Sen. Kay Hagan is not in an enviable position. (Really, no Democrat who has to run statewide in North Carolina is.)
Six years ago, Hagan pulled off a surprise and impressive victory, picking off Republican Goliath Liddy Dole. She will ask North Carolinians for a second term this November, but even the senator’s own camp concedes that the battle is steeply uphill. Polls and pundits have identified Hagan as one of the most vulnerable senators in the nation. With the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate hanging by a thread, Republicans are pouncing hard, labeling Hagan as everything but a child of the Almighty.
Outside money is pouring into the state – much of it from the deep pockets of the vile Koch brothers – to keep the anti-Hagan machine well-oiled.
The Hagan campaign, citing a New York Times report, claimed earlier this month that the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity has already funded more than 3,500 ads criticizing her for voting for Obamacare. By contrast, Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat who also faces a reelection fight this year down in Louisiana, has contended with just a mere 1,424 Koch-backed smear ads.
One of Hagan’s strategies appears to be keeping her distance from President Obama. She was a no-show at the president’s Jan. 15 event at N.C. State University. Hagan said she was tied-up in Washington with Senate business. She gave that same reason last year when she was not by the president’s side when he visited the Charlotte area.
The Republican Party has gleefully pointed out that in pre-reelection season, Hagan stood happily by the president’s side whenever he visited the Tarheel State – even on days when the Senate was in session.
On the day of the president’s recent visit, the state Republican Party sent out an e-scrapbook of sorts – myriad images of a grinning Hagan side-by-side with President Obama in North Carolina. Though many of the photos were snapped prior to Nov. 4, 2008 – meaning Obama was not yet president and Hagan wasn’t a U.S. senator – the point was clear. Among the legitimate photos are one of Hagan and former Gov. Bev Perdue welcoming President Obama to Greensboro in 2010 and one of Hagan and Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy walking behind the president as he waves to supporters. Our favorite (shown here) shows Hagan greeting the president in the summer of 2011 at Raleigh-Durham International Airport as if he is her long-lost best friend. We think Republicans will use this photo especially to their advantage – Hagan euphorically in the arms of the enemy. Scandalous!
Citing a recent Gallop poll, the Los Angeles Times reported that President Obama’s North Carolina approval rating is 43 percent. It’s not great, but last we checked, it’s higher than those of the governor and our current mean-spirited General Assembly.
African Americans – mindful that many of the issues critics have with the president have little to do with Obamacare or other policy issues – have stood steadfastly by his side. Hagan’s reelection blues will only be compounded if black voters begin to question why she can’t do the same.