Politics & Government

Meet the man who delivered North Carolina to Obama

RALEIGH, N.C. — At an election night boiler room at Cary's upscale Umstead Hotel, dozens of operatives of Barack Obama's presidential campaign watched as North Carolina went blue for the first time in nearly a third of a century.

Watching with special satisfaction was Marc Farinella, 50, who cut his teeth on Chicago politics. Farinella was the chief architect of Obama's victory in the state.

The North Carolina race was so close that the networks refused to call the state for Obama. But Farinella had a network of up to 400 paid staffers across the state, and he knew which precincts had not yet reported.

So shortly after midnight, Farinella called Obama's headquarters in Chicago and told them they had won North Carolina. He then headed to downtown Raleigh to celebrate with other Obama supporters.

Farinella says the Obama victory, which relied on grass-roots campaigning, early voting and use of the Internet, will have an impact beyond Election Day.

"It will change politics in the way we campaign for the foreseeable future," he said.

Few would have bet on an Obama victory in North Carolina when Farinella arrived in Raleigh in July.

North Carolina had voted Republican in nine of the last 10 presidential contests. In 2004, the state gave President Bush a 12-point victory, even with former Tar Heel Sen. John Edwards on the Democratic ticket as the vice presidential candidate.

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