11/15/06 — Revote? It is surprising there is even a question in Black race

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Revote? It is surprising there is even a question in Black race

The results are in, kind of, in the race between Speaker of the N.C. House of Representatives Jim Black and his Republican challenger, Hal Jordan.

It seems nearly 450 votes were cast that should not have been filed in the hotly contested race, which Black currently leads by the slimmest of margins — seven votes.

Because no one is sure what happened — and the oblivious glitch could cast doubt on the legitimacy of a very controversial race, state officials are considering a revote, just to be sure.

And while the news that there was some kind of unusual circumstance surrounding the speaker’s re-election bid should come as no real surprise considering the strange year this has been for the speaker, there is one fact that should shock just about every North Carolinian who is following the story.

This is a very close election for an incumbent who has spent much of the year answering questions about his ethics.

The real question is, “Why was it even close?”

After months of investigation, many, many questions about Black and those he has been dealing with concerning the North Carolina Lottery, among others, the race for the 100th District seat should really have been a landslide — for change.

It is surprising that those concerns did not seem to worry enough of Black’s constituents, especially in light of the fact that so many voters across the country decided to turn out their congressmen and senators.

Voters talk all the time about wanting to trust their politicians. They run from a candidate with questionable ethics in most cases — even when those questions are unproven allegations.

So, why, with so many doubts and so many subpoenas for Black and those associated with him, would anyone decide to cast a vote in his column?

That is a mystery indeed.

If Black does get back into office, which he just might, the Democratic leadership needs to think carefully about what role he will play in the future of the General Assembly — now and until the ethics investigations are complete.

It is not doing North Carolina any good to be mired in court testimony that suggests that there is a reason to doubt Black’s ethics. And new leadership would make that discussion less of a focus as the legislature prepares to get back to work.

There comes a time when a tough decision needs to be made. If Black is re-elected, this will be it.

Published in Editorials on November 15, 2006 11:26 AM