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Editorial: A tidal wave of change

This is a stunning moment in the history of the United States. By a convincing margin, voters have elected the nation’s first black president, a feat few would have predicted even a year ago. But Barack Obama offers voters much more than a darker skin color. In a nation battered by war and recession, Obama inspires fresh hope that the United States can regain its footing and stand strong again.
The majority of Rowan County voters will not agree with that, considering that McCain was the overwhelming favorite here. And the state split evenly between the two. After a long campaign that boiled down to some bitter rhetoric in the end, Obama’s biggest challenge may be pulling the nation together ó and convincing McCain supporters that he is not as radical or scary as some claimed.
Many undercurrents lie beneath the surface of Election 2008. Some observations:
– U.S. Elizabeth Dole probably will blame Obama’s coattails and President Bush’s dismal record for her loss, and they certainly played a part. The national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee invested heavily in her opponent. But the clincher for many voters was the “Godless Americans” television commercial that implied Democrat Kay Hagan was an atheist. The Dole campaign stepped over the line with that one. Dole’s lifetime of gracious public service ends with a black mark. She should have known better.
– In the race for Rowan County Board of Commissioners, voters proved once again that they have no trouble splitting a ticket. Republican Carl Ford and Democrat Raymond Coltrain won the two seats, with incumbent Republican Jim Sides not far behind. Ford gained favor by toning down the ultra-conservative talk that was more typical of his last run for office. Not having a viable second Democratic candidate also helped. Sides proved he’s still popular, just not quite popular enough to win. The real miracle may be that Coltrain prevailed, considering how heavily Rowan leans toward Republicans. This could be an interesting board of commissioners.
– Legislative races here went the way you’d expect, with incumbents Rep. Lorene Coates and Sen. Andrew Brock winning re-election. The power of the incumbency remains insurmountable in legislative races.
– Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory made an excellent run for governor and proved that being from the Great State of Mecklenburg is not quite the albatross today that it was in years past. Still, his popularity was not great enough to surpass Democrat Beverly Perdue, who had eight years as lieutenant governor to establish name recognition. North Carolinians will be looking to her for fresh leadership.
A new president, a new governor, a new senator and new county commissioners ó a tidal wave of change is washing across the landscape. Considering the woes of the past few years, that sounds like a good thing. Bring it on.

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