Wednesday, December 17, 2014

AP story becomes fodder for Pat McCrory fundraising appeal

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory's office hit back Wednesday after an Associated Press story reported that he had taken what it described as ethically questionable payouts from an online mortgage company, of which he was a director.

His campaign hit back too -- with a fundraising letter.

"We need your help," the campaign emailed supporters. "The media is at it again. This time it's the Associated Press. Yesterday they released a story attacking the Governor with false claims and innuendo made by anonymous people with no regard to the facts....

"Help Governor McCrory fight back and ensure that the citizens of North Carolina know the real story. Donate today ..."

The appeal was signed by "Team McCrory."

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest ramps up 2016 campaign

Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is pushing his re-election campaign into a higher gear with a Thursday night fundraiser in Charlotte.

Forest's fundraiser will be at the Morehead Inn. Sponsors include former lawmaker Ed McMahan, former GOP mayoral candidate Edwin Peacock and Catawba County beer distributor Dean Proctor.

Spokesman Hal Weatherman says the event is the first event in a concerted push to get ready for the 2016 campaign. Forest had just over $20,000 in his campaign account at the end of June.

"We're completely focused on running for re-election," Weatherman said.

Forest has deep Charlotte ties. He's the son of Sue Myrick, the former mayor and longtime member of Congress. He grew up in town and attended McClintock Middle School and East Mecklenburg High. As a teen, he moved to Columbia but eventually returned and studied architecture at UNC Charlotte.

His fundraiser comes the same week another Charlottean, Gov. Pat McCrory, released a video that effectively kicks off his own re-election campaign.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Jennifer Roberts gets a jump on mayoral race

Democrat Jennifer Roberts is getting a headstart on next year's mayoral race -- and on her neighbor -- with a Wednesday night fundraiser.

Roberts is the former Mecklenburg commissioners' chair who announced for mayor in May. She also lobbied city council members for the job after the resignation of Patrick Cannon, who last month entered federal prison for corruption.

Roberts lost out to fellow Democrat Dan Clodfelter, who happens to live two doors from her on Clement Avenue.

Roberts' had already raised more than $59,000 through June. Her Wednesday night fundraiser at Chima Brazlian Steakhouse is attracting some prominent Democratic donors, and at least one Republican.

Names on the invitation include longtime donor Sarah Belk Gambrell, former Charlotte Motor Speedway President Humpy Wheeler, businessman Bertram Scott, restaurateur Stefan Latorre and lawyer Bill Diehl. There's also attorney Scott Syfert, a Republican.

Dan McCorkle, Clodfelter's longtime campaign manager, said he expects the mayor to file papers this week for a new committee. That would allow him to raise money for an expected mayoral run. A former state senator, he could transfer $42,000 from his state account to a local committee.

Clodfelter and Roberts could be joined in a race by one or more City Council Democrats.

"I think the party’s pretty split at this point," says Liz Johnson, a former county Democratic chair and a Roberts supporter. "But I think Jennifer maybe has shown proven leadership for a longer period of time and has a style a good number of people are comfortable with.”

Friday, November 21, 2014

In speaker's race, Leo Daughtry hopes second time's the charm

The last time Republican Rep. Leo Daughtry ran for N.C. House speaker, it precipitated one of the biggest legislative upheavals in state history.

Now the Smithfield lawyer is running again. He's one of six GOP lawmakers in a race that House Republicans will decide Saturday at a meeting in Asheboro.

In November 2002, Republicans had just won a slim, 61-59 majority in House elections. A split GOP caucus nominated Daughtry for speaker. Not everybody was happy.

Critics, led by GOP Rep. Richard Morgan, continued to criticize Daughtry while scheming with Democratic leader Jim Black. With the caucus still divided in late January, Daughtry stepped aside in the name of unity. Republicans chose veteran Republican George Holmes as would-be speaker.

But the bottom was falling out for Republicans. Rep. Michael Decker made a surprise party shift, giving Democrats one more vote. And Morgan cut a deal with Black that made them co-speakers and sparked a long-running feud within the Republican Party.

Turned out Black had given Decker cash, campaign contributions and favors to switch parties. Both would go to prison on federal corruption charges. Morgan became a pariah to many Republicans and lost his seat in a 2006 GOP primary.

Monday, November 17, 2014

White smoke for House Republicans Saturday?

Republican House members gather in Asheboro Saturday to pick a new leader, a process that one legislator compares to another celebrated conclave.

"It's like electing a Pope in the Sistine Chapel," says Rep. Charles Jeter, a Huntersville Republican. "You cast secret ballots. Nobody knows how you vote.

"The only thing is, we don't put up white smoke when we're done."

Six Republicans, including three from the greater Charlotte area, are running to replace GOP Speaker Thom Tillis, who was elected to the U.S. Senate. Republicans will meet at Randolph County Community College Saturday to nominate a candidate for speaker and elect other caucus leaders.

Running for speaker are Republican Reps. Tim Moore of Kings Mountain, John Blust of Greensboro, Justin Burr of Albemarle, Leo Daughtry of Smithfield,  Bryan Holloway of King and Mitchell Setzer of Catawba.

Like the cardinals in Rome, Republicans may have to go through several ballots before anyone gets the 38 votes needed. The winner would face a vote of the full House in January, though with 74 votes, a GOP candidate with broad party support will be the odds-on favorite.

Jeter is among other Republicans running for leadership positions. A candidate for GOP conference leader, a job that would give him oversight of the next elections, he's the only one running unopposed.

For Jeter, re-elected this month with 52.5 percent of the vote, that's welcome news.

"I'm certainly grateful that my election is unopposed," he says. "Being in a Democratic district where you're always going to be opposed, (it's nice) to finally be in an election unopposed."

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Spanish-language ad targets Tillis

My colleague Franco Ordonez reports that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis is the target of a new Spanish-language ad directed at North Carolina Latino voters.
The 30-second spot, that will be aired starting Friday, by liberal advocacy group People for the American Way says Tillis “doesn’t respect the values of our community.” It also targets his positions on education and minimum wage.

“Republicans like Thom Tillis keep blocking opportunities for us, and that kind of disrespect we will not allow!,” the ad states in Spanish.
Latino voters make up less than 2 percent of the electorate in North Carolina, but some experts say they could be the difference in the close race between Tillis, the Republican state House speaker, and Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.
The ad makes no reference to immigration. Tillis opposes a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally, while Hagan supported a Senate bill that provided such a path. She, however, opposed efforts by President Obama to issue an executive order that would allow more undocumented immigrants to remain and work in the country legally.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hagan stimulus money focus of new $1 million ad campaign

Freedom Partners Action Fund plans to launch a $1 million ad campaign targeting Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan over allegations that her family benefited from the 2009 stimulus program.

The group, funded by the conservative Koch brothers, announced the ad campaign Thursday.

The ad is the first broadcast response to a story first reported last month by Politico.

Politico cited public records in reporting that JDC Manufacturing, a company co-owned by Hagan's husband, Chip, got nearly $390,000 in grants and tax credits under the stimulus law, which Kay Hagan voted for.

Hagan's campaign said at the time that Hagan was not involved with the business and consulted an ethics attorney, who advised that there was no conflict of interest.

But the Freedom Partners' ad says, "The Hagans got richer and we paid the price."

Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner says the family did not profit from the transaction.

"Speaker Tillis and his allies are desperate to say or do anything that will keep the focus off of his failed record in the General Assembly," Weiner said Thursday. "So now they are resorting to false attacks on Kay's family. Kay's only involvement was to seek the opinion of an ethics attorney who found it would be appropriate for her husband's company to receive these grants just like hundreds of other North Carolina companies did."

Caitlin Legacki, a spokeswoman for JDC, said the federal money was monitored by inspectors and auditors. "Kay Hagan had no role during any of this process,: she said. "Under no circumstances did JDC profit from these grants and any assertion otherwise is false."

A 12th District first? A Republican outraises the Democrat

Republican Vince Coakley did something no Republican has done before in the 12th Congressional District: Raise more money in a quarter than his Democratic opponent.

Coakley raised $172,000 in the third quarter to Democrat Alma Adams' $158,000, according to new reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. He also had more cash on hand at the end of September, $105,000 to Adams' $64,000.

Not that money is a big advantage in the district, which is overwhelmingly Democratic.

Adams, a state legislator from Greensboro, has raised more for the entire election: $666,000 to Coakley's $291,000. But she had a competitive primary.

Both are running for the seat held for two decades by Charlotte Democrat Mel Watt, who left to head the National Housing Finance Agency. Each of their names will actually appear on the ballot twice. Once to fill Watt's unexpired term and once for a full term.

Adams and Coakley, a Charlotte broadcaster, are about as far apart on issues as candidates can be. Both tapped national fundraising bases.