Politics & Government

The Source: ‘Girl on the Run’ looks to fix politics

‘Girl on the Run’ looks to fix politics

Charlottean Molly Barker is widely known as the founder of Girls on the Run. Not so well-known: She’s on a national commission looking for ways to fix America’s political system.

Yet there was Barker, sitting in the audience at Booth Playhouse, when former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe gave her a shoutout during Thursday night’s forum on political reform.

The forum, organized by the Observer and underwritten by Bank of America, featured Snowe and former U.S. Rep. Dan Glickman. Both are part of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform, a group that includes three former senators and two former governors.

“There’s a lot of commissions full of former politicos and elected officials, and we wanted this one to be different,” said Michele Nellenbach, the commission’s co-director. “So we went outside the Beltway.”

Nellenbach, a former parent-teacher association president, knew about Girls on the Run and found Barker. “We were looking into your not-so-average-Joes who had done some pretty incredible things,” she said.

Barker, 53, said it has been a great fit. She believes the key to change is open dialogue and open minds, just as she’s seen with the divergent political views on the bipartisan commission.

“So that was my takeaway,” she said, “that people are a lot more accessible than we realize if we come at people with a curiosity rather than a kind of in-your-face, kind of let-me-prove-my-point attitude. “That’s what this whole process was all about.”

Nellenbach said Barker has been a great addition to the commission.

“She has that way of asking a question that really gets the whole room to thinking,” she said. “She had that great way of really grounding the conversation. And she’s so, so passionate about this issue and trying to improve the public discourse.

“She’s a breath of fresh air, particularly for us jaded Washington types.” Jim Morrill

Jones wants full 9/11 report opened

Thirteen years after 9/11, a North Carolina congressman is leading the charge to declassify 28 pages from the 9/11 Commission Report.

Republican U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr. sponsored a bill with 11 House colleagues from both parties to open up the missing pages. Originally classified by President George W. Bush, they’ve been kept under wraps by the Obama administration.

The redacted pages reportedly relate to Saudi connections to the attacks.

Jones led a press conference in Washington last week to call attention to the cause. He also appeared on Jesse Ventura’s “Off the Grid” on Ora.tv, an Internet channel.

“There’s nothing about national security in this 28 pages,” Jones told him. “It gives you a better understanding of what foreign country might have had some complicity with what happened on 9/11. And also, I think it will be an embarrassment to the Bush administration if this information was made public.” Jim Morrill

Ex-DNC organizer wins in Massachusetts

Steve Kerrigan, who spent a year in Charlotte as CEO of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, last week won his party’s nomination for lieutenant governor of his native Massachusetts – and made history doing it.

Kerrigan, who turns 43 on Wednesday, would become the state’s first openly gay lieutenant governor if he beats a Republican opponent in November.

Kerrigan turned back two other Democrats in the primary despite losing the endorsement of the Boston Globe in an editorial that gave little love to the office, citing “the overall weakness of the field.”

Kerrigan was elected the same night that Maura Healey won the Democratic nod for state attorney general. She’s favored to become the country’s first openly gay attorney general. Jim Morrill

Group pushes minorities to vote – Republican

African-Americans have been the Democratic Party’s most reliable voters in North Carolina and around the country. Now supporters of Ben Carson are trying to change that.

The National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee is spending $300,000 on ads on radio stations geared toward African-Americans and Hispanics. It’s spending another $230,000 on ads in Louisiana. The ads, which started in most markets last week, target Democratic U.S. Sens. Kay Hagan and Mary Landrieu.

The ads seek to persuade minority voters that Republican positions on energy, abortion and education are more in line with their values than those of Democrats.

“Minority voters for 60 years have only heard what the Republican Party stands for from Democrats, and they haven’t been kind descriptions,” said Vernon Robinson, a Winston-Salem Republican and campaign director of the Carson committee. “Democrats have been running ads that say Republicans want to kill your mom and your dog.”

Robinson said the ads are designed to chip away at support for Hagan, who’s in a tight race with Republican Thom Tillis.

“Even minor shifts in minority participation are significant in a close race because Kay Hagan doesn’t have any minority voters to give up,” he said.

Carson has said a Republican takeover of the Senate – the GOP needs a net gain of six seats – would encourage him to seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

A retired neurosurgeon, Carson is also author of “One Nation,” which currently sits atop the New York Times best-seller list. Jim Morrill

Women urged to vote

Sarah Chamberlain is bringing her campaign to turn out women voters to Ballantyne this month.

Chamberlain is head of Main Street Advocacy, a group that advertises itself as “something refreshing on the conservative landscape.” She’s bringing an effort called Women2Women to the Ballantyne Hotel Sept. 25.

Joining her will be GOP U.S. Reps. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina and Susan Brooks of Indiana.

“We are not partisan. We are here to encourage women to vote,” Chamberlain said.

To register for the 6:30 p.m. event, go to http://mainstreetadvocacy.com. Jim Morrill

Write-in options

You won’t see their names on the ballot. That is, unless you write them in yourself.

Five write-in candidates have been certified for the November ballot by the state elections board. They include three U.S. Senate hopefuls: Barry Gurney, David Waddell (the former Indian Trail councilman who submitted his resignation letter in Klingon) and John Rhodes of Huntersville.

There are also two congressional candidates, including one in the 9th District.

Shawn Eckles, 33, of Troutman is running for the seat held by Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger. According to his Facebook page, he said he is “not a Democrat or Republican.”

“I just want to do the job and help Americans receive the benefits of living in the United States,” he said. Jim Morrill