RALEIGH — As the North Carolina General Assembly continues to wind down its legislative work for 2014, my Carolina Journal colleagues are already turning their attention toward what promises to be a fascinating midterm election cycle.
The marquee race, obviously, is the U.S. Senate contest between incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican Speaker of the House Thom Tillis, with Libertarian nominee Sean Haugh currently polling in the high-single digits. It is conceivable that North Carolina’s match-up will be the nation’s most-expensive Senate race and one of its most competitive.
Carolina Journal’s chief reporter on the race will be Associate Editor Dan Way, a veteran newspaperman who also covered the GOP primary in which Tillis was the victor. Way joined CJ in 2012 after serving as editor of the Chapel Hill Herald, metro editor of the Durham Herald-Sun, and in editorial or management jobs at newspapers in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
Way will also be coordinating CJ’s coverage of the competitive races for North Carolina House and Senate, just as he did in 2012. But the main in-house reporter on the legislative contests will be Associate Editor Barry Smith, who spent 33 years as a reporter for the Freedom Newspaper chain in North Carolina, including more than a decade as its capital bureau chief. Smith will also cover the state’s judicial elections this year, including high-profile races for state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
Among other CJ writers and correspondents covering legislative and other elections this year are Sam Hieb, Leslee Kulba, and Donna Martinez — all of whom currently serve as regional bloggers for JLF. Hieb is a Greensboro-based freelancer who previously worked as a reporter at Triad Business News. Kulba is a longtime reporter for the Asheville Tribune and other newspapers in Western North Carolina.
Martinez, co-host of our weekly newsmagazine “Carolina Journal Radio,” formerly worked in marketing, public relations, and writing for media outlets such as WUNC-TV and the Arizona Republic. In addition to her work for Carolina Journal, Martinez reports and hosts programs for WPTF-AM and the North Carolina News Network.
The other co-host of “Carolina Journal Radio,” Associate Editor Mitch Kokai, also plays a pivotal role in CJ’s election coverage as a videographer, blogger, and reporter. Kokai began his broadcast-journalism career as news director at WENC-AM in Whiteville before serving in the same roles at WCHL-AM in Chapel Hill and WPTF-AM in Raleigh. Before joining CJ in 2005, Kokai spent four years as chief state government reporter at News 14 Carolina, Time Warner’s statewide TV news channel.
Our team of editors and reporters is supervised by Carolina Journal Managing Editor Rick Henderson. Before joining CJ, Henderson spent nine years as an editorial writer and columnist for daily newspapers in Denver, Las Vegas, and Riverside, California. He previously served as a reporter and editor for Investor’s Business Daily and the Los Angeles Business Journal. From 1989 to 1998, Henderson worked for California-based Reason magazine in separate stints as managing editor and Washington bureau chief.
Rick’s boss is Carolina Journal publisher Jon Ham. He joined the staff in 2005 after serving as managing editor of the Durham Herald-Sun. He spent 19 years at the Herald-Sun, also serving as its director of digital publishing, after working for newspapers in Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama. Ham also spent four years as press secretary to former Alabama Gov. Fob James.
The CJ team has a wealth of experience covering political campaigns in North Carolina. But that doesn’t mean they know it all — or would ever dream of claiming that they do. They welcome reader comments, suggestions, and requests for corrections.
When it comes to the 2014 elections in North Carolina, we’ve got you covered.
John Hood is president of the John Locke Foundation.