Pam Spaulding

Liveblog with NC U.S. Senate candidate (and out gay man) Jim Neal

Filed By Pam Spaulding | November 12, 2007 6:07 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Elizabeth Dole, Jim Neal, LGBT, North Carolina, U.S. Senate

I've been telling folks why it's time to boot Senator Elizabeth Dole out of office for some time now. Never mind that I don't agree with her politics -- she's simply not doing the job she was elected to do -- represent and take care of the people of North Carolina. She's been inaccessible, no one seems to know when or if she's ever here (or on the Senate floor for that matter); her constituent services are rock bottom. The fact that she votes to affirm the interests of the Bush Administration is just rancid icing on the cake.

Just a few more reasons why Elizabeth Dole must go:

* Traditional marriage is something Republicans will defend. (Aug 2004)
* Freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. (Aug 2004)
* For school prayer & 10 Commandments in schools. (Oct 1999)
* Voted YES on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration. (Jun 2006)
* Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006) 

In October Chapel Hill businessman and Dem fundraiser Jim Neal took questions from the North Carolina progressive community on BlueNC online town hall. It was there that he was asked about his sexual orientation. He disclosed it in a very matter-of-fact manner.

I've heard ...
Submitted by omega_star on Sat, 10/20/2007 -- 10:09am.
I've heard you're gay ...

Gay
Submitted by JimNeal on Sat, 10/20/2007 -- 10:18am.
I am indeed. No secret and no big deal to me -- I wouldn't be running if I didn't think otherwise.

The question asked frequently these days is whether a progressive, let alone an openly gay or lesbian politician can be elected to the U.S. Senate from North Carolina. Jim Neal says he can. The party establishment, however, didn't seem equipped or publicly ready to deal with the fact that you were the only challenger out there, despite heavy attempts to recruit others to run (Congressman Brad Miller, State Rep. Grier Martin). The historic news that an openly gay man was running for the U.S. Senate, from a Southern state no less, was nowhere to be found on the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee web site, the state party was MIA. The local media coverage, in contrast, was fair and uncontroversial.

Jim Neal stopped by Pam's House Blend last night to do his first forum ever on an LGBT blog. It was a whirlwind hour of Q&A.

As liveblogging is a virtual speed session, and Jim Neal was peppered with a ton of questions on a wide range of issues -- not just LGBT ones -- I corrected typos for this summary.

On the treatment of veterans, and Dole's horrible record of supporting the troops:
No doubt-- Washington is doing a shameful, repugnant job of honoring our veterans when they come home: be it underfunding the VA or not supporting expanded educational and training opportunities. That makes me damned mad-- and I won't accept it once I'm in the Senate. The people of this State and this nation deserve so much better.

The role of blogs and the reaction of average NC citizens to his candidacy:
The blogosphere and social networking sites are changing the face of the political process. They provide a voice and power to those often ignored b/c they didn't have the big $ to get the attention of politicians. They are the future.

Average people have been incredible-- (whatever "average" means :-) )-- I've received tons of letters and encouragement from people all across this state. They want change.

What North Carolinians are looking for in a Senator:
North Carolinians-- like the rest of the USA-- are fed up with professional [politicians. They are disillusioned-- the approval ratings for the Dem Party is below that of the President. They want leaders who offer real solutions to the war, economic security and rising health care costs.

Some Washington insiders think I should get out of the race-- but my opponents don't have the advantage I do of genuine outsider status. I'm not a politician and I'm proud of that. It's my strong suit-- but it makes me more dependent on the financial support of people just like all of you-- be it big or small dollars.

I've had to balance and draw up budgets for small and big businesses. I've worked in the private sector and not inside a political bubble. We have to spend within our means-- and this Administration and its political enablers like Mrs. Dole in the Congress don't have a clue as to how to do that.

On Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
I oppose and have always opposed "don't ask don't tell." It's ludicrous. The young servicemen and servicewomen with whom I have spoken have had one consistent response: "I don't care who serves so long as they've got my back."

On marriage equality:
If a church wants to marry people they can; if they don't they don't have to do so. I oppose all forms of discrimination-- institutional or otherwise-- by the government.

On whether homosexuality as a political wedge is losing its edge:
t has been in the past. I'm not running to lose-- and as I've said before I have faith in the good people of this State to not be fooled by non-issues such as whether a candidate is a man or a woman, gay or straight, black or white, blonde-headed or red-headed. So-- get involved and prove the fearmongerers wrong.

His view of the Senate's role in the confirmation process of Supreme Court justices, as it's likely that there will be Supreme Court retirements and the court may rule on marriage equality as cases making their way there:
Members of the Senate-- and mind you that CJ Roberts and Justice Alito were confirmed by the GOP majority at the time-- have done an abysmal job in vetting judicial candidates. We are appointing activist judges---not prudent and thoughtful jurists.

On the role of the DSCC in the primary, which worked hard with local pols to recruit a primary challenger to run against Neal after he disclosed his sexual orientation. He had been the sole candidate up until that point.
The DSCC doesn't vote in North Carolina. We have elections and primaries and not coronations. That's why it's critical to raise the funds to compete in a statewide race. I don't expect all the big DSCC supporters to write $2,300 checks but I hope you and others will help grow this movement by involving your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers.

You can read more of Jim's answers over at the Blend.

***

In a race that may take $15 million to win (and the GOP is going to pour money in to save Liddy's posterior), Neal needs support not only from North Carolinians -- this is a race that will garner national attention. Jim's shooting for 1,000 donations and 1,000 new members to his Facebook page in the next 10 days.

-- Jim Neal's official campaign web site.
-- Jim Neal's ActBlue contribution page.
-- Jim Neal for Senate Facebook group.

The archive of Pam's House Blend Jim Neal posts is here.


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