RALEIGH — North State Journal caught up with North Carolina’s most influential “invisible man,” Jim Blaine, for a chat about some of the current political news.
On the 3rd Congressional seat recently left open by the passing of Walter Jones, Blaine said it was too early to say who the final field will be and he is curious to see who files on the Democratic side. Blaine mentioned Democrats Don Davis and Allen Thomas, the mayor of Greenville, as possible candidates.
“There are some potentially-credible Democratic candidates in this special election where you’ve got this weird dynamic there where even though that district favors Republicans, it’s not an overwhelming sure thing in that district,” said Blaine.
The conversation shifted to the NC-09 hearings and the long hours of testimony with no shortage of bombshells.
“I mean, the way it’s been going…It’s just like, every time you don’t think your jaw can get any further down on the floor, it does,” Blaine said about the hearings.
“It’s apparent to me that the state elections board has known that area of the state — in particular Bladen County — has been a problem for a while,” said Blaine. “And the big question to me is why haven’t they done anything about it? And I’m not buying the ‘oh, we just couldn’t quite get it done’ excuse. It sounds like the problems were so out in the open. Everything going on was being done in broad daylight.”
On the 2020 governor’s race, Blaine said he assumed there would be primary challengers on the GOP side, but questioned how “meaningful” those challenges would be.
Blaine’s former boss, Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger, has been floated as a possible challenger to Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who announced his exploratory committee last month. Blaine said that he hadn’t talked to Berger about it recently.
National politics used to trickle down to the state level in obvious ways, but Blaine says the big shifts in past elections just aren’t there right now.
“I don’t think there are many swing voters left,” said Blaine. “I don’t see any party running away with any elections anywhere on the ticket. I mean, I think you’re talking about 3 or 4-point races in every statewide election.”
“The biggest thing I’m watching is …what’s interesting to me is what Democrat emerges to run for U.S. Senate,” said Blaine. “I think that’s the big, unanswered political question out there in North Carolina right now. Who is going to take on Thom Tillis?”
In terms of his new consulting business with Ray Martin called The Differentiators, Blaine said their focus right now was on corporate work, but didn’t rule out working for a campaign if the “right local opportunity came along.”
Blaine said issues like the current regulatory environment, tax code, healthcare and education are topics they are frequently asked about.
Personally, Blaine is enjoying life with his wife and young daughters. When asked how he was fairing surrounded by women at home, Blaine laughed.
“I tell everybody — Neville Chamberlain at home. Peace at any price,” Blaine said.