Michael Bitzer

Political Columnist

Dr. Michael Bitzer is an associate professor of politics and history at Catawba College, where he also serves as the 2011-2012 Swink Professor for Excellence in Classroom Teaching and the chair of the department of history & politics.  A native South Carolinian, he holds graduate degrees in both history and political science from Clemson University and The University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs. Dr. Bitzer’s studies have focused on Southern politics, campaigns and elections, and a variety of topics in American politics.

Now that we are entering the home stretch of the May primary election, we still seem to lack a true frontrunner in the GOP nomination contest for the U.S. Senate. 

While most polls show Thom Tillis, speaker of the NC House of Representatives, leading the field, the numbers across several different polls indicate a larger percentage of the potential electorate still has not made up their minds regarding the eight candidates.

“And so begins a critical period in American politics…that almost no one notices,” is the conclusion of a Brookings Institute report about primary elections in the United States.  A key finding is that in the past three midterms elections, turnout in congressional primaries has averaged 5.4%, 4.6% and 7.5% of the voting age population. 

For many, corruption in politics is a given. Those awarded with the public’s trust are always questioned in their motives. 

The allegations that Charlotte’s mayor, Patrick Cannon, was just in a long list of notable scandals and examples of political corruption: most recently, the mayors of Detroit and New Orleans were targets of the criminal justice system at the local level.

My previous post looked at what has become one of the key competitive races for a U.S. Senate seat, following the closing of the filing period. But it won’t be just the U.S. Senate seat that will be up for grabs in May and November, but also all 170 seats in the North Carolina General Assembly. Or so one would think.

In looking at the candidate filing and the past voting patterns of the district lines under the new maps, the overall contest for North Carolina’s state legislature really won’t be as competitive as most would expect. 

The eight Republican U.S. Senate candidates who hope to take on Sen. Kay Hagan in the fall can be divided into three tiers.

Typically, we would consider “top tier” candidates who have run and held public office before, meaning they have financial resources, campaign organization, and some name recognition.

­With the debt ceiling vote now behind the House GOP caucus, the consensus seems to be that the Speaker of the House surrendered yet another confrontation to the president. 

In doing so, the Speaker had to use the votes of all but two Democrats, along with 28 of his own party’s members, to secure the needed votes to pass a clean debt ceiling measure. 

Following the 2012 presidential defeat, Republicans sought to rebrand their image.  In a 100-page report, entitled the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” a series of recommendations were made, most notably about the messaging that the party sends to the electorate. 

Clay Aiken’s announcement to run in the Democratic primary and to ultimately face U.S. Representative Renee Ellmers in the state’s second congressional district certainly has gained the media’s attention.

However, that's likely all he will gain.

Yes, with his “American Idol” fame, Aiken certainly has name recognition.

The power of the presidency has been described as “the power to persuade,” but how presidents use that persuasion, not just within the government but also with the nation as a whole, can be a determining factor in their successful use of leadership.

In a recent report, a bi-partisan presidential commission provided several recommendations regarding how Americans vote and promoting “confidence in the administration of U.S. elections.”

Chaired by a Democrat and a Republican, the commission focused its recommendations on the voter registration, poll access, polling place management and voting technology.

Pages