There was a time in the South when Republican primaries didn’t exist, much less matter. Growing up in Louisiana, no one bothered to say that winning the Democratic primary (always held on Saturdays, by the way) was “tantamount to election.” It was the election. Republicans were few and far between, and it seemed like most of the people who declared themselves members of the GOP were lawyers who knew that every eight years or so a Republican would be elected president and they’d become federal judges.

We all know that changed. But what’s happened more recently is of concern–the extreme right-wing takeover of the party. I remember when there were Republicans like Abraham Ribicoff in Connecticut and William Scranton in Pennsylvania and George Romney in Michigan–thoughtful people who held moderate views on social issues, particularly civil rights.

Those moderates are hard to find in these days of Karl Rove and Tom DeLay. They’re especially hard to find here in North Carolina, the land of Jesse. Every time someone pops up and sounds even slightly moderate, the hard-right conservatives set out to purge them. That’s what’s happening in a number of the Republican primaries in the Triangle, and it’s important for Republican–and unaffiliated–voters to keep that in mind when they go to the polls on Tuesday.

In House District 36 in Cary, six-term incumbent Republican David Miner–a pro-business conservative–has come under vicious attack from the far-right. They’ve accused Miner of supporting pornography because he wouldn’t back a bill that made state subsidies for film companies contingent on content. And they accuse him of being anti-family because he doesn’t support amending the state’s constitution to ban gay marriage.

In northeast Wake, thoroughly conservative Republican Rep. Rick Eddins is under attack from extreme right-wingers U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (who wants to name Falls Lake for Jesse Helms), state Rep. Russell Capps (who think the schools should be teaching creationism), and state Rep. Sam Ellis, who is behind the proposals to judge film (and other arts) content before allowing public funding.

And this election allows Republicans and unaffiliated voters the opportunity to finally send Capps, who represents northwest Wake, back to the Wake Taxpayers Association, full time.

A lot of people ask us why we even bother to endorse in Republican primaries when we’re so much more progressive than most Republicans. The reason is this: When there’s a more moderate Republican running in a primary, and the hard-right is out to beat him or her, we think it’s important for you to know that. And this isn’t just an issue for Republicans–independents (or unaffiliated voters, as they’re called) can choose to vote in the Republican primaries. And they, like more moderate Republicans, can use this week’s ballot as an opportunity to make stands against prejudice and for personal freedom–thoroughly Republican values. At least they used to be.


We promised we’d let you know when you could catch the documentary About Baghdad again, and there will be two opportunities next week. They’re showing Monday, July 19, at 7 p.m. at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, 309 Morgan St., and Tuesday, July 20, at 7 p.m. at the Colony Theatre in Raleigh, 5438 Six Forks Road. There’s a $5 requested donation, with proceeds going to pay for the showing and to help offset the cost of the film. And there’ll once again be a question and answer session afterward with Rania Masri, a fellow at the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham who’s a member of the nine-person cooperative that made the film.