Friday, September 2, 2011

GOP jostling and the Chamber "endorsement"

There may not be a school board primary,  but the GOP held a de facto selection process Thursday night to winnow four Republican candidates into a three-person slate.

Political newcomer Scott Babbidge eventually bowed out,  clearing the way for the party to endorse Tom DavisTim Morgan and Ken Nelson for the three at-large seats on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board.  Parties aren't listed on the ballot,  and last time around, voters chose a Republican,  a Democrat and an independent.  But the GOP likes to have a slate to promote to voters.

This year's slate  is hardly united.

Morgan,  who now represents District 6,  says he's in it to ensure that the board's current reform plan continues,  even as CMS seeks a new superintendent.  The other Republicans are taking more of a "shake things up" tack.

In his withdrawal statement,  Babbidge took a shot at Morgan for "jeopardizing his current seat" ( actually, if Morgan loses the at-large race he keeps the seat)  and refusing to make way for three additional Republicans, "further solidifying that his motives are more about himself and his own political aspirations than serving our community."  He personally endorsed Davis,  Nelson and independent Keith Hurley.

Davis says the word went out in June, even before candidates began filing, that the Charlotte Chamber had announced endorsements for the board,  including Tim Morgan,  brother of Chamber President Bob Morgan. "It's not fair for the people that have got all the money in downtown Charlotte to say,  'These are the people we want on the board.' "

Davis's account is only partly correct,  says Natalie English,  the chamber's public policy executive.  As Davis reports,  chamber member Pat Riley did tell others on the chamber's June trip to Seattle that he thought Morgan and Elyse Dashew would represent the chamber's interests well.  Riley added that it would be good to have a "candidate of diversity" representing the county,  English said.

But that's not an official chamber endorsement,  she added.  The chamber hasn't had a PAC or made endorsements in years.  Individual members have thrown their weight behind candidates,  but they aren't unanimous, English said:  "If there were such a thing as a chamber slate, it would be more like five people."

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