Political picks winner is …

Wolfpacker05, who wins a pair of East Carolina football tickets to Saturday’s homecoming game against Marshall.

WP05 finished an impressive 12-1, with his/her only miss coming in the Lenoir County Commissioner race, where he/she picked Eric Rouse instead of Reuben Davis.

Coach5511 finished second (11-2, misses were John McCain and Elizabeth Dole) and Shandshp was third (10-3, misses were Bob Crumley, Jack Sawyer and Jay Conner III).

Wolfpacker05, contact me at my e-mail (bhanks@freedomenc.com) or by calling me at (252) 559-1074.

Stay tuned — I may have another set or two of tix to Saturday’s game in another contest.

Morning News Report; Nov. 5, 2008


The pollsters actually got this one right; Barack Obama routed John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. As of 10:15 a.m., North Carolina, Missouri and Georgia still were undecided, but Obama led the Electoral College vote, 349-147.

My take(s): Don’t forget — this thing was still a contest a month or so ago, until McCain “dropped out” of the race to deal with the economy. I said it then and I say it again now, that was the turning point of the race. I don’t know if it would’ve made a difference one way or another if McCain would’ve stayed his course, but his show of indecision at that moment — while Obama looked very presidential — hurt his campaign, at least in my eyes.

Kudos to McCain last night for his concilatory concession speech. That was as classy a speech as I’ve ever heard.

Critics are questioning whether Sarah Palin’s pick hurt or helped McCain; initially, I thought it hurt, but as time wore on, I think it helped. One thing is certain: Palin is on the national stage for good now. I’d consider her a Republican front-runner for 2012.

Do you realize McCain won Lenoir County (by 121 votes)? Are you guys as shocked about that as I am?


Bev Perdue defeated Pat McCrory, Kay Hagan whipped Elizabeth Dole, Walter Dalton won the Lt. Gov. race as Democrats swept the top N.C. positions. That was certainly the Obama affect.

Locally, Van Braxton defeated Stephen LaRoque, despite losing both Lenoir and Wayne counties. Also, Billy Davis and Bruce Hill won at-large school board seats, while Reuben Davis and Linda Rouse Sutton took the at-large county commission seats.

The one pseudo-Republican victory, though, came in the non-partisan drive for Kinston municipal elections.

My take: Again, a Democratic sweep, which makes McCain winning Lenoir County all that crazier.


OK, so this won’t mean that much to most of you, but there’s a major overhaul at ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” which I unfortunately am addicted to. Erica — Callie’s new gay girlfriend — is being taken off the show after Thursday’s episode.

My take: It really doesn’t bother me that much, because I never really saw the chemistry between the two, anyway. But the way those characters go from bed to bed, it won’t surprise me if Callie (who’s already, ahem, “been with” three other characters on the show) shacks up with someone else soon.

Besides, if you’re going to have lesbian characters, they ought to be hot. Really hot.

The iPod shuffle

Without Love — Bon Jovi

Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love) — JC Chasez

Watching Airplanes — Gary Allan

The Update — Beastie Boys

The Way I Live — Baby Boy Da Prince

Pick the races, win ECU football tickets

As I stated in my Sunday column, here is your chance to pick who you think is going to win selected races in tomorrow’s general election.

The winner receives two tickets to Saturday’s East Carolina University homecoming football game against Marshall.

Simply write the WINNER of each race, hitting return each time so it’ll be easier for me to tabulate.

The tiebreaker (at the end) is for you to pick a percentage that you think the presidential winner will earn, to the tenth of a point. For example, if you think John McCain is going to win with 51.2 percent of the vote, type in “51.2 percent”.

I’ll probably declare a winner on Thursday, when final numbers come in.

Here you go (candidates listed in alphabetical order):

President — John McCain vs. Barack Obama

U.S. Senate — Elizabeth Dole vs. Kay Hagan

U.S. House (District 1) — G.K. Butterfield vs. Dean Stephens

U.S. House (District 3) — Walter B. Jones vs. Craig Weber

Governor — Pat McCrory vs. Bev Perdue

Lt. Governor — Walter H. Dalton vs. Robert Pittenger

Attorney General — Roy Cooper vs. Bob Crumley

Secretary of State — Elaine F. Marshall vs. Jack Sawyer

N.C. House (District 10) — Van Braxton vs. Stephen LaRoque

N.C. House (District 12) — Mark W. Griffin vs. William L. Wainwright

Lenoir County Commissioners, at-large (pick two) — Reuben J. Davis vs. Eric S. Rouse vs. Linda Rouse Sutton vs. Jeff Stephens

Board of Education, at-large (pick two) — Jay D. Conner III vs. Billy D. Davis vs. Gene H. Henderson vs. Bruce Hill

Morning News Report; Oct. 29, 2008


OK, not really. But a good time was had by all at the candidate forum held last night at the TACC-9 studios. For my story on the N.C. House races, click here; for David Anderson’s story on the Lenoir County commissioner race, click here; and for Chris Lavender’s story on the school board race, click here.

You can watch the replays of the forum on TACC-9 at the following times: Today and Thursday at 11:30 p.m.; Friday at 7 p.m. (tape it, since you’ll be at a prep football game!); Saturday at 9 p.m.; Sunday at 11:30 p.m.; and Monday at 7 p.m.

My take: Overall, it was actually a pretty entertaining night. District 12 incumbent Democrat William Wainwright was unable to attend and his opponent, 25-year-old Mark Griffin took the opportunity to hammer his opponent’s absence by holding up a picture of Wainwright and continually pointing out that Wainwright also missed 177 votes in the House in the 2007-08 session.

Van Braxton and Stephen LaRoque also had a few good exchanges and it’s easy to see that they stand opposed on several issues — chief among them, the gas tax.

LaRoque — who is very smooth and comfortable in front of the cameras — is for lowering the gas tax, while Braxton wants the tax to stay the same but to use the money more wisely.

Overall, a good night; take a couple of hours and watch the forum and read our stories before you go vote.


Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama appears in a 30-minute infomercial-type program in prime time tonight at 8 p.m. on CBS, NBC and Fox. The program, which is supposed to focus on the economy, will push back the conclusion of Game 5 of the World Series.

My take: As if having every other commercial isn’t enough, we get this, too? There is such a thing as too much Obama — whether you agree with him or not.

Flagan, Guitarwrecker and Heelatious — y’all watching this tonight? (I think I might know that answer…)


Robert Downey Jr. signed a contract to play Ironman in two more installments of the movie that has grossed $578 million worldwide.

My take: Good for Downey and for us. “Ironman” was one of my favorite movies this summer and he did a good job portraying him.

The iPod shuffle

Cover Me — Bruce Springsteen

Thnks Fr Th Mmrs — Fall Out Boy

Little Drummer Boy — Johnny Cash

Unconditional Love — Robin Rogers

Happiness Is A Warm Gun (The Gun Mix) — U2

LaRoque says Braxton is playing dirty … again

From a Stephen LaRoque press release:

Stephen LaRoque responds to Braxton’s push poll

Demands retraction and apology from Van Braxton … again!

August 7, 2008

Many voters throughout North Carolin State House District 10 received push poll telephone calls from Representative Van Braxton’s campaign on Wednesday night, August 6. The calls came from live operators who made false and malicious statements about former Representative Stephen LaRoque, Braxton’s opponent in November.

The false statements were disguised as polling questions.

LaRoque responded swiftly to the dirty attack.

“My opponent isn’t interested in solving the problems facing eastern North Carolina,” LaRoque said. “Instead, he is spending all his time and money playing political games and trying to mislead voters about me. It is obvious to me that he has no solutions to the problems regular people are facing. That’s why he is running a dirty campaign to try to distract attention from his poor record.”

In the telephone calls, voters were told that LaRoque voted to appropriate funds for “strip clubs to take down their billboards”, increase fees that banks can charge for homebuyers”, and that LaRoque had the “worst attendance record in the House”. These allegations are false and LaRoque reports that “many of the people  they called hung up on them because they are sick and tired of all the negative politics.”

“My message to the people of Lenoir, Wayne and Greene counties is simple. If you are happy with politics as usual and dirty campaigning, Van Braxton is doing fine,” LaRoque continued, “If you want a state representative who will work hard to strengthen our economy, stop illegal immigration and solve the other problems we face, I humbly ask for your support.”

Stephen LaRoque’s rebuttal to Van Braxton

Here it is in it’s full glory: Republican Stephen LaRoque’s response to Van Braxton’s kickoff party last night –

Stephen LaRoque Responds to Braxton’s False Attacks          

 Demands Retraction and Apology from Van Braxton

In the July 18, 2008 article in the Kinston Free Press “Rep. Van Braxton Formally Launches Re-election Bid”, Representative Van Braxton, at a campaign fundraising event Thursday night, accused Stephen LaRoque’s campaign of “going negative early” by mailing out postcards that “smear” Braxton’s record.  LaRoque, a Kinston businessman and former legislator, responded swiftly to the false charges.“It is unfortunate and sad that Van Braxton believes that to win an election he has to abandon all honesty,” LaRoque said. 

“Representative Braxton knows that my campaign hasn’t mailed out any postcards of any kind.  Not a single one.”  LaRoque went on to assail dishonesty in politics and the politicians who practice this dishonesty.  “The politicians in Raleigh aren’t solving eastern North Carolina’s problems because they are too busy playing political games,” LaRoque remarked.   

“Politicians like Van Braxton believe they can just invent a negative story about someone and the public will believe whatever they say,” LaRoque continued, “I’ve got news for Van Braxton.  The people of eastern North Carolina are a whole lot smarter than he thinks they are, and they want a state representative who solves their problems rather than playing political games.”

The Free Press article concludes with a statement by Bert Alexander, the host of the fundraiser, in which he says, “I support Van because he is honest.  Stephen LaRoque is not a truthful person.”  LaRoque responded by saying, “I am disappointed that my opponent and his supporters are beginning this campaign in such a negative fashion.  Eastern North Carolina’s working families face real problems, and I will not be distracted from my commitment to solving these problems by petty comments by my opponent and his supporters.”

“I demand a full retraction and apology from Van Braxton for his and Mr. Alexander’s untrue remarks about me.  The people deserve an honest debate on the issues, not this type of gutter politics,” LaRoque concluded.


My take: As I said below, this is going to be a fun election. Neither Braxton or LaRoque are the kind of men who back down from any challenge and this is one they’re both going to love.

Morning (Afternoon) News Report; July 18, 2008


Let the gun-slinging begin: The 2008 N.C. House election between incumbent Van Braxton (Democrat) and former Representative Stephen LaRoque (Republican) has started. At his formal kickoff party last night, Braxton had some interesting things to say about his opponent, including, “If you get a postcard from (LaRoque), throw it away.”

Well, according to LaRoque, there haven’t been any postcards. I’m going to post the full rebuttal from LaRoque in my next blog post, but here’s a snippet for your perusal:

“It is unfortunate and sad that Van Braxton believes that to win an election he has to abandon all honesty,” LaRoque said.  “Representative Braxton knows that my campaign hasn’t mailed out any postcards of any kind.  Not a single one.”

Chris Lavender’s well-written article wraps up with a quote from the owner of the home where Braxton’s kickoff was held, Bert Alexander:

“I support Van because he is honest,” Bert Alexander said. “Stephen LaRoque is not a truthful person.” 

My take: Folks, this is going to be a fun election. It matches up two politicians who I greatly admire, but who are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Stay tuned; it’s gonna get nasty.


As you know, the MNR is late today because I was in Jacksonville checking out the Kinston-Trinity summer league basketball game at Wells Gulledge’s East Coast Invitational.

My take: Like I’m reporting “news” here, but Kinston is loaded again. Reggie Bullock didn’t play much in the game I watched (about 5 minutes), but he really wasn’t needed as the Vikings rolled past Trinity, 38-25. The game was low-scoring because they use a running clock until the final minute of each half.

Some players to watch for: Senior guard Mister Height is going to be this year’s Akeem Sutton — the player who is going to step up and be that second or third leading scorer behind Bullock. Also, junior guard Dori Hines did a fine job running the point, junior guard/forward Josh Benoit showed good stroke, while senior post Victor Holloway looks like he’s polished his inside game and will be a factor this year.

I was a little disappointed in Trinity’s Josh Pittman; he is the player who almost single-handedly defeated Kinston in the 3A title game last year. He only scored 2 points on only 1-of-8 shooting. He appeared to hurt his groin in the final couple of minutes and was really ineffective. Of course, that was partially due to Kinston’s good defense.


East Carolina associate professor Jason Bond has offered to name one of 27 new species of trapdoor spider after Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert. Colbert, the hilarious host of “The Colbert Report,” was upset when Hall of Fame rocker Neil Young had a spider named after him.

My take: Regardless of your political affiliation, don’t you love Stephen Colbert’s show? I think he’s hilarious. Like wrestling, I know it’s all an act, but it’s funny how all the major politicians line up to be on his and Jon Stewart’s Comedy Central shows.

This is funny, but also a nice shout-out to ECU on a national stage — unless you’re reading E! Online’s story, which identifies Bond as a “University of North Carolina” biologist.

Let the letter-writing campaign begin, Pirate Nation…

The iPod shuffle

Surfin’ Bird — The Trashmen

Joy to the World — Three Dog Night

Mama Said Knock You Out — LL Cool J

Breakaway — Kelly Clarkson

It Was a Very Good Year — Frank Sinatra