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Bill Kirby Jr.: Politics, Yellow Dog Democrats and a word with the governor

Gov. Roy Cooper campaigns Monday at a Democratic District 21 state Senate fundraiser for Frank McNeill, right, in Moore County.
Gov. Roy Cooper campaigns Monday at a Democratic District 21 state Senate fundraiser for Frank McNeill, right, in Moore County.
Photo by Bill Kirby Jr.

The governor was running a bit late.

But Roy Cooper was on his way.

“He’s three minutes away,” a campaign manager for N.C. Senate 21 candidate Frank McNeill was saying Monday at a political fundraiser on the vast and picturesque horse farm of Jim Van Camp just outside Southern Pines in Moore County.

Soon enough, the governor was there to encourage some 300 Democrats to vote for McNeill, the former Aberdeen mayor who is challenging Rep. Tom McInnis, the 68-year-old Ellerbe resident and Rockingham native who has been in the state Senate since 2014.

Virginia, my better half, said we had to be there. She is a lifetime “Yellow Dog Democrat,” and Virginia Thompson Oliver will tell you so in no uncertain terms. Which means that, as a “Yellow Dog Democrat,” these folks will run a mangy yellow canine that just came out of a driving rain against a Republican and vote for him.

“The District 21 Senate race has nothing to do with us,” I was arguing with Virginia, the “Yellow Dog Democrat.” “We will be voting in the District 19 Senate race between former Sen. Wesley Meredith and challenger Val Applewhite, the former Fayetteville City Council member.”

But the “Yellow Dog Democrat” was right.

Redistricting now has McInnis and McNeill on our ballot, and apparently on the ballot for a lot of other folks in Cumberland County.

“The district boundary between (state Senate Districts 19 and 21) runs through the city, as does the line between congressional districts 7 and 9,” says Linda Devore, a member of the Cumberland County Board of Elections. “The state Senate and congressional lines are new. And this is why we have nearly 100 ballot styles across our 75 county precincts for the November election. Hope this helps.”

No, Mrs. Devore, more confused than ever, but I will try to figure it out between now and Election Day.

Local faces among the crowd

Alas, you saw a number of Cumberland County faces at this political fundraising rally on Jim Van Camp’s horse farm — from that of state Rep. Marvin Lucas to former county Commissioner Billy King to Glenn Adams, chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. No surprise there, because his wife, Gale Adams, is running for the N.C. Court of Appeals.

And there was barbecue, too.

Frank McNeill took the stage and was telling everybody his hopes, if elected on Nov. 8, for expanding health care coverage and Medicaid for rural areas, higher pay for public schoolteachers, protecting women’s rights to choose when it comes to abortion and investing in economic development.

The governor followed to tell us we need Frank McNeill in the state Senate, along with every Democratic candidate in the state Senate and state House of Representatives. Everybody in the crowd was going gaga. Remember, it was a Democratic fundraiser, and Election Day is near.

“Let’s send Frank McNeill to Raleigh!” the governor concluded, or something akin to that in all of the political rhetoric.

All of those at the rally were deliriously beside themselves as the governor was leaving the stage, including my “Yellow Dog Democrat,” a Cumberland County commissioner in the 1980s and once chairwoman of the N.C. Conference of County Commissioners.

I was praying Virginia wouldn’t want to head to the nearest animal shelter to see if it had any mangy yellow dogs up for adoption.


As for the governor, I’m not real happy that he didn’t support Sen. Kirk deViere in the District 21 primary with Val Applewhite. After all, deViere turned out to be a strong senator and was front and center in bringing more than $400 million back to Cumberland County in the state budget.

But I did want a moment with the governor.

“Governor,” I said as I stopped him on his way out. “Just want to tell you that one of the best decisions you have made is appointing Freddy Johnson Jr. as head of the N.C. Highway Patrol.”

 The governor agreed there was no doubt, and Roy Cooper was on his way back to Raleigh.

Freddy Johnson Jr. is a Cumberland County native who grew up out Stony Point way, and the governor got it right in April 2021.

“I’m very honored,” Johnson said Tuesday, “he picked me.”

That’s all I have for you, politicos — yellow dogs and all.

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

Column, Bill Kirby Jr., Fayetteville, politics, Freddy Johnson Jr., Roy Cooper