U.S Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland greets U.S. Senator Kay Hagan at an African American Summit meeting held in Raleigh.
U.S Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland greets U.S. Senator Kay Hagan at an African American Summit meeting held in Raleigh.
U.S Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland greets U.S. Senator Kay Hagan at an African American Summit meeting held in Raleigh.

By Afrique I. Kilimanjaro
Special to the NNPA from The Carolina Peacemaker

RALEIGH, N.C. – U.S. Senator Kay Hagan has been reaching out to communities and constituents across North Carolina galvanizing support for her re-election campaign. The Democratic Senator from North Carolina and her campaign are full steam ahead as they face Republican opponent, current N.C. Speaker of the House, Thom Tillis.

The Tillis campaign, according to Hagan, is being aided by $20 million in out of state advertising spending from conservatives such as Charles and David Koch, and Republican political strategist Karl Rove. The Hagan campaign says, these out of state entities “believe North Carolina’s Senate seats can be bought.”

Hagan, along with fellow Democrats in federal, state, county and city government, are spreading the word and sounding the alarm from Dare to Cherokee that the “Old North State is not for sale.” She is delivering this message to groups and communities across the state and recently hosted a summit with hundreds of members of North Carolina’s African American community last weekend in Raleigh.  According to campaign staffers, “The purpose of the summit was to help coordinate the efforts of the campaign with the power of the community leaders in attendance.”

Speakers included North Carolina’s U.S. Congressional Representatives G.K Butterfield and David Price, State Rep. and Congressional candidate Alma Adams and Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“Senator Kay is a bridge builder. This [election] is bigger than us,” proclaimed Cummings. He talked about growing up the son of two Pentecostal ministers who raised seven children, all of them college educated, on a domestic’s and laborer’s salary. He said that one must “never curse your journey because in the journey may be a lot of pain but that leads to your passion to fulfill your purpose.” Cummings told the audience, “There are consequences to our actions and our failure to act… [We] cannot turn the [U.S.] Senate over to Republicans. We must protect our progress and Sen. Hagan is the last line of defense.”

Cummings said that the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which North Carolina boasts of 11,  are extremely important and people must fight the threat to close campuses. “We’ve got to stand up for education,” said Cummings. “Terrorists are a major problem but the greatest threat to our national security is our failure to educate every single one of our children.”

Cummings said he came to North Carolina to support his friend and colleague Hagan because, “I need to be a part of something that is much bigger than me.” This race is about people, he added.   “We are here to feed our souls and we know we have a role in the destiny of this country.”

North Carolina is now less than 100 days from the 2014 midterm elections, which includes the North Carolina U.S. Senate race. “This election is a clear contrast between my work to put North Carolina first and Speaker Tillis who has shown he will pick the special interests over our families every single time,” said Hagan. “I’ve been proud to build a record of results for North Carolina families and my top priority has been jobs.”

A fired-up Rep. Adams told those gathered, “This U.S. Senate race is absolutely critical.” She said there is a fringe group of the Republican Party, led by House Speaker Tillis, that is not about empowering people and communities. “Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly, slashed $293 million from the 2013-14 education budget, making North Carolina 48th in education funding and 45th in teacher pay.” Republicans have also slashed unemployment benefits to people across the state from $500 a week for 26 weeks down to $300 per week for 14 weeks. The GOP also harmed residents by not accepting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, thus denying insurance coverage to 500,000 North Carolinians.

In discussing both he and Hagan’s ardent support of Medicaid expansion, Cummings said, “We can’t give more attention to the undertaker than to the doctor.”

“Republicans don’t give a damn about African Americans,” said Adams citing the General Assembly’s passage of VIVA, the Voter Information Verification Act, which consists of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation. Adams said she and her colleagues refer to the law as VIVA, the Voter Intimidation Vilification Act.

“We’ve got to turn this mutha out,” proclaimed Adams, who defeated six men to win the Democratic Primary for the 12th U.S. Congressional District seat, formerly held by Rep. Mel Watt . “[Governor] McCrory showed how he disrespected the people of the 12th District by holding no special election in the 12th at a special time, in a special way.” Adams was referring to the 12th Congressional seat being vacant after Watt took a position in the Obama administration as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

“This Ccngressional seat has been vacant since January sixth. By the time the congressional election is over, the 12th District  will have had no representation for 11 months,” explained Adams.

“The Republicans [in Raleigh] are drinking the same Washington tea and they’re all drunk with power,” said Adams. “We’ve got to gear up, fire up and cut up! Our community will stand to lose the most if we don’t stand now.”

“I’m not here to divide and conquer people, to borrow a phrase from speaker Tillis,” said Hagan. “I’m working to bring our state together and improve the lives of all North Carolinians.”

According to the Hagan campaign, the incumbent senator “has built a campaign that will include the largest turnout operation North Carolina has ever seen for a Senate race to ensure that North Carolinians from all of our diverse communities come out to vote in November.”


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