Question Mark Cain

by | Jun 26, 2013 | Carolina Strategic Analysis, Features | 1 comment


In terms of the upcoming Senate race in North Carolina, former ambassador Jim Cain is still a question mark.

When it comes to the other potential candidates, it’s fairly easy to discern their intentions. Thom Tillis is in. Greg Brannon is in. Mark Harris might as well be. Renee Ellmers says her “heart is in the House”. Virginia Foxx says she’s been “urged not to say no yet” (which means no). After a lot of activity this spring, Berger has been awfully quiet lately, and he’s said to be leaning against making the race.

That leaves Jim Cain. From the News & Observer:

Former ambassador to Denmark Jim Cain would not confirm or deny his rumored candidacy for the 2014 Senate GOP primary after a speech Monday to the Rotary Club of Raleigh.

Cain, also a former president and CEO of the Carolina Hurricanes, first answered with a “no comment,” but continued: “At some point in life I will get back into public service, but whether the Senate race in 2014 is the right time and opportunity or not at this point, I don’t know. I’ll just say there are many who are encouraging us to run.”

What to make of this statement? Cain, I think, is genuinely undecided, but is facing pressure from two groups – those who really want him to run and those who really don’t.

A Cain entry has the potential to turn the Republican primary on its head. He would probably compete with Thom Tillis when it comes to garnering support from mainstream Republicans. And therein lies the danger – a Cain entry could divide the moderate vote, allowing a Tea Party contender to prevail. Hence the pressure.

Even though Cain’s statement is awfully ambiguous, gun to my head I’d say he opts out of the race. It’s possible, however, that he’s taking a “wait and see” approach. It’s still early summer, there’s still plenty of time to decide.

During the informal speech, Cain said the U.S. must promote its entrepreneurial spirit throughout the rest of this “small world.” The U.S. isn’t better than other countries, he said, it’s just different. In his world travels, he’s heard dozens of people refer to the US as the “land of opportunities,” a moniker he hopes the country will work towards preserving.

If Cain does throw his hat into the ring, he might want to work on this kind of language. While saying “the U.S. isn’t better than other countries” makes sense coming from an ambassador, it won’t win him accolades from conservatives.

When will the Senate race begin, really? Look for after the legislative session. That’s when Tillis will end the “soft launch” period of his campaign and start acting like a U.S. Senate candidate. That’s when Foxx, Ellmers, etc. will tell us they’re not running. And Cain? It’s possible that a month from now, he’ll still be a question mark.

1 Comment

  1. AHJ

    Carolina Strategy is a truly excellent site. This reader has learned so much from your level-headed commentary and detailed geographical profiles. Please keep it up.

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