Time to Vote, so Grab the Clothespins

Some voting options just stink, but not all do

LENOIR, N.C. — It’s time to get out the clothespins. One-Stop (Early Voting) begins in North Carolina tomorrow, and some of the choices — from federal to local races — simply stink. But not all do. Either way, this year is a year for endorsements. I’ll stick with the high profile ones, and some that are critical that you may not know about.

My Clothespin Voting Rankings™ include candidates that are Democratic, Libertarian, Republican and Unaffiliated. 

While I’m sharing my voting plans for some races, I don’t have a political philosophy; I simply look for candidates that demonstrate they have a mind at work, a heart that cares, and a soul that is aware of the needs of others. Elections, because they are binary choices, are false and limiting. Yet, staying on the sidelines isn’t exactly responsible when one considers the countless patriots who have given “The Last Full Measure of Devotion.”

So, I’m choosing, even if I must “hold my nose.” Hence, my clothespin ranking based upon my level of skepticism or concern. The scale is 1-5. The more clothespins, the less desirable the choice. 


U.S. President — Joe Biden (D). For president, selecting Joe Biden is not hard for me. Donald Trump is well known and not deserving of comment. Biden is also well known. However, he is the epitome of what is wrong with the Democratic Party. It relies upon a crony-capitalist cottage industry of professional politicos who choose the candidates. It backfired in 2016. More disturbingly, Biden seems intent on influence peddling (read more here and here), or at least it appears that way. And, he is dead wrong on fracking. RANK: 2 clothespins. With Biden, it is business as usual. While I don’t like business as usual, I know that Trump has an authoritarian streak that will be our undoing should he win a second term. Should Biden win, a reckoning will and must occur within the Democratic Party before 2022.

Shannon Bray

U.S. Senate — Shannon Bray (L). Bray, a Libertarian, is undeniably qualified to serve in the U.S. Senate. In addition to his credentials, it is clear that our two-party system is not working, largely because there is no operational difference between Republicans and Democrats. Libertarian ideas are worthy of consideration. Incumbent Republican Thom Tillis has been a Trump enabler and the Democrat, Cal Cunningham, totally undermined his “Boy Scout” candidacy with a sex scandal. His campaign is an example of the Democratic Party not learning from 2016. The national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee supported Cunningham prior to the primary, putting their thumbs on the scale so that a white man could defeat N.C. Sen. Erica Smith, a black woman. RANK: 1 clothespin. For the unknown of how effective Bray could be in Washington.

U.S. Congress (5th District) — No endorsement. I am personal friends with Virginia Foxx, the Republican incumbent. I do not, however, agree with her politically.


Governor — Roy Cooper (D). He is no Boy Scout either. Like every North Carolina governor before him, he has been more interested in pleasing Duke Energy than serving Tar Heel residents. His questionable deal with Duke for the now-abandoned Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is a stark reminder that much work remains by environmentalists to exercise influence on either major political party in the state. Dan Forest, his GOP opponent and sitting Lieutenant Governor, has been an obstructionist to Cooper. That is poor stewardship of the voters’ trust. RANK: 3 clothespins. Cooper’s loyalty to the fossil fuel mono-economy could be very bad for North Carolina’s most important economic driver — tourism.

Steve Troxler

Lieutenant Governor and Council of State — Democrats, except for Commissioner of Agriculture — Steve Troxler. For a decade, the GOP has launched an assault upon the working class, poor and vulnerable in North Carolina. They have assaulted voting rights. That, alone, should disqualify them from earning your vote. Why vote for a person trying to take away that very right? That being said, Steve Troxler is opposed by Jenna Wadsworth, who seems more concerned about talking about identity grievance politics on her website than offering a solid plan for North Carolina agribusiness. There is no state in the nation better positioned to benefit from the changes in agriculture due to the pandemic. In the future, local sustainability will be essential. We need a candidate who not only understands that, but has a plan to adapt to it. I see no such evidence with Wadsworth. Troxler is a farmer. He knows the hard work required of every family farmer in our state. RANK (Dems): 2 clothespins. There is a hodgepodge of candidates for these various offices. Being down-ballot, they’re easy to miss. So, voting is a bit more of a gamble. RANK (Troxler – Rep): 1 clothespin. Troxler is a proven champion of the farmer, though he could certainly be pushed harder on industrial hemp, which could be one of North Carolina’s largest crops; he also must be thinking post-pandemic now, which means coming up with a plan for local, sustainable family farming. 

N.C. Supreme Court — Chief Justice, Cheri Beasley (D); Justices, Lucy Inman (D) and Mark Davis (D): The state Supreme Court is the check against efforts by Republicans to strip away voting rights, deny Medicaid to the most vulnerable citizens, and privatize the public schools, among other assaults upon traditional North Carolina values. RANK: 0 clothespins. These choices are the easiest on the ballot, except for perhaps the President, especially in light of the shenanigans that the GOP is willing to pull to attack voting rights. 

N.C. Senate — Edward Phifer (D): He is challenging five-term incumbent Warren Daniel to represent Caldwell, Avery and Burke counties. Daniel has been a leader among Republicans in the State Senate to launch an all-out assault on voting rights. He must be stopped. RANK: 1 clothespin. Should he pull the upset, Phifer will learn quickly that people don’t play nice in Raleigh. 

Corie Schreiber

N.C. House — Corie Schreiber (D): Schreiber is running against two-term incumbent Destin Hall. Hall, too, has been a leader among Republicans to launch an all-out assault on voting rights, only in the State House. He must be stopped. RANK: 1 clothespin. See above. Should she pull the upset, Schreiber will learn quickly that people don’t play nice in Raleigh.

Caldwell County Board of Education — Sarah Greer-Koenig (U):
Greer-Koenig is only one of two candidates with a child presently in the Caldwell County School System, and the only mom. A fifth-generation Caldwellian, she is one of eight candidates seeking three seats. The current School Board’s lack of transparency is disturbing. Their financial mismanagement of the budget is inexcusable. So, while this is technically the only non zero-sum choice on the ballot since you have three votes, I recommend you cast only one vote and cast it for Greer-Koenig. This technique is called “slingshotting” and prevents you from essentially diluting your vote. Greer-Koenig’s focus on providing parental involvement and oversight on the board is badly needed. She has experience advocating for children. She also has made transparency a centerpiece of her platform; in light of the current School Board’s reluctance to engage the public, Greer-Koenig’s presence on the School Board is desperately needed. RANK: 1 clothespin. The work is complicated and the responsibility significant, so should she be elected, Greer-Koenig will have quite a learning curve. She’ll also have fences to mend in what has become an uncharacteristically nasty School Board race.

(CORRECTION: An earlier version incorrectly had Board of Elections instead of Board of Education. I also wrote that she is the only parent; she is one of two).

Agree with me or not, but get out there and VOTE! Learn more here about early voting in Caldwell County.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2020. Vote Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash; Arlington National Cemetery photo by Quick PS on Unsplash; Clothespins photo by T. Q. on Unsplash