It was nothing more than a slip of the tongue, I suppose. Chris Mintz, running for the Democratic nomination in N.C. House District 41, told the Wake County Democratic Convention Saturday that he expected to “ruffle a few feathers when I joined the Republican Party, but….”
Mintz, until December the chairman of the Wake Republican Club, meant to say that he’d joined the Democratic Party, after which he immediately announced himself as the “moderate” alternative to Ty Harrell, the Democrat candidate already in the House 41 race, on the one hand, and to ultra-conservative Russell Capps, the Republican incumbent, on the other.
That did more than ruffle feathers, especially when Mintz, an investment manager with enough money to lend his own campaign $100,000, started sending out slick mailers that depicted him as an uber-family man with nothing but the public’s interest at heart.
What it did, in fact, was send Democratic activists to the record books in search of evidence that Mintz was no moderate, and maybe not a Democrat either.
It didn’t take long for them to discover Mintz’s own press release, given out last June after he’d graduated from a course at the N.C. Institute of Political Leadership (NCIOPL). “Chris Mintz is a conservative Republican,” it said, and went on to note his support for organizations “such as” the N.C. Family Policy Council, the Wake Taxpayers Association, the Jesse Helms Center Foundation, the John Locke Foundation, and so on and so forth down a list of groups that are anything but moderate.
Then they found the online column written by Frank Williams, who was vice chairman of the Wake Republicans when Mintz quit as chair and announced in the same breath that he was joining the Democrats.
Williams declared it “bizarre” that Mintz, who’d always told him he was against abortion rights and in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, was joining a party that is predominantly pro-choice on abortion and was stopping the General Assembly from even considering the gay-marriage issue.
What’s more, Williams said, Mintz’s stated reason for leaving the Republicans–essentially, that they’re too focused on the social issues and not enough on economics–“simply doesn’t add up” given his rhetoric, and record, as a Republican.
The real reason he left, Williams wrote, was Mintz’s “out-of-control ambition and a consuming desire to be elected to office.”
Mintz knew that Capps was considering not running for re-election, and had already penciled himself in as the Republican nominee, Williams said. So when Capps changed his mind, Mintz was steamed and decided to go after the Democratic nomination instead.
At which point he changed not just his party affiliation but his positions on the social issues too, according to Williams, begging the question whether Mintz believes anything he says, or just tries “to win favor with the people he’s talking to at the moment.”
On Saturday, Mintz insisted to me that Williams was wrong. “I’ve always been pro-choice,” Mintz said. “Always.” He added that he does oppose late-term abortions, however. “I believe in the current laws,” he explained.
On gay rights, Mintz similarly said no changes in the laws are needed. He’s against gay marriage, but thinks “what people do in private” should be no concern of the government’s. This, too, was always his position, he said.
Well, if he’s so pro-choice, I asked him, why did he buy a table at a Family Policy Council fund-raiser last year, as Williams says? And if he’s not so anti-gay, why was he at a meeting of Called2Action, the right-wing Christian group?
Mintz denied the former, calling it “false information.” He said he’d checked, and had no record of giving any money to FPC.
As for Called2Action, Mintz merely shrugged it off as something not so unusual for a political candidate. He could hardly deny it, because I was there too, reporting on it, and Mintz was busy–this was last summer–courting favor with a group whose stated policy positions are: 1) the sanctity of traditional marriage; 2) right to life; 3) protecting childhood innocence (which means keeping them away from “immoral” influences including gay and lesbian “materials”); 4) sexual abstinence outside of marriage (and no sex education); and 5) racial and ethic equality and justice (which means no affirmative action).
I’d forgotten all about meeting Mintz at C2A until I was reminded of it Friday by Frank Williams when I saw him at a conservative political conference. I asked Frank about Mintz and whether he could document his statement about the FPC dinner. No, he said, because his old computer crashed and all the e-mails in it were lost. But he was absolutely certain that Mintz reserved a table, because he’s the one who reserved it for him.
And Mintz attended, he said, because he was there and saw him.
Whether Mintz actually paid for the table, he didn’t know.
But if Mintz was denying his support for the conservative FPC, Williams said, why not ask him about going to the even more conservative Called2Action’s candidate training session?
That’s when it clicked, and I remembered where I first met Chris Mintz. Sure enough, in my C2A notes from that night, he’s in there, talking up the virtues of NCIOPL training.
It’s not a hanging offense, I guess, to talk to C2A. But for anyone who wants to be believed when he says he’s pro-choice and not anti-gay, C2A is not somewhere you want to be.
All this is a matter of some importance in the House 41 primary because Ty Harrell, who is pro-choice and pro-gay rights, is nonetheless not endorsed by Planned Parenthood’s PAC. The group is sitting out the primary because, according to both Mintz’s and Harrell’s supporters, both candidates scored 100 percent on their questionnaire.
NARAL, the National Abortion Rights Action League, is supporting Harrell, however. He’s been a regular volunteer for them, a spokesperson said, and Mintz never answered their questionnaire. And NOW, the National Organization for Women, is also backing Harrell, based on his “long-term commitment to women’s equality.”
To hear Mintz tell it on Saturday, he’s not only a moderate Democrat, he’s the Democrat who can beat Russell Capps in November because he’s a moderate, and can win votes from centrist Republicans and Democrats alike.
True, perhaps, if in fact he is a moderate. But from where I stand, that’s far from a proven proposition.
On the other hand, whether you think of Harrell as a moderate or a progressive (terms he doesn’t use), he is at least a Democrat, one who used to work in campaigns and now–with the luxury of a fund-raising job for Duke University–is in a position to work on his own. He’s been named “a rising star” by the progressive group Democracy for America. He’s backed by the Conservation Council of N.C., the AFL-CIO and the N.C. Association of Educators.
Ty’s pitch Saturday to the Wake Democrats: “It’s more than just talking about it. You gotta be about it.”
Kanoy’d by Price?
Here’s the one and only question voters need to answer in the 4th Congressional District Democratic primary: Are you satisfied with David Price’s performance on the war? If so, you will vote–along with an overwhelming majority, no doubt–for Congressman Price, a good and decent liberal. If not, Kent Kanoy, a mental health social worker currently employed by Duke University, has put his name on the ballot so that you can register your disapproval.
Kanoy says he was hoping a “legitimate” progressive candidate would file against Price. But when none did, and the end of the filing period was at hand, he put his name in. He likes Price. He’s voted for him “probably every time before.” And Price did, indeed, vote against the resolution for war in Iraq.
But Price was slow to call on Bush for an exit strategy, doesn’t attend anti-war events (Kanoy went to Fayetteville, Price didn’t), and is still not supporting H.Res. 73, the so-called Murtha plan for pulling our troops out of harm’s way first, and then out of Iraq. That’s Kanoy’s beef with him–one of them. The other is that Price isn’t backing H.Res. 635, the Conyers proposal for a select committee to investigate possible impeachment.
“Our country is facing a constitutional crisis at home and failed foreign policy abroad,” Kanoy says. And though Price might agree, he isn’t responding with the urgency the situation demands. “I believe the Bush-Cheney administration should be impeached, and David apparently doesn’t.”
Kanoy’s not raising money, other than $5,000 of his own. He bought 250 yard signs, and that’s all he’s going to buy. He’s offering a clear choice. That’s all he wanted to do.
There is a third candidate, it should be noted–former Durham City Council member Oscar Lewis. He appears to be the choice if you think Price is too progressive.