Hagan Headlines Big Democratic Rally
Cheering Democrats gave state Sen. Kay Hagan a standing ovation as a highlight of their Saturday night rally in Moore County.
Hagan, who is running against Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, was the star of the rally, which attracted more than 400 supporters to the Pinecrest High School cafeteria for a barbecue dinner and the opportunity to meet almost a dozen Democratic candidates or their representatives.
"We need to turn this country around -- right now," said Hagan, adding her sly dig that it's time to ship Republican Dole and her red slippers back to Kansas.
Aware that Republicans dominate the registration books in Moore County, many of the candidates emphasized the need to work across party lines and to cooperate on legislation needed to improve conditions in Moore County and across North Carolina.
"This is America, folks," said Betty Mangum, a Pinehurst resident running for state House of Representatives. "We need health care for our people."
Mangum pledged to work toward fair health-care coverage and also emphasized the need to improve education by offering better pay for teachers and upgrading security in schools.
"We need to work on education in North Carolina. It's better than building jails," Mangum said. "We need to pay teachers better. It used to be that our schools were safe havens, and we need to return to that."
A retired educator, Mangum served four years on the Wake County Board of Commissioners before she retired to Moore County with her husband. She is seeking the District 52 seat in the state House of Representatives. Her opponent in November will be Republican Jamie Boles, who defeated incumbent Rep. Joe Boylan in the May primary election.
Dr. Teresa Sue Bratton, who hopes to unseat veteran Republican Congressman Howard Coble, was also among the rally speakers. In her comments, she called for improved access to health care, attention to global warming and the high cost of fuel, improvement of education opportunities and restoration of faith in the political system. She is a physician and lives in Guilford County.
They headed an impressive array of candidates for regional and statewide office who either attended or sent representatives to speak on their behalf.
Other candidates who address-ed the gathering included Wayne Goodwin of Richmond County, a candidate for insurance commissioner and a former state representative; Tony Berk, candidate for county district attorney; Sam J. Ervin IV and Judge Cheri L. Beasley, candidates for N.C. Court of Appeals; and Dr. Abraham Oudeh of Harnett County, a candidate for the District 22 seat in the N.C. Senate.
Candidates sending representatives to speak on their behalf were Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive presidential nominee; Beverly Perdue, candidate for governor; Walter Dalton, candidate for lieutenant governor; and Judge Linda Stephens, candidate for N.C. Court of Appeals.
In their addresses, both Hagan and Mangum emphasized their experience and willingness to work with members of the opposing party when it comes to achieving the common good.
"I know how to work across party lines to get things done," said Mangum, who served on the two-party Wake County Board of commissioners. Her education career ranges from the classroom to administration at the state level.
Mangum also said she has a plan to help Moore County overcome the state bureaucracy to meet its water needs. She wants to develop a strategy that will enable the county to draw water from all three river basins.
"I am knowledgeable," Man-gum said. "I am hard working. I will work for you full time."
In her remarks, Hagan criticized Sen. Dole for inaction on a multitude of issues that affect middle and low income people and small businesses, such as helping young people to attend college, creating new jobs and holding on to existing jobs and lowering the price of gas.
She said that although Dole was born in North Carolina, she has not been a resident of the state for more than 40 years and thus has lost touch with the issues most important to North Carolinians.
Her home in recent years has been Washington, D.C., and Kansas, the home state of her husband, former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole.
"We can do better in this state," Hagan said.
Hagan challenged Democrats to examine her record during her 10 years in the state Senate, representing a district that includes Guilford County. She cited her five years as chairwoman of the Budget Committee and her record of advocacy for education, rural communities, research and development, job development and energy efficiency.
"We balance our budget in North Carolina," Hagan said. "We have a triple-A bond rating. We pay our debts. We do things right."
And in an obvious plea for support of the Democratic ticket nationally and statewide, Hagan said Democrats need to stop their internal bickering and stick together.
Dusty Rhoades, a Moore County attorney, served as master of ceremonies. A writer and humorist, he peppered his introductions and comments with quips and anecdotes that kept the audience chuckling.
Brian Deaton, chairman of the Moore County Democratic Party, welcomed everyone, and the Rev. Joan Ward gave the invocation.
The Democratic Women of Moore County and the Moore County Democratic Party jointly sponsored the rally, with Juanita Harbour chairing the event.
Steering committee members included Wilma Laney, president of the Democratic Women, and Mary Alice Wicker, Clare Ruggles, Diane Greene, Sybil Ryan, Bobbie Burrell, Sarah Ahmad and Mindy Fineman.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at florence @thepilot.com.
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