To paraphrase Alice, who used the term to describe her adventures in Wonderland, election politics in America are getting “curiouser and curiouser.” North Carolina has been in the forefront of innovation and implementation.

Modern elections began evolving in 1973, when the conservative North Carolina Congressional Club, headed by lawyers Tom Ellis and Carter Wrenn, brought sophisticated and then-unheard-of techniques to political campaigns. Computers had become more commonplace but were infrequently used in the political world. The Congressional Club assembled hundreds of thousands of contributor names into a database, then employed mass direct mail marketing (again a relatively new concept) to raise millions of dollars in support of Republicans Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan, Lauch Faircloth and other conservative candidates. Upwards of 70% of those funds came from out of state.

Tom Campbell is a retired North Carolina broadcaster and columnist who has covered North Carolina public policy issues since 1965. Contact him at tomcamp@carolinabroadcasting.com

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