expected, was very impressive and, also as expected, his 10-minutes of remarks were inspirational and informative. He was also quite pleased to know that he had won a plurality of a straw poll at the Richmond County Democratic Convention in April. Regardless of what candidate you have chosen, it is safe to say that Obama is a rising star.

What are your thoughts of the Senator? His opponents? His chances in the Eighth District and in North Carolina's May 2008 primary?

Open Thread for Eighth District News

This is an opportunity for Democrats to tell everyone what's on their mind or what's happening in their neck of the 8th District woods ...

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Democratic Lawmakers - a "Do Something", not "Do Nothing" Session

Let me go ahead and admit that I am understandably biased on this post: I'm a former Democratic House member who is married to an outstanding current Democratic House member, works in State government on the legislature's front lines, and serves in several roles in county, district and State party committees.

Instead of a bias, it is more accurate to say that those connections afford me an encyclopedia of more first-hand information than your casual observer, pundit or commentator.

So, consider the great accomplishments of the 2007 legislature, and its Democratic majorities in both chambers:

Enacted additional campaign finance reforms

Enacted reforms in legislative ethics and election law changes

Enacted another pilot public financing program for certain Statewide candidates

Enacted changes in State law that remove the burden of the Medicaid match from counties - (This measure is one I first began working on 10 years ago when only a handful of rural counties were pleading for the change; like many changes, it took time and the addition of a majority of other counties before there was change)

Enacted a high risk insurance pool

Adopted a $20 Billion state budget that provides more resources for education than ever before, and includes more options for counties in need of constructing more public schools

Enacted significant legislation regarding solid waste disposal and limiting the negative impacts of mega-dumps

Enacted legislation that makes NC a leader in energy conservation, promotion of alternative fuels, etc.

Enacted legislation that provides for greater access to public records

Enacted pay raises for State employees and educators

Enacted mental health parity legislation

Enacted legislation that helps combat rate evaders (i.e., the tens of thousands of out-of-state folks - mostly from New York and New Jersey - who fraudulently purchase automobile insurance in NC)

Adopted resolutions where the State formally apologized for slavery, the 1898 Wilmington race riot, and its eugenics program

... and many other positive initiatives.

Notwithstanding, many Republicans - or at least the highly-partisan, right-wingers - will decry the above and say that the 2007 session was a failure because it did not pass legislation seeking a Constitutional amendment against gay marriage. (There is already a statute on the books addressing this topic.)

Those same Republicans and some pundits have labeled this a "Do-Nothing" legislative session.

I beg to differ. If anything, the Democratic leaders in Raleigh made this a "Do Something" session. And they did it quite well.

Larry Kissell Continues His March to a 2008 Re-match

Filing for the 2008 Congressional elections does not begin for another five months or so, but that has not kept Larry Kissell and his team from advancing toward securing the nomination. Starting the day after the 2006 election results were final for the 8th District, ardent supporters in our 10 counties have been organizing more and more for the re-match between Larry and Robin Hayes. Stoking the flames of partisan passion for Kissell are a myriad of friends and bloggers from around the Nation who have rallied to the cause here in the 8th.

Several factors that will help Larry immensely in 2008, in my opinion and in no particular order:

He's more organized (as will be the county, district and state parties on his behalf once the nomination is secured).
He's right on the issues for the Eighth Congressional District, as he was in 2006.
He's raised much more campaign money early on than in his previous race.
He only lost to a 4-term incumbent in 2006 by 329 votes or so, a fact which shows Larry can win.
He has the adamant political and financial support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the strong support of the NC Democratic Party, which has highlighted Larry every chance it could at political events, rallies, and in the media for months and months.
He will be running in a Presidential election year when the Democrats nationally and in the State are leading in polls for the White House and the Governor's mansion.
He is running against a wounded Robin (Hayes) who is now in the minority party in Congress and can't rely as much on the largesse of the RNC or the RCCC or even the White House because of their minority status and the fact that President Bush is at an all-time record low level of support in the polls - which makes most Republicans around the country avoid even the mention of George W. Bush as they continue their march toward 2008.
And, he's just plain ol' Larry Kissell ... who hasn't changed a bit from the person who first filed in 2006.

Notwithstanding, there is the occasional rumor or blip on the radar screen that another Democrat may run as well. To date, no one has personally verified to me that he or she plans to file other than Larry. And until someone does, I will only reference Larry in blog posts about the 8th District.

My intuition tells me that Larry will be the nominee and in November 2008 he, like former Congressman Bill Hefner 34 years earlier, will defeat an incumbent GOP Congressman.