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The Big Dog has been helping raise serious campaign cash for red state Democrats like Alison Lundergan Grimes (D. KY) and Senator Mark Pryor (D. AR), but could he also help out another red state Democrat facing a tough election year?

Former President Bill Clinton was on the campaign trail for Democrats last week, raising the question of whether one of the country’s most popular leaders will bring his political skills to North Carolina on behalf of embattled U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.

“President Clinton remains very popular all across the country and we are thrilled that he is helping us out so far and hope he will continue to,” said Justin Barasky, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

With his Arkansas twang and Bubba image, Clinton has always had appeal in the South. He’s also firmly rooted – like Hagan – in his party’s centrist tradition, has enjoyed support from independents and has long been extremely popular among African-Americans, who accounted for nearly a quarter of the North Carolina vote in the 2012 presidential race, according to exit polls.

Although Clinton didn’t carry North Carolina in either of his presidential victories in 1992 and 1996, and battled scandal and impeachment while in office, the 42nd president today is popular not only among Democrats, but the public at large. A Fox News Poll last April put his favorability rating at 71 percent.

He also brings a knack for down-to-earth talk and fundraising power.

“People will open their wallets for him,” said Thomas Mills, a North Carolina Democratic consultant.

Moreover, in barbecue- and college basketball-crazy North Carolina, he has some shared affections.

“I would think North Carolina would be prime turf for him,” said Marc Farinella, a Democratic strategist who managed President Barack Obama’s successful 2008 campaign in the Tar Heel state. “I’m not running Kay Hagan’s campaign, but if I were, I would certainly want him to be there.”

Hagan’s campaign says that there’s nothing scheduled for Clinton now. Aides to the former president expect him to have a busy campaign schedule in 2014 but would not discuss his future political travels.

Fighting what’s likely to be a tough battle for a second term, Hagan has said she’d welcome Obama to campaign for her but hasn’t said anything more about that lately. - News Observer, 3/1/14

Hagan could use Clinton's help for sure.  She's been fighting back against her presumed opponent, State Speaker Thom Tillis (R. NC) and the GOP's attacks for supporting the Affordable Care Act:

Senator Hagan released the following statement to ABC11: "When this law was written, we established a three-year transition period so that insurance companies had time to begin offering plans that met the requirements of the law for the 5 percent of people on the individual market. As I've made clear, I didn't know that some insurance companies would use that transition period to sell outdated plans without fully notifying consumers that they would no longer be available in 2014. But as soon as it came to my attention last fall when I heard from constituents who felt blindsided by the fact that their plans were no longer available, I immediately did something about it, signing onto a bill to let people keep their plans permanently.

"I am working to fix this bill to make it better for North Carolina, and it is Thom Tillis who is not answering questions or being honest about what he would do to people's health care. Speaker Tillis would let insurance companies discriminate against preexisting conditions, charge women more for care and make seniors pay more for prescription drugs. Speaker Tillis is misleading North Carolinians about where I stand, because he knows he can't defend his own position." - ABC 11, 3/1/14

By the way, Tillis has been having a hard time explaining his stance on the health care law:

North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis says he supports some good ideas in Obamacare but opposes the law overall.

"Well, you know, the focus of the attacks ads is 'Thom Tillis is against having some sort of safety net for preexisting conditions, and for kids under 26 years old being on their [parents'] policy," Tillis, the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, told TWCN. "Republicans have made those proposals before. It's not about that. It's not about everything else in Obamacare that doesn't work. So we do need health care reform. We don't need something as large and complex and costly as the Affordable Care Act because it can't work."

In the interview, flagged by the Washington Post's Greg Sargent, Tillis was asked if he supports an Obamacare replacement bill offered by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), and he wouldn't say.

"Republicans do need to communicate that we agree that there are serious health care issues among the American people that we need to solve," he said. "But we need to do it in a way that's sustainable, that's prudent, and that doesn't put other programs like Medicare at risk."

The remarks illustrate the fine line Republicans are walking now that Obamacare has taken effect. They want to support the popular parts of the law, such as protections for sick people and children, but without the unpopular parts that fund them and make them sustainable. And they're pressured to toe the official party line of full repeal. They lack unity on a replacement proposal, and most don't want to take unambiguous policy positions. - TPM, 2/20/14

That's going to be tough for Tillis to explain to GOP voters as faces off in a tough primary battle for his party's nominee:

The majority of the Republican primary candidates, including Brannon and Mark Harris, want an unconditional repeal and offer few – if any – ideas about a replacement.

Tillis, too, supports a repeal. But his language is more nuanced than his rivals.

“If Obamacare could be repealed I’d vote for it,” he said recently.

Brannon, a Cary obstetrician, believes that the federal government should not provide health coverage because it is not delineated in the U.S. Constitution. Instead, he said the issue should be left to each state, though he did not provide specifics about how he would address rising health care costs.

“As a doctor, I can tell you, the solution is to get government out of the way and allow for free market competition, which will cause quality to go up and prices to go down,” he said.

Harris supports abolishing the law, calling it “Obama’s takeover of America’s health care system” and declaring it a “disaster.”

“If I am elected, I will vote to repeal it and defund it at every opportunity,” Harris said in a statement. “It is time for Republicans in Washington to stop talking about how they want to repeal and defund Obamacare and stand up and lead the fight to do so.”

Harris said he supports expanding health savings accounts, cracking down on frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits and allowing the purchase of health care insurance across state lines.

“I support common sense, free-market solutions that do not involve creating a bigger, more bloated federal government,” he said. - Charlotte Observer, 2/26/14

By the way, Tillis recently made himself look like a bigger asshole:

U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis on Wednesday said he opposes President Barack Obama’s plan to increase the federal minimum wage, calling it a “dangerous idea.”

The Republican went even further to suggest government shouldn’t set a minimum wage, labeling it an “artificial threshold.”

“I have serious concerns with the discussion around minimum wage because it drives up costs and it could harm jobs,” Tillis said after making his bid official at the State Board of Elections in Raleigh. “Obviously we want people to be paid a wage that could help make ends meet, but when you increase artificially the cost of labor to do a job, then often times those jobs will just go away.”

Obama has proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2015. An estimated one in five North Carolina workers make the current minimum wage ($7.25 an hour), according to a report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

Asked what he considered a living wage, Tillis dodged. He pivoted to say private industry ought to answer the question. - Charlotte Observer, 2/26/14

Then again, it shouldn't be surprising that Tillis would be against raising the minimum wage, considering who back him:

Republican Thom Tillis is poised to get huge financial support from a new political group – but while it could boost him in a potential general election contest against Democrat Kay Hagan, it may become an issue in the GOP primary.

Led by New York billionaire and GOP donor Paul Singer, a group known as the American Opportunity Alliance has created a fundraising committee called the Friends for an American Majority. It will bring together major donors, many of whom “share Singer’s support for gay rights, immigration reform and the state of Israel,” according to a Politico report.

Singer donated about $10 million to gay rights groups since 2010, the D.C. publication reported. He also supports the Club for Growth, another conservative political group.

Tillis is one of four U.S. Senate GOP hopefuls that the group intends to support and the House speaker is expected to attend a two-day retreat at a posh Colorado resort at the end of February. - News Observer, 2/19/14

Of course Tillis still has to overcome his primary battle with his Tea Party opponents:

Right off the top, Brannon takes a shot at GOP frontrunner Thom Tillis, showing a blackened picture of the House speaker and the words “fed up with career politicians.”

An announcer labels Brannon “a tea party leader who cherishes the intent of the founders, the sovereignty of the state, the liberty of the people and the clear meaning of the Constitution.”

If elected, he pledged to work with Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz to “repeal Obamacare, end unconstitutional spying, stop the tax borrow and spend madness and restore respect for the constitution.” - News Observer, 2/11/14

Brannon has the backing of Senator Rand Paul (R. KY), FreedomWorks and Glenn Beck. But Brannon has his own problems:

Dr. Greg Brannon, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, has failed to file an ethics disclosure form required by federal law and Senate rules.

Candidates for Senate are responsible for filing the "financial disclosure reports" withing 30 days of "becoming a candidate." A lawyer for the Senate Ethics Committee says someone becomes a candidate when he or she raises or spends $5,000 toward a campaign. Candidates must continue to file annual reports for as long as they remain candidates.

Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show that Brannon crossed the $5,000 threshold sometime in the first three months of 2013.

The ethics form details sources of income, stock ownership and other entanglements that candidates for Senate have with businesses that may be affected by the laws Congress hands down. Brannon's report does not appear online, and a clerk for the U.S. Senate's public records office told WRAL News Tuesday night that there was no record of the Cary obstetrician filing one.  - WRAL, 2/26/14

There's also this:

U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon owes two investors in his failed startup company more than $250,000 after a jury found Tuesday that he provided them bogus information about a potential deal.

The political cost remains unknown.

In the verdict, the 12-person jury decided Brannon bore sole responsibility for giving misleading or false information in 2010 to investors regarding a mobile application being developed by Neogence Enterprises, a now-defunct tech company he helped start.

The jury cleared a second defendant, Robert Rice, the company’s co-founder and former CEO.

Brannon slumped his head and looked downward as the verdict was read in Wake County Superior Court. As he left the courthouse, Brannon said he would appeal to “defend my integrity.”

“Very clearly I think that the way the court worked, it was not fairly on our side,” Brannon said. “I cannot wait to go to the appeal process.”

An appeal means the case will continue to color his underdog campaign for the Republican nomination. But the tea party candidate – who appeared by phone on conservative firebrand Glenn Beck’s radio show while jurors deliberated down the hallway – said the verdict won’t affect his campaign.

“No way,” he said. “I’m not stopping.” - The Cary News, 2/18/14

And this:

Dr. Greg Brannon, a Cary obstetrician, and his wife owed $8,779.19 on the home they live in in Cary, according to the Wake County tax records.

Brannon is one of five Republicans who have announced or filed to run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.

A check of the county tax department systems in their home counties shows that Hagan and Republicans state House Speaker Thom Tillis, Rev. Mark Harris, nurse Heath Grant and former Shelby Mayor William Alexander are current on their property tax bills.

In general, North Carolina property tax bills are due at the end of September. However, interest and penalties don't begin to accrue until the first week of January.

Wake County property tax records put the value of Brannon's house at $968,278. - WRAL, 2/18/14

So yeah, we'll see how far Brannon gets.  The other big GOP candidate, Rev. Mark Harris also has some big backing:

Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has endorsed Charlotte pastor Mark Harris in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

“He’s a true conservative who will join us in fighting against the status quo in Washington,” Huckabee said in a statement. “Americans are looking for leaders who they can trust to place their oath of office above partisan politics by fighting for the Constitution and standing up for what they believe in.

“Mark is the right choice for conservatives and Republicans in North Carolina.”

Both Huckabee and Harris are Baptist ministers. Harris is pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church.

Huckabee is expected to campaign in North Carolina for Harris ahead of the May 6 primary. He could help Harris energize support among social conservatives in the six-way primary. - Charlotte Observer, 1/16/14

With a crowded primary and a crazy conservative base, this guy could also cause some problems for the GOP:

Four years ago, then-Republican Tim D’Annunzio first ran for Congress in a controversial 8th District campaign.

Now the Hoke County businessman is back – as a Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate. He faces a rare Libertarian primary with longtime party activist Sean Haugh.

In 2008 D’Annunzio ran as Republican in the district represented by Democrat Larry Kissell. He first made headlines with a “Machine-Gun Social” fundraiser, an event that included a raffle prize of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

D’Annunzio, a self-made millionaire, spent more than a half-million dollars on the race. At one point, only four congressional candidates in the country had spent more.

Few candidates were as outspoken. On his blog, he called President Barack Obama, Sen. Kay Hagan and other Democrats “liberal leftist God haters.” Strongly anti-abortion, he invoked Hitler in attacking the president’s support of abortion rights. “Obama,” he wrote, “will be responsible for killing many more people.”

He had little love for reporters, whom he described as “demon beasts.” - Charlotte Observer, 2/27/14

But whoever wins the GOP nominee will have Art Pope and the Koch Brothers backing and Hagan has been getting ready to take them on:

“The people in North Carolina are not going to let the billionaire Koch brothers buy this seat,” Hagan said on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” on Wednesday night.

POLITICO reported Wednesday that the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity has already spend $8.2 million against Hagan’s reelection in her state.

ut Hagan said Wednesday that the priorities of the group are not aligned with the needs of her constituents and they won’t be “fooled.”

“My state, as you said, is being flooded with millions of dollars, funded by outside interest groups,” Hagan said. “They’ve opposed the bipartisan farm bill that is extremely important to the agricultural sector in my state. They opposed the bipartisan budget bill that turned off sequestration. At the same time, they’ve gotten tax cuts for the wealthy and put that burden on 80 percent of the middle-class families, increasing their taxes. These are not policies that North Carolinians want, and they’re not going to be fooled by this outside money.”

A key part of the barrage against Hagan and other Democratic senators that Republicans perceive as vulnerable in 2014 is tying them to Obamacare, something Hagan defended.

“The people in North Carolina have the fifth-highest signup on the exchanges, after Florida, New York, California and Texas, it’s North Carolina, so they’re very interested in this,” Hagan said. “We want to show that the Affordable Care Act is something whose time has come. It’s going to really change how the cost of health care will not have these huge increases that we’ve been seeing every year.” - Politico, 2/13/14

If you want to donate or get involved with Hagan's campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:53 PM PST.

Also republished by North Carolina BLUE, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, and DKos Asheville.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I hope Clinton has the energy (3+ / 0-)

    He can make a difference for Southern Democrats.

    KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

    by fcvaguy on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:56:12 PM PST

  •  I still think she's going to win this one, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    probably with room to spare.  She's a hell of a campaigner, and if she was able to reduce Liddy Dole to a smoking pile of rubble, surely she'll be able to do the same against any of the hucksters running against her this time around.

    Stuck in PA-3. Let's defeat "Mike" Kelly and Tom Corbett in 2014!

    by JBraden on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:32:49 PM PST

  •  Bill Clinton won Kentucky ... (0+ / 0-)

    ... in both the '92 and '96 elections while losing North Carolina twice.  Granted, NC seems to have transitioned to a more purple state in the intervening years, but I'm not sure he would be as big a net voter attraction in NC as in KY.

    Fundraising tho, hell ya!

    Campaigning in North Carolina for Kay Hagan may also help to set the stage for Hillary's run in 2016.  (I think most anything that Bill does in this election cycle must be viewed at least in part through that prism.)

    Bill also won in Arkansas and Louisiana both terms, so the same question, (could he be of help?), can apply to Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor as well.

  •  ya know (0+ / 0-)

    in 2008 my wife worked really hard for HRC... yesterday she got a "Hey give to me" from her campaign.   Judy said .."Not this time!"

    ya know...this summer will be 40 years...and she has proven right 90% of the time... so jist sayin' if she says "Not this time"  ... well that matters..
    Saturday night dance

    "If you can't dance etc...."

  •  oh yeah (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    at what point...given the reality of of Clinton administration can we move beyond " Don't stop thinking about tomorrow"

      Clinton and his wife really pissed of Republicans because they out Republicaned the Republicans...

    C' our work lifetimes.. ..we have been around ..ah lets say "males" who have been called "Big dog"...
    Ya wanna see "Big Dog?" Go see Wolf of Wall Street.."
    that is fucking
    Bill Clinton...\

    If HRC is our Dem nominee? ..I don't want to hear about Ralph "fuckin" N when The Bush SCOTUS decides the 2016 election...

    Ashes..ashes..we all fall down

  •  I dunno (0+ / 0-)

    There are a still a lot of pockets here in NC in which Clinton is deeply unpopular. Even among some folks who vote for the Democratic Party.

    Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

    by moviemeister76 on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:23:27 PM PST

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