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In our opinion: Let's get ready to rrruuummmbbbllle!

It was a day in June, little more than a week before the July 4 holiday and almost 12 weeks before Election Day. And yet, in Brunswick and New Hanover counties on June 27, the race for governor was in full swing, protesters were protesting, and the presidential debate was scheduled for prime-time TV. For political junkies like members of the Brunswick County Democratic Party, the early start to this year’s campaign — a long way from the cool, invigorating temperatures of the first Tuesday in November — was intoxicating.

Starting the day was an appearance by North Carolina’s gubernatorial candidates at a breakfast event in Wilmington. Speaking separately were Democrat Josh Stein and his MAGA Republican opponent, Mark Robinson. According to a report by WECT, Stein revealed his vision. “We have to remain focused on the fundamentals,” he said. “Strong public schools, good infrastructure, accessible and affordable health care, and safe communities.” But then he took a swipe at Robinson, urging, while not naming, his opponent to “steer clear of the job-killing culture wars.”

For his part, Robinson largely obliged, focusing his comments on what he called the “pillars” of the state’s economy: public education, health care, infrastructure and housing.

But Robinson’s attempt to refrain from making the kind of inflammatory, culture-war remarks that infuriate fair-minded voters didn’t prevent a coalition of organizations— including the BCDP — from making sure they were on prominent display.

Later in the day, Robinson appeared at a fund-raising event in St. James, where he was met by a sizable gathering of sign-wielding protesters anxious to confront him with their thoughts on his views about abortion rights, LBGTQ, the Holocaust and other issues. “We are protesting, unified and determined, because we absolutely oppose this bigoted, misogynistic and intolerant candidate,” said BCDP Chair Shelley Allen. “Our coalition represents the best values of Brunswick County voters, not the misguided, flippant delusions of Mark Robinson and his MAGA cronies.”

Soon after Robinson left the St. James Community Center (through the back door), the hardy band of protesters broke camp and headed for their favorite video device to watch the evening’s presidential debate. To say they were disappointed in the results would be an understatement. But to lose faith in President Biden’s accomplishments and leadership because of one performance would be a mistake. “Bad debate nights happen,” wrote former President Barack Obama on X. “Trust me, I know.”

As the election season moves along, new events will overshadow the receding memory of the June 27 debate. “This election is still a choice between someone who has fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who only cares about himself,” President Obama said.

The events of that day in late June were important because they accurately foreshadow the days and months of the election season yet to come — in Brunswick County, Raleigh and Washington, DC.


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