Journalism professor Ferrel Guillory is an expert on Southern politics and will teach a course in the fall on elections reporting. He founded UNC’s Program on Public Life to link academic resources and North Carolina’s public leaders.
Daily Tar Heel: Has the dynamic of the Republican presidential race in the South changed since Rick Santorum dropped out?
Ferrel Guillory: When former Senator Santorum dropped out, clearly that solidified former Governor (Mitt) Romney as the frontrunner. There will be less emphasis on Republican primaries to come, including North Carolina. There are still a considerable number of delegates from the South, and it looks like Newt Gingrich, former House speaker, is still going to campaign. It’s hard to see either Gingrich or Ron Paul knocking Romney off his course toward the nomination.
DTH: What is your outlook on the chances Amendment One will pass?
FG: Amendment One is an expression of two things. One is the overlay of cultural conservatism in North Carolina, a long-standing feature of the state and its society. It’s also an expression of Republican legislators’ interests in elevating social issues during the 2012 campaign. Polls have been showing strong support for the amendment and I think the question is whether the push back from business leaders, civic leaders and legal scholars will build enough countermovement between now and May to derail it. The amendment adds language to the (N.C.) Constitution, and I think we ought to be careful as a society when dealing with our constitutions. Our constitutions are about spelling out people’s rights and framing the construct of the government, and we ought to not be trifling with the Constitution for whatever political or emotional trends of the moment.