Jimmy Cousins redux

As if my story on Jimmy Cousins’ divorce from the Lenoir County Democratic Party wasn’t long enough — 40 inches, kiddies — here are some leftover quotes I was unable to use in the story:

On why he did it Monday night:

“I decided to do it (Monday night) because I didn’t get any recognition from the Democratic leaders; all I got from them was a grunt and a ‘I wish he would go away, because we want this other fella to be mayor,’ ” Cousins said. “I didn’t think the public was given a fair shake to make a decision on who should be mayor and who shouldn’t be from the Democratic side.”

On B.J. Murphy:“We have a great young man who is going to be our mayor,” Cousins said. “But he’ll do a great job only if the people up there will work with him.”

On changing parties:“I haven’t made up my mind and I won’t until the first of the year,” Cousins said. “I’m not leaning towards any political party at the present time. I’m just divorcing myself from the Democrats. They divorced themselves from me, some I’m divorcing myself from them.

“I am a person of integrity and I don’t think these people are. You are always known by the people you are associated with; my folks taught me that. I don’t want to be associated with people like that.”

Cousins said that, among his accomplishments in eight years on the city council, he was most proud of the naming of Martin Luther King Blvd.“I hope people remember that I strove for unity and bringing the races together,” Cousins said. “I always tried to make sure I was fair to both sides.”

B.J., Bobby, Robbie, Buddy and Jimmy … oh my!

It was quite a historic night at City Hall tonight as B.J. Murphy took the oath of office to become the next mayor of Kinston. He was joined by new councilman Bobby Merritt and returning councilman Robbie Swinson on the board.

But outgoing councilman Jimmy Cousins almost stole the show in announcing that he is leaving the Democratic Party. He took several shots at outgoing mayor Buddy Ritch, other county Democrats and the party itself before announcing that he will no longer be a Dem.

Maybe he’ll become a Libertarian, but I’m not holding my breath.

Say what you want about Cousins, but he’s not a politician. He’ll tell you what he thinks in a heartbeat. For him to do it the way he did tonight was ballsy as hell.

Anyhoo — a very historic night at City Hall. Now it’s Mayor Murphy’s turn at the helm of the ship. I have to admit, I’m excited to see what’s going to happen over the next few months.

Morning News Report; Nov. 13, 2009


The conservative “World” magazine has an article on Kinston Mayor-Elect B.J. Murphy and the Department of Justice decision in its latest issue.

My take: As much coverage as the DOJ decision has received — along with Murphy’s victory — this seems like only a percursory, surfacy-type story. But good for “World” for getting Kinston’s name out. Like I’ve stated many times before, maybe this will help change the City Council’s mind about appealing the decision.


Without taking direct aim at John McCain himself, former Vice Presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin charges in her new book that his campaign staffers kept her bottled up and even charged her $50,000 for her vetting.

The book is already at the top of Amazon’s best sellers, even though it isn’t released until Tuesday.

My take: Not sure I want to read this, but heck, by the time she’s finished with Oprah, “Good Morning America” and every other show she’s going to be on in the next two weeks, you’re going to know everything that is in the book, anyway.

You think Tina Fey will play her in the movie based on the book?


One of the world’s best rock bands, The Who, will play halftime of Super Bowl XLIV in Miami on Feb. 7.

My take: Talked to Jon Dawson this a.m., and he’s convinced they’ll play all their CSI songs, i.e., “Who Are You”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Baba O’Riley”. Nothing wrong with that; I just hope they don’t try to play some new song that no one has ever heard…

The iPod shuffle

Sledgehammer — Peter Gabriel

Redneck Woman — Gretchen Wilson

Summer Love/Set The Mood Prelude — Justin Timberlake & Timbaland

Rock Of Ages — Def Leppard

I Feel Fine — Cream

It’s official: B.J. Murphy is the next mayor of Kinston

Just got back from the Lenoir County Board of Elections and with the canvassing complete, the next mayor of Kinston is … Jon Dawson.

OK, just kidding; it’s B.J. Murphy, who officially won by 52 votes over Earl Harper and 438 over Jimmy Cousins. Murphy finished with 37.83 percent (1,361 votes) to Harper’s 36.38 percent (1,309) and Cousins’ 25.65 (923).

Other official winners included Bobby Merritt and Robert A. Swinson IV for Kinston City Council; Bobby Wooten, David S. Holmes and Veronica (Nicky) Lee for La Grange town commissioner; Treva H. Brigman for Pink Hill mayor; and Donald R. King, Mike Hill and Carol Sykes for Pink Hill town commissioner.

And nope, you won’t be able to get a mixed drink in La Grange as it was voted down 260-226.

Leftover quotes from Sunday story, column

As any reporter worth his salt will tell you, when you do a huge story — like my “Anatomy of an upset” in today’s Free Press – you end up with many, many more quotes than you’ll ever use.

That was certainly the case with the story about B.J. Murphy’s win on Tuesday as Kinston’s next mayor. Here are the quotes I was unable to use in the story, but I thought you might like to read:

B.J. Murphy 

“We didn’t plan on it, but Facebook really helped us,” Murphy said. “The comments that were made on Kinston.com helped; good or bad, it didn’t hurt the campaign to have our name mentioned in comments with news articles.”

“It’s a fair question,” Murphy said of his future. “I approach my decisions like I do my Facebook status: How will this affect me 10 or 20 years down the road? Will I be happy that I made this decision 20 years from now? Maybe that’s me trying to be too mature sometimes, but I think it’s a good philosophy to have.

“In looking at my future, I’m only concerned about the next four years. I really am. Kinston has Spirit and Sanderson coming and on top of that, my ideas about the small business blue ribbon commission need to be discussed and I want to see it come to fruition. I’m betting that in two or three years, you’re going to see some good results come from that, especially with all the offsprings from Spirit and Sanderson.”

“In the future, say 10 or 15 years down the road, who knows?” Murphy said. “But right now, Kinston has a lot of good things going for it and I’m excited about being at the helm.”

On having a new leader:

“This is no poor reflection on any of our past leaders, but having a new leader … will help increase the odds that all these projects will be more successful,” Murphy said.

On his faith

“A lot of times, I don’t think we leave enough room for God to work,” Murphy said. “In my race, I ran a positive campaign and was able to compare my position with my opponent’s position in a positive light using factual information. There was no smearing or anything going on.

“There were things outside my control that worked in my favor. I don’t attribute that to any one party or group or anything; I attribute it to the fact that I was working hard to serve the people of Kinston. We had an effective campaign strategy. We left enough room that at the end of the day, we could say, ‘We’ve done all we can do; Lord it’s up to You to do the rest.’ ”

“Leaders should leave more room for God to work,” Murphy said. “I believe in the power of prayer but I also believe the Lord gave us these eyes, ears and hands to actually do something. Prayer is good, but actions speak louder than those words.”


“I’ve been elated, excited and nervous about what’s to come, but it’s a good nervous,” Edwards said. “The people have spoken and I know B.J. is going to do a great job.”

“Call it fate, destiny or a perfect storm, but we’re here today with the one who had the best ideas and best positions,” Edwards said. “Of the three, it was said he had the least experience. But the other two had the kind of experience we didn’t need. … His inexperience was actually a positive quality.”

“I see his next four years deciding his future,” Edwards said. “When those four years are up, we’ll see if he’s done enough to make his mark so he can continue. I see him having a great future.”

“I’ve seen our party go from a divisive unit to one that’s united,” Edwards said. “The timing was just right this year, because the Democrats did just the opposite. Watching that happen, I felt like it was going to give us an opportunity.”

TOM FETZER, former three-term mayor of Raleigh, who was first Republican to win office in a century in 1993

“The Republican Party is working harder to become more competitive at the local level,” Fetzer said. “In small towns like Lincolnton and Kinston and in larger towns like Greensboro, the Republican message was heard and resonated.”

Fetzer predicted that North Carolina’s state house and senate would both go Republican in 2010 for the first time since 1898.

“Young leaders like B.J. are not only the present of our party, but the future as well,” Fetzer said. “B.J. has the potential to be a great leader for our party in the state. The first thing he has to do is do well in Kinston.”

Jimmy Cousins

“I think he energized his people; he got a young people interested because of his age,” Cousins said. “He did a tremendous amount of work on his Facebook page and he got young people excited about the mayoral race.”

“When the Democrats became so fragmented that they didn’t know who to vote for, he rallied his people and they stayed behind him,” Cousins said. “He’s deserving of winning, because he stayed focused and on target.”

“If B.J. will sit back and use his resources and go slow on some of the things he wants to change, I don’t see how he can’t be successful,” Cousins said.

“I would’ve announced earlier, so that we wouldn’t have had two candidates running out of the same circle of friends,” Cousins said. “Evidently, I alienated some of the people who were in office.”

“It was a matter that Mr. Ritch thought Mr. Harper was a better candidate, so he backed him,” Cousins said. “They had a pretty strong group behind him and they certainly expected to win.”

Cousins said he has no regrets about his run for mayor and that, if given the same choice by the group, he would still have run for mayor.

“I make up my own mind,” Cousins said. “I came from a poor tenant-farmer family where my parents were wonderful and taught me there was nothing impossible for us to accomplish. … I will not let other people dictate to me what I can and cannot do.”

Reece Gardner

“We had three candidates here who anyone would agree would’ve served this city well as its mayor,” Gardner said. “All three had attributes that make them worthy of being elected mayor.”

“I think folks felt it was time for the city to quit being so partisan,” Gardner said. “B.J. was the only one of the three candidates who was absolutely forthright in his support of nonpartisan elections and the majority will of the people. The other two seemed, at best, to be lukewarm about it.”

“In my lifetime, I would’ve thought it would be highly unlikely that we’d see a Republican mayor of Kinston,” Gardner said. “But when it developed into a three-man race, I felt it would make it the most likely time we’d ever see it happen. Timing is so often the key and that was the case here.”

George Graham

“Our work relationship will be excellent,” Graham said. “I’m going to do everything I possibly can to make him welcome and to share information with him to move this county forward. The election is over and he will be sworn in as mayor. We need to make bygones be bygones and head to the drawing board to do things that are best for our community.”

“He will learn very quickly that at the local level it’s not about party, it’s about having a good place to work, live, play, be educated and have a good quality of life,” Graham said. “If we stay focused on those issues, we’ll working hand in glove.”

Rita Spence

“We had the closest thing to what people want in this election,” Spence said. “It won’t make any difference if (the nonpartisan effort) passes or doesn’t pass here; in a small town, everybody knows who the Democrats or Republicans are.”

Here are leftover quotes I was unable to use in my column (“Healing process begins for Lenoir County Democrats“):

Jimmy Cousins

“I don’t know the answer to that, because everything became so convoluted in the election,” Cousins said. “I don’t know if there’s ever been any leadership in (the Lenoir County Democratic Party). There may have been token leadership, but that’s about it.”

“George Graham wanted some additional glory, so while Obama was running, George took over the chairmanship to get that glory,” Cousins said.

With his wife battling an illness, Cousins said they have considered moving to the coast, but said he’s in Kinston for the “time being.”

“Right now, I’m going to stay here,” Cousins said. “I want to help the city and to do whatever it takes to do that. I would still like to be in the decision-making process for some of the things that’s going to happen in the city. I don’t want to fade into oblivion.

“As far as politics or running for another office, I haven’t been out long enough — and won’t be out until December — to think about it.”

“I’m a Democrat by affiliation, by name, by registration,” Cousins said. “But I’ve never have been a full-fledged Democrat. To tell you the honest truth, I’m more of a Libertarian than I am a Democrat. I believe in smaller government, I believe in people doing for themselves, I believe in more personal responsibility for your own self.

“The government tries to get you in a corner where you’re beholden to them and then you’ll keep voting the same people in office over and over and over again.”

Reece Gardner

“I certainly think there will be a strong Democratic Party after this,” Gardner said. “But there will also continue to be a strong Republican Party, maybe stronger than ever before.”

Rita Spence

“The Democratic Party in Lenoir County is alive and well and will continue,” Spence said. “After the first of the year when people are rested and politics are on their radar again, it will reorganize.”

Morning News Report; Nov. 4, 2009


B.J. Murphy pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Lenoir County political history last night with his dual defeat of Earl Harper and Jimmy Cousins in the mayoral election. Murphy defeated Harper by 61 votes, while Cousins — the Democrat (and arguably the favorite two months ago) — finished third.

My take: I’m going to have an analysis piece in Thursday’s Free Press, so I don’t want to give away the whole she-bang here.

This needs to be said, though: B.J. ran a hell of a campaign. He was more energized than his opponents, he beat the streets and robo-called Kinston to death in the final days before the election.

But he also represented something people in Kinston were looking for: change. While Earl — as honorable a man as you’ll ever find — had the support of Lenoir County’s Democratic leaders and Jimmy had that (D) behind his name, B.J. had hard work, sweat and moxie going for him.

I drove all over Kinston yesterday and seemingly everywhere I went — from Wal-Mart to the hospital area to East Kinston — B.J. supporters were there, holding signs and waving.

B.J., it’s your turn; let’s see what you can do to improve our great city. Good luck, Mr. Mayor-Elect.

A last thought — do you guys realize what we’ve seen in the past year in politics? We have an African-American president, a female governor of our state and a Republican mayor of Kinston. THAT’S what I love about America: you really, truly don’t know what is going to happen next. ANYONE can make it with hard work and a zealous drive.


AT&T is upset over Verizon’s “There’s a map for that” ad that plays off AT&T/Apple’s “There’s an app for that”; so much so that AT&T is suing Verizon to stop them.

My take: As a proud iPhone owner and longtime AT&T client (well, since Cingular sold out to ‘em, at least), the ad campaign gnaws at me a bit.

But one thing is certain: AT&T really needs to up its 3G coverage area. Of course, we don’t have it here in Kinston, which sucks, but there are huge pockets of area in North Carolina alone where 3G is not available.


Check out this headline from today’s New York Post:


My take: Awesome. Wonder if my boss would let us do that?

The iPod shuffle

Glory Days — Bruce Springsteen

Ups & Downs — Snoop Dogg featuring The Bee Gees

Turn Off The Light — Nelly Furtado

Freedom For My People — U2

Angel — Aerosmith

P.S.: Congratulations to Seth Jones (Beale St. Buc) for winning the Streak For The Cash in October, as we mentioned a few days ago. His prize? Two $55 tickets to tomorrow night’s nationally-televised game between East Carolina and Virginia Tech.

See — you should play SFTC and win cool prizes from us!

Elections 2009 — B.J. Murphy is the new Kinston mayor

While we’ll be putting the Kinston mayoral election results up as they roll in tonight at Kinston.com, you can get a statewide look at the results by going to the N.C. Election site located here.

I’ll be providing updates at Kinston.com, but also putting thoughts up on my Twitter feed at BCHanks. Stay tuned to see who the next mayor of Kinston will be!

UPDATED AT 9:30 P.M.: B.J. Murphy finished with 1,337 votes (37.97 percent) to Earl Harper’s 1,276 (36.24 percent) and Jimmy Cousins’ 903 (25.65 percent) to win the Kinston mayoral race. I’ll give analysis when I get off deadline.

UPDATED AT 11:15 P.M.: It was quite a night at the Board of Elections; admittedly, I’m exhausted, but I’ll provide some quality analysis in my MNR tomorrow.

Good night — and congratulations to B.J. and his supporters.

Election prediction, nonpartisan reaction

As promised in my column Sunday, here are my predictions for today’s Kinston mayoral election:

If turnout is more than 25 percent — and it’s likely it will be, with nearly 1,100 early voters taking part in the process — I think Jimmy Cousins will win the election. As Cousins, Earl Harper and B.J. Murphy will tell you, East Kinston — which is overwhelmingly African-American and votes Democrat — will decide this election. With more folks voting from East Kinston, I think they’ll instinctively hit that straight ticket Democrat button, bringing Cousins the win.

If turnout is 17 to 25 percent, it’s Murphy. It could actually be 16 or 18 to 25 percent, but I think that would throw enough of a mix into the proceedings to help Murphy win.

If turnout is under 17 percent, it’s Harper. His supporters are mobilized, but they are limited to an older generation.

Kinston’s nonpartisan issue hit the national airwaves Friday when National Public Radio and Fox News’ Hannity program aired segments about it. Surprisingly, NPR’s broadcast was very balanced but didn’t do much more than just bring the facts to the surface. As expected, Hannity’s program took a right-wing (albeit, fair) view of the issue.

One thing I hope from all this is that all this attention helps the Kinston City Council change its collective mind and get behind an appeal effort. The people spoke a year ago — and we are still not respecting their wishes.

Why the Democrats are supporting Earl Harper

Here’s a letter that former Lenoir County Democratic Party chairman Lyle Holland is sending folks around the county, explaining why Democrats are supporting unaffiliated candidate Earl Harper for Kinston mayor instead of Democratic candidate Jimmy Cousins:

Click here: 103009-democrats-letter.pdf

My take: Yeppers, the Democrats are pretty fired up about this election.

Here’s the thing, though — if they want to support someone that’s not their own, that’s their prerogative. But why embarrass a fellow Democrat the way they have?

My Kinston peops, I hope you are going to vote Tuesday; it’s going to be a humdinger of an election.

On your airwaves

If you just can’t get enough of my loveliness — and you happen to be driving through Clinton this afternoon — I am a guest on “Today’s World with Sammy O’Bannion” from 2:20 to 3 p.m. today. The show airs on WCLN-AM 1170; there’s not a Web link, so if you want to hear the show, drive to Clinton.

And yes, it’s the same Sammy O’Bannion of beach music fame; he’s also a political junkie who wants to talk about the Kinston nonpartisan issue on his show this afternoon.

Additionally, I’ll be on TACC-9 tonight at 7 on “The Reece Gardner Show”. Reece will be interviewing the three Kinston mayoral candidates and I will be on in his final segment providing analysis of the race and their performance on his show.

The cool thing about TACC-9 right now is that the station’s owner, Clark Tutt, has started “on demand” viewing at the Web site linked above — so you can watch it any time you want. Check it out.