Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Big names at Foxx fundraiser

Charlotte Democrat Anthony Foxx isn't officially a candidate for Charlotte mayor. But that's not stopping him from holding a high-powered fundraiser next week.

Foxx will be the guest of honor at a Tuesday fundraiser at the southeast Charlotte home of Cameron and Dee Dee Harris. Among those in attendance will be his honorary campaign chairman, former Bank of America chairman Hugh McColl.

Democrats haven't won the mayor's job since 1987. But Foxx and others are optimistic about the chances after this month's election, when Charlotte and Mecklenburg County voters rejected seven-term Mayor Pat McCrory in favor of Bev Perdue for governor.

"I’m obviously very bullish on Charlotte and bullish about my prospects for success," Foxx says. "I'm delighted that so much early support has come to me and I hope to grow it over the next year.”

McCrory hasn't announced his plans. Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Graham has hinted that he's keeping his options open.

Foxx said he expects "a strong crowd," with guests contributing up to $4,000.

"We hope to fill the house up,” he said.

That would be a windfall. The Harris's live in a 23,466-square-foot house.

A postscript:

Yesterday I blogged about Charlotte's Anne Udall, whose brother and cousin were both elected to the U.S. Senate this month from Colorado and New Mexico respectively. She came close to having a third relative in the Senate.

Republican Gordon Smith of Oregon, who narrowly lost his re-election bid, is Udall's second cousin.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

For Anne Udall, politics is all in the family

Charlotte's Anne Udall had a lot to celebrate on Nov. 4.

She was with her brother Mark when he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Colorado. The same night, her cousin Tom won a Senate election in his home of New Mexico. Both are Democrats.

Anne Udall (left), executive director of the Lee Institute, had spent the week before the election bouncing around Colorado on her brother's campaign bus with him and some of their other siblings. The night he won was emotional for them all.

"It was very humbling and exciting on a lot of different levels," says Anne, 54.

Mark Udall's campaign carried echoes of their father's races. The late Mo Udall was a liberal Arizona congressman who ran for president in 1976, losing the primary to Jimmy Carter.

"It reminded me of dad on a couple levels," says Anne. "One, I think Mark is really committed to this work and it really matters to him.

"The second thing that was really very moving to me was see this whole generation of 20-year-olds really committed to Mark's candidacy. And that’s what Dad did. ... These kids they don’t know Dad. He's a name in a book. But they know Mark and they have the same connection with Mark that I think our generation had with Dad. So that was really neat.”

The day after the election, Anne and her brother went for a hike in the Colorado mountains. "That's what Udalls do when they win," she told a reporter at the time. "We go outdoors. We hike."

Her cousin Tom is the son of Stewart Udall, a former Arizona congressman who served as Secretary of the Interior under presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

Anne plans to go to Washington in January for the swearing-in. She expects a family reunion -- with one-fiftieth of the Senate in the family.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ray Warren's odyssey: From Jesse Helms to Barack Obama

When I started covering the General Assembly 23 years ago, Ray Warren had just been elected to his first term in the House. He was a young Republican lawyer from Matthews swept in with the Reagan landslide of 1984.

He eventually became minority leader and in 1996, outpolled all N.C. Republicans in his losing bid for the state Supreme Court. He came out of the closet in 1998 and left his party a year later. Now, in the latest chapter of a long odyssey, he's a tax assessor's attorney in suburban Washington. Here are his observations about the election:

"Election night in Washington was surreal. My partner and I watched the returns at Nellie's, a nominally gay sports bar packed with a racially diverse gay and straight crowd. Each time a state fell into the blue column the bar - and bars up and down the U Street corridor - erupted in cheers.

"There were hundreds in the bar -- men and women of all races. When CNN announced that Obama was elected at 11:00 pandemonium broke out. We jumped shouted and hugged perfect strangers. It was like the end of World War II or some other great unifying event.

"A bit later, when Obama gave his speech in Chicago I, like many others, was in tears. All the years of Jesse Helms, hate and division had been defeated. Not only the nation, but my home state and native state (Virginia and North Carolina) had been part of the redemption.

"It was an unexpected and powerful emotional moment that overwhelmed me. Seeing my tears, a young black woman silently reached over and took my arm as if to say "it will be OK". I was struck by the immense irony of that act of simple kindness. On the most important night of the nation's history to African Americans, a young black woman was comforting me, an old white southern man, overcome with the emotion of the moment.

"As we left to catch a cab back to Virginia, the street was alive with impromptu celebrations. Horns honked, people danced in the street and there were shouts of joy. A friend texted me to say that he and hundreds were gathered in front of the White House shouting 'yes we can'. And for once, it was true. We can.

"And we did."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Brother, can you spare $3 million?

Six years ago, Republican Elizabeth Dole reacted with alarm when Democratic Senate opponent Erskine Bowles, a wealthy former investment banker, dug deep into his own pocket.

"TAKE A LOOK AT THIS," she wrote in an e-mail to thousands of supporters in October 2002. "My opponent loaned nearly $3 million of his personal wealth to his own campaign We expect him to use even more of his personal wealth to finance his negative television and radio ads."

"I do not have that kind of personal wealth," Dole wrote. "So, to continue setting the record straight I must be able to count on the generous support of friends like you."

Dole's electronic plea raised thousands of dollars for her campaign.

Now Dole, running for a second term against Democrat Kay Hagan, has loaned her own campaign $3 million.

According to an analysis of disclosure forms by the Center for Responsive Politics, only six senators are wealthier than Dole. She had holdings valued at between $18.5 million and $69.2 million.

In 2002, she reported family assets of up to $23 million.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gas wars in the 8th District

One brochure shows gas pumps covered with red bags that say "Sorry, Out of Service." Another shows long lines at a station where regular sells for $4.59 and high-test has run out.

One message. Two candidates.

The first is a mailer from 8th District Democrat Larry Kissell attacking Republican Rep. Robin Hayes. It accuses him of voting for tax breaks for oil companies and owning millions of dollars in oil company stocks.

The second mailer is from Hayes. Over the photo of gas lines, it says, "Larry Kissell's extreme liberal energy policies get us nowhere."

Kissell, it says, opposes expanded off-shore oil drilling. But Kissell's brochure says he believes in drilling too, though not necessarily off the N.C. coast.

"Drill on American soil and in the Gulf first," it says, "selling American oil to American consumers."

As my colleague Lisa Zagaroli reported last month, Kissell's position is "drill here, drill now." But by "here" he means the U.S., not North Carolina. And he wants oil companies to use leases they already have in the Gulf.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Outside groups pour more money into N.C. Senate race

Two groups are pouring big money into North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race with new ads attacking Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

The Employee Freedom Action Committee, an anti-union group, is spending $1 million on online ads and mailings that criticize Hagan, according to spokesman Tim Miller.

The group is attacking her support for legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize. It’s also spending $2 million for a TV ad featuring former
Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern criticizing the legislation. The ad is running in North Carolina and a half-dozen other states.

The committee is affiliated with The Center for Union Facts. It opposes the legislation, which would allow workers to unionize by signing cards instead of through a secret-ballot election.

“Kay supports it as a way to level the playing field for working families,” said Hagan spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan. “This bill simply allows the workers, not the employers, to decide which method to use, and stiffens penalties for intimidation.”

Meanwhile, a veterans’ group is spending $200,000 on TV ads saying Dole voted against body armor for troops.

The ad by features a man identified as an Iraq war veteran firing shots from an AK-47 through a flak jacket given out early in the war. He also fires into more modern body armor, which stops the shots. It claims Dole twice voted against the more modern armor.

The ad appears to be the same one used in 2006 in a Virginia Senate race.

According to the watchdog site, the votes came on a 2003 amendment that would have appropriated just over $1 billion for unspecified “National Guard and Reserve Equipment” but made no mention of body armor. The amendment lost on a generally party-line vote.

The group called the ad false.

“America’s active duty personnel and veterans have no greater friend than Elizabeth Dole,” said campaign spokesman Dan McLagan. “To accuse her of causing them harm is the lowest form of sleazeball politics.”

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Rock Hill author watches Ayers' interview go viral

Much of the recent commentary on 1960s radical William Ayers has included a quote from a 1994 book.

"I'm a radical, Leftist, small 'c' communist," Ayers said at the time.

It was quoted in a Wall Street Journal piece last month by Stanley Kurtz of the National Review and picked up by conservative bloggers as Republicans try to tie Ayers with Democrat Barack Obama. Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists."

The quote about Ayers came from the book "Sixties Radicals" by Rock Hill writer Ron Chepesiuk, a former Fulbright Fellow and Winthrop University faculty member.

Chepesiuk devoted a chapter to the one-time member of the Weather Underground. Its title was "Radical Educator." It talked about how Ayers had gone on to be a prominent educational adviser. He's taken part in programs at the University of South Carolina College of Education.

Chepesiuk, who interviewed Ayers at his home near the University of Chicago, doesn't defend Ayers' violent past, but believes the comments in his book have been taken out of context.

“It sounds like he’s an unrepentant domestic terrorist, that he’s still living the philosophy and mode of action of the '60s," he told me. "He’s left that all behind. He’s still a social radical. But it’s not a question of trying to violently overthrow the system. He’s trying to change the system from within."

Obama and Ayers were both involved in a 1990s education project called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Obama has denied any close association. Critics say he should not have associated at all with the former radical whose group took credit for several bombings.

"We're not talking about him running around with a domestic terrorist," Chepesiuk says. "We're talking about a respectable educator.”

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mike Easley as Jerry Seinfeld

It was admittedly a tough act to follow.

Barack Obama had brought the wildly partisan crowd of Democrats to their feet Saturday night with a surprise appearance at their annual dinner at the Grove Park Inn. But when his turn came, N.C. Gov. Mike Easley was in rare form.

-- He said Obama, who was raised in Hawaii and went to Harvard Law, is a good fit for Southern Democrats.

"Barack," he said, "is Hawaiian for Bubba."

-- Riffing off Sarah Palin's line at the GOP convention, he described Democratic Senate candidate Kay Hagan.

"You know the difference between Kay Hagan and a pit bull?" he asked. "Nothin'."

-- Looking down the dais at Rep. Heath Shuler from nearby Waynesville, he took note of the congressman's Republican opponent, Asheville psychologist Carl Mumpower.

"I'm asking you," Easley said, "who needs the therapy?"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Black caucus endorsement a 'coup' for Roberts?

A few months ago, in the heat of the Nick Mackey controversy, some black Democrats vowed to punish Mecklenburg commissioners chairman Jennifer Roberts at the polls.

Roberts, after party activists chose Mackey as sheriff in a disputed -- and later overturned -- party election, was among those who voted to make his erstwhile rival Chipp Bailey sheriff. "There will be some awfully angry African Americans in this community," predicted one black Democrat.

But at Sunday night's closed Black Political Caucus meeting, Roberts ended up with one of the group's three endorsements for at-large seats. Democratic Party chair Joel Ford said this morning that there was spirited debate. One of the people pushing the endorsement of Roberts and Dan Murrey, both white Democrats, was Harold Cogdell, the only black at-large Democrat.

"By joining with all three and by unifying the ticket .... it's a no-brainer, it's a slam dunk," said Ford. "It's the dream team."

Without strong African American support for Roberts, or for that matter Murrey, both could lose. It also would threaten continued Democratic control of the county board.

Republican commissioner Dan Ramirez wasn't impressed by the caucus vote. Virtually every candidate endorsed is a Democrat.

"They lost all credibility as a caucus," he said. They should call themselves the black Democratic caucus."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Kissell -- Hunt-ing for votes in Charlotte

They both wore white shirts and ties, with rolled up sleeves and earnest looks. It was hard to tell who the candidate was this afternoon as Democrats Jim Hunt and Larry Kissell walked door to door in Charlotte's Cherry community.

Hunt was helping Kissell in his 8th District race against Republican Rep. Robin Hayes. Before an evening fundraiser, they campaigned in the mostly African American neighborhood near uptown.

"Folks, I'm down here because we need to make some changes in Washington," Hunt told two men pulling out of a driveway on Cherry Street. "Haven't they messed it up up there? We need a change."

Hunt went on to tell people that Kissell, a former textile worker, "knows about the working people." Hayes, he reminded them, is the fifth richest person in Congress.

A few people greeted Hunt as a celebrity. Some appeared to barely know him.

Bounding up Mike Pugh's front porch, Hunt extended his hand.

"I'm former Gov. Jim Hunt," he said. "I bet you voted for me a few times, didn't you?"

"No," replied Pugh, 55. This is the first time I've ever voted."

Friday, September 26, 2008

North Carolina the new Ohio?

Could North Carolina in 2008 play the role of Ohio in 2004?

That's what NBC political analyst Chuck Todd says he's hearing from folks in Barack Obama's campaign.

“(They) tell me they think in four weeks we will be talking about North Carolina more than we will be Ohio,” Todd told Dave Wagner of Flashpoint, a public affairs show on NewsChannel 36.

“They do believe the voter registration advantage that they have had in this state which started with the very competitive primary during the spring is allowed them to change the face of the electorate.”

You can catch Flashpoint Sunday at 10:30 a.m. In addition to Todd, the show features Davidson political scientist Susan Roberts, and me.

In his segment, Todd also talks about North Carolina's U.S. Senate campaign. Political analyst Charlie Cook also weighs in on the race in a column today.

Republican Senate hopes are looking more dismal around the county, he says, adding that GOP prospects "in Minnesota, Oregon, and North Carolina have dimmed a bit in the past month or two." To read the entire column, click here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two new polls show tight race in N.C.

Two new polls show a tight presidential race in North Carolina.

A CNN/Time poll released this afternoon shows Republican John McCain leading Democrat Barack Obama 48 percent to 47 percent among registered N.C. voters. That's well with within the 3.5-point margin of error.

A survey of registered voters by the Raleigh-based Civitas Institute found McCain ahead 43 percent to 42 percent. Libertarian Bob Barr got 2 percent. When poll-takers asked undecided voters who they're leaning to, McCain's lead moved to 47 percent to 44 percent, with 8 percent undecided.

The margin of error in the Civitas poll is 4.2 percentage points.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Joe Biden: Lots of walking

When Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden was in Charlotte Sunday, he ridiculed Republican John McCain's statement that the economy had made progress under President Bush.

"I could walk from here to Greensboro,” he told a crowd at a Phillip O. Berry Academy. “I wouldn't run into one person who thought we'd made economic progress unless I ran into John McCain.”

A few days earlier, he was in New Hampshire.

"I can walk from here to Manchester, and I doubt I'll find anyone who said the fundamentals are strong and the economy's roaring, unless I run into John McCain."

This week he was in Michigan.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I could walk from here to Lansing, and I wouldn't run into a single person who thought our economy was doing well, unless I ran into John McCain,” he said.

If he ever DID run into McCain, they wouldn't necessarily talk about their political differences. Biden always prefaces his criticisms with testimony about their long personal friendship. In Charlotte, he talked about a call he made eight years ago after McCain was roughed up in the S.C. GOP primary.

"Where do you want me John?" he recalled asking. "I'll show up where ever you want to testify for your integrity and character."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Charlie Cook: Headed to a 'photo finish'

ELON -- By any objective measure, Democrats should be running away with this presidential election, political analyst Charlie Cook said this noon.

The economy is down. The party of an unpopular president is trying to stay in power. The Democratic candidate has a wide edge in money and field organization.

"Pratically every factor you point to suggests (Barack) Obama ought to win this relatively easily," said Cook, publisher of the Washington-based Cook Political Report. "But he hasn't been able to put it away."

Cook, at Elon University for a speech tonight, spoke to around two dozen reporters and editors this noon in a political science lab. In addition to the presidential race, he also talked about North Carolina's U.S. Senate race, and why incumbent Elizabeth Dole faces a tougher than expected race.

Cook said while Obama will do well with black, Hispanic and young voters, he hasn't been able to close the deal with white voters over 50. Because "They've never met anybody like Barack Obama .... We're headed toward I think a photo finish," Cook said.

He said the dynamics that are helping Obama help Democrat Kay Hagan in her race against Dole, who at one time looked almost invincible.

"A year ago, we never thought we'd be talking about it," he said. "It's not about (Hagan) It's a referendum up or down on Elizabeth Dole, and to some extent Republicans. And Kay Hagan is a vessel....

"In a normal year, Elizabeth Dole wouldn't have anything to worry about. This isn't a normal year."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Edwards canceling all appearances

Looks like we won't be hearing from former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards for a while.

Edwards has canceled a scheduled Oct. 14 speech at my alma mater, the University of Illinois. He's also canceled appearances at New York's Hofstra University and Salem State College in Massachusetts.

The Illini Union Board, which was going to pay Edwards $65,000 for the speech, posted this statement from Edwards on their Web site:

“I have decided to avoid any public engagements until after the election in November. Nothing is more important than electing Barack Obama and Joe Biden. I don’t want my appearance at these events to be a distraction from the important issues of the election, or from the important purpose of these meetings.”

Edwards' star has fallen since he admitted to an affair with a former campaign worker, an affair first reported by the National Enquirer.

This week Enquirer editor David Perel said the same reporters -- what he called "the Edwards team" -- was in Alaska looking into members of Gov. Sarah Palin's family.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joe, Strom and Jesse

Republicans were quick to attack Barack Obama's choice of Joe Biden as his running mate today, just as Biden jumped into his role of partisan attack dog during a speech in Springfield, Illinois.

But the Delaware senator, after three decades in the Senate, learned to get along with even those Republican colleagues he disagreed with so vehemently, including two from the Carolinas.

In 2003, Biden delivered a eulogy at the Columbia funeral of longtime GOP Sen. and one-time segregationist Strom Thurmond.

"I disagreed deeply with Strom on the issue of civil rights and on many other issues, but I watched him change. We became good friends; I'm not sure exactly how or why it happened. I grew to know him. I learned from him, and I watched him change, oh so subtly.

"Like all of us, he started off as a product of his time. But he understood people; he cared for them. He knew how to read people, how to move them, how to get things done."

Last October, I covered an appearance by Biden in Rock Hill. It was during the senator's own short-lived presidential campaign. When the crowd was gone, he came up to me, the only N.C. reporter there.

"Tell me one thing," he said, putting a hand on my shoulder. "How's Jesse?"

Like Thurmond, Jesse Helms was Biden's polar opposite in so many ways. But that didn't stop the two men, colleagues on the foreign relations committee, from sharing a mutual respect.

Last month, Biden was one of a handful of prominent Democrats at Helms' funeral in Raleigh.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Enquiring into Edwards affair

If Democrat John Edwards thought last week's interview with ABC would end the stories about his affair with a former campaign worker, he was wrong.

A one-time friend of Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, has been appearing on national TV alleging the affair lasted longer than Edwards suggested. He said in a statement that it lasted for only "a short time" 2006.

But Pigeon O'Brien, who describes herself as Hunter's former friend, told ABC and CBS that the affair began months before Hunter was hired. She said Hunter referred to the former N.C. senator as "Love Lips."

"She said that they had a very deep connection and that they were spending time together in a romantic and sexual way, very, you know, very early on and in a very intense way," O'Brien told ABC.

And the National Enquirer, which broke the story of the affair last October, plans to publish additional details this week.

Editor David Perel says the paper will address Edwards' denials that he knew about payments made to Hunter by Dallas lawyer Fred Baron, his friend and former campaign finance chairman. Here's what Edwards told ABC:

BOB WOODRUFF: There are reports that you have tried to cover up. They call it alleged hush money. That there was money paid to try, to cover up this affair. Was there?

EDWARDS: Uh, this is what I can tell you. I've never paid a dime of money to any of the people that are involved. I've never asked anybody to pay a dime of money, never been told that any money's been paid. Nothing has been done at my request. So if the allegation is that somehow I participated in the payment of money -- that is a lie. An absolute lie, which is typical of these types of publications.

WOODRUFF: You never even heard about that before?

EDWARDS: I've heard about it from reporters like you just in the last few days. It's the first I hear anything about it.

"We’re going to report this week ... that Edwards absolutely knew that Rielle was being paid and that Rielle told him she was being paid,” Perel says. "I don’t think that passed the smell test.”

Perel dismisses Edwards' claim that he had "no idea who that baby is" after the Enquirer published a photo it purported to be Hunter's baby during a late-night meeting at the Beverly Hilton last month.

"That was ridiculous," Perel said. "I have the advantage of watching that interview and knowing what I know. That's 100 percent Rielle's baby and he’s holding that baby at the Beverly Hilton.”

A lot of questions remain, including the whereabouts of former Edwards aide Andrew Young, who last year claimed Hunter's baby was his.

But Perel and his often-maligned paper, dismissed by Edwards as "tabloid trash," are enjoying the moment.

"Do (we) feel vindicated?" he says. "The answer to that would be yes."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hillary protesters greet Dean in Charlotte

Around two dozen Hillary Clinton supporters, some carrying signs saying "Dump Dean," attempted to shout down Democratic national chairman Howard Dean during an appearance in Charlotte today.

The protesters, who described themselves as members of a group called "Charlotte Front and Center," shouted and waved signs as Dean spoke to about 150 people at a voter registration rally on West Boulevard.

The demonstrators said they were protesting what they said was a decision not to put Clinton's name in nomination at next month's Democratic convention.

Dean was briefly drowned out by shouts such as "I own my vote."

"I'm gonna let these folks shout a little bit because I can't hear you folks," Dean said, pausing his speech for a short time.

"There will be a roll call vote at the convention if Hillary Clinton wants one," he went on. "We all respect each other and we certainly respect Sen. Clinton. This is a unified party. It is not easy to be on the losing side and I know ... because four years ago, I was on the losing side."

The shouts continued intermittently. When Dean mentioned what he called "the biggest job for President Obama," protesters shouted "He's not president!"

Dean went on to urge the larger crowd of Democrats to help register what he said is an estimated 1 million unregistered North Carolinians.

Speaking to reporters later on his bus, he dismissed the protesters.

"I'm not sure all of them are Clinton supporters," he said. "I think some of them are having fun at the Democrats' expense. I think shouting through somebody's speech is low-class."

(The photo is from the group's Web site.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Did Edwards' VP chances take tabloid hit?

As the handicapping of vice presidential candidates continues, Democrat John Edwards has kept alive speculation that he’s in the running.

“I'm not seeking the job,” he told reporters in Denver this week. “But anything Senator Obama would ask me to do in his campaign or presidency I would consider seriously.”

But has a tabloid newspaper sunk any chances he had?

For two days, reactions to a story posted this week by the National Enquirer have spilled into the blogosphere and at least one network TV show.

The Enquirer, which months ago alleged an affair by former N.C. senator, this week said its reporters caught him having a rendezvous with the woman, Rielle Hunter, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.

The paper said Hunter had two rooms at the hotel Monday night. It said a team of reporters watched Edwards go into the hotel at 9:45 p.m. and then ambushed him on his way out at 2:40 a.m. when, it said, he ducked into a bathroom.

The paper published no photos or no eyewitness accounts beyond those of its reporters. A hotel spokeswoman declined to talk about the alleged incident Thursday, citing a “non-disclosure policy.”

Asked about the allegations in Houston Wednesday, Edwards said, “ “That's tabloid trash. They’re full of lies. I’m here to talk about helping people.”

But the political damage may have been done.

“Many a vice presidential candidate has been doomed by rumors, ones that have both been true and untrue,” Chuck Todd, NBC’s political director, told the Observer. “The Obama camp loves to call him ‘No Drama Obama.’ He’s not picking somebody that provides drama, no matter how true or untrue the allegations.”

Or, as an Opinion blog on the L.A. Times web site said Wednesday, “Barack Obama's VP shortlist might have gotten shorter.”

Don Fowler of Columbia, a former Democratic National Chairman, agreed.

"Any kind of report like this, unless there is some absolute proof that it is not true, will be believed by some people," he said, "and the degree to which it seems to have credibility will be believed by more people. And when you select somebody to be vice presidential candidate the number one rule of everything is, you sure as hell don't want somebody who will hurt you."

The Enquirer story was mentioned Wednesday night on CNN’s Glenn Beck show. But for the most part, the mainstream media has ignored it. Bloggers have taken note.

Slate’s Jack Shafer called it a double standard, and contrasted it with press coverage of Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who was arrested arrested at an airport last year “for playing footsies in a toilet stall.”

To Enquirer editor David Perel, the blogosphere is closer to the mainstream than traditional media.

“‘Mainstream’ media is a misnomer, the amount of attention the story is getting online is huge,” he told me Thursday. “Basically, new media is leading the way on this, and that’s going to continue to happen.”

I asked Perel about photos or eyewitness accounts. He wouldn’t talk about that.

“Well, stay tuned, that’s all I can say,” he said. “Everything’s done incrementally. So I’m not going to tell you exactly what our process is. Perhaps my time frame is different than your time frame. I’m not worried about the rest of the media. I’m worried about us.”

Perel called it “an extremely difficult story to work.
“We wanted to continue with it until we found a smoking gun. I basically wanted to catch him in the act and that’s what we did. Got day and date, time and place.”

Fowler suggested the story could hurt Edwards more than other politicians.

"If you had this rumor about Bill Clinton it probably wouldn't cause a ripple," he said. "But given John Edwards and his public relationship with his wife, something close to a model of the perfect family and their perfect relationship, it would hurt that much more."

Hagan, Dole and the war for vets

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kay Hagan spent nearly an hour today listening to Charlotte-area veterans talk about their problems getting health care and other benefits.

One told her about having to get up at 3 a.m. to catch a Greyhound bus to the V.A. hospital in Salisbury. Another talked about the 14,000 pending claims by N.C. veterans backlogged at a V.A. office in Winston-Salem.

"People are frustrated because Washington is broken," Hagan said after meeting the 30 or so vets at American Legion Post 380. It was her third town hall meeting with vets.

Her appearance came a day after her opponent, Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole, announced her own “Veterans for Dole" steering committee. A statement that accompanied the announcement touted veterans' legislation she has supported, including a military and veteran health care bill.

Asked to describe Dole's record, Hagan said, "I don't think she's hearing the same complaints I'm hearing.

"Let me put it this way, my record will be a lot better."

Said Dole spokesman Hogan Gidley: “When it comes to providing for and supporting the military, Elizabeth Dole is second to no one. . .except perhaps her own husband. Frankly, I’m embarrassed for Kay Hagan that she suggested otherwise.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

DNC, RNC drives coming to NC

Democratic national chairman Howard Dean brings his voter registration drive to North Carolina Friday, with stops in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte.

It's part of a "Register for Change" bus tour that started in Crawford, Texas, and is traveling the country leading up to next month's Democratic convention in Denver.

Dean will rill into Charlotte for a 3:30 p.m. event at the Margery Thompson Professional Development Center, 428 West Boulevard.

Meanwhile, Republican national chairman Mike Duncan today has begun his own “Victory 2008 Tour.” He'll meet with state GOP leaders and talk about John McCain's campaign. That tour also is scheduled to stop in North Carolina, though no schedule has been released.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

McCain and the press

I went by a Veterans for McCain rally today at Freedom Park, where about 50 vets listened to remarks from one of John McCain's fellow POWs and watched a video about the Arizona senator's war-time experiences.

Lee Teague, the chairman of the Mecklenburg County GOP, noted the handful of reporters in the room. He was surprised, he said, because he thought they were all traipsing around the world with Barack Obama.

Obama's trip to Iraq and Afghanistan has drawn more attention than similar trips by McCain. News anchors and big-name reporters are all aboard. It all lends itself to the kind of caricature of a media love fest that Saturday Night Live lampooned during the primary.

Now the McCain campaign is laughing back.

The campaign is staging a contest to see which of the two "The media loves Obama" videos people prefer.

"The media is in love with Barack Obama," a campaign statement said. "If it wasn't so serious, it would be funny."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Perdue doubles McCrory in fundraising

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bev Perdue has twice as much money in her campaign account as Republican Pat McCrory, after doubling his take in second quarter fundraising.

New reports show Perdue raised $2.3 million during the quarter to McCrory's $1 million. Perdue had $1.4 million on hand compared to McCrory's $700,000.

Perdue, the lieutenant governor, raised twice as much as Democrat Mike Easley had in 2000, when he also ran for governor the first time.

But McCrory's fundraising compares favorably to that of the last two GOP nominees, Patrick Ballantine in 2004 and Richard Vinroot in 2000. Both Republicans lost to Easley.

“We are very pleased with the strong support our campaign has received from across the state," said Richard Hudson, campaign manager for the Charlotte mayor. "He will have the financial resources necessary to win in November."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Easley sends plane for funeral guest

Former Republican Gov. Jim Martin got a free ride to Jesse Helms' funeral Tuesday -- courtesy of Democratic Gov. Mike Easley.

Easley's office offered Martin a ride aboard the jet the governor often uses on state business. Flight records show the Cessna Citation picked Martin up in Concord in the morning and flew him back after the funeral.

"I was happy to accept that, it saved a couple hours each way," Martin said. "I thought it was a nice gesture."

The two round-trips took less than two hours, according to flight records. The 8-passenger plane costs $770 per hour to operate, according to a spokeswoman for the state Department of Commerce, which owns it. Martin appeared to be the lone passenger.

Easley spokesman Seth Effron said the Democratic governor offered the plane "as a matter of protocol and professional courtesy to the former governor because this was a matter of state.”

Former Gov. Jim Holshouser also attended the funeral, as did other mourners from Charlotte.

Asked how taxpayers might view the trip, Martin said, "If taxpayers would object to that, it probably won't happen again. But I thought it was very thoughtful of (Easley)."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Obama, Helms and symbols

The crowd that came to hear Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Monday filed into a Charlotte middle school past an American flag flying at half-mast.

The flag was lowered to commemorate Friday's death of North Carolina's longtime U.S. senator, Jesse Helms.

Though plane trouble force Obama to cancel, the irony of the first black presidential nominee scheduling a visit to Helms' home state on the eve of his funeral wasn't lost.

"Sen. Helms represented ... views and perspectives that were wrong-minded, that represented the last century," Jennifer Roberts, chair of the Mecklenburg County commissioners, told the crowd. "We are moving from a politics of division to a politics of unity and the future."

After days of retrospectives about Helms, the Washington Post today re-ran a column that political columnist David Broder wrote about the senator on the occasion of his 2001 retirement announcement.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

ISO convention bloggers

Are you a Carolina blogger planning to attend either the Democratic convention in Denver or the Republican convention in Minneapolis?

If so, let me know. Both parties plan to accommodate bloggers. For possible stories, we'd like to get in touch.

Let me know by posting here or emailing

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New NC polls: Good news for both parties

The good news for Republicans in two new polls: Their candidates are ahead.

The good news for Democrats: But not by that much.

A new poll by the conservative Civitas Institute shows Republican presidential candidate John McCain and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole leading opponents Barack Obama and Kay Hagan. Republican Pat McCrory is virtually tied with Democrat Beverly Perdue in the governor's race.

But in a state George W. Bush twice won with 56 percent, Obama trailed McCain by only four points in the poll. Hagan trailed Dole by 10.

A poll of voters in the 10th Congressional District by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling shows GOP Rep. Patrick McHenry leading Democrat Daniel Johnson 49 percent to 38 percent.

But McHenry won the heavily Republican district in 2006 with 62 percent of the vote to 38 percent for his Democratic challenger.

PPP also found McCrory with a 25-point lead over Perdue in the district.

Turnout was so low that ....

Of the 2,200 people eligible to vote in Mecklenburg County's Precinct 141, only one showed up for Tuesday's Democratic runoff for labor commissioner.

Turnout was a dismal .84 percent throughout the county. Statewide it was under 2 percent.

At least the lone voter in Precinct 141, at the University City library, didn't have to stand in line. Neither did the single voter in Precinct 28 or, for that matter, in any of the county's other 193 precincts.

In the commissioner's race, Mary Fant Donnan walloped John Brooks 86 percent to 14 percent in Mecklenburg. Statewide she won with 68 percent.

Donnan faces Republican incumbent Cherie Berry in November.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Burr blasts Obama on energy

Speaking for Sen. John McCain's campaign, Sen. Richard Burr today called Democrat Barack Obama's energy proposals "ludicrous."

"I'm not sure he’s done anything but mirror the inaction of the Democratic leadership in Congress," said Burr, an N.C. Republican.

Burr joined McCain's energy adviser in an afternoon conference call with reporters. They spoke as McCain, campaigning in California, called for greater energy efficiency. The candidate appeared with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who opposes offshore oil drilling, which McCain supports.

Burr said he supports McCain's call to end a federal moratorium on such drilling and let states decide whether to allow it off their coasts.

"I leave it up to the people of North Carolina, to the leadership of North Carolina," Burr said. "I hope they feel a responsibility to do what I think technologically can be done with very little risk."

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cheney: Not aiming at 'shotgun social'

Gaston County Republicans may be breathing a little easier. Vice President Dick Cheney won't be attending tomorrow's Shotgun Social near Gastonia.

The Gaston County GOP invited Cheney to what party officials call the first shotgun fundraiser in North Carolina.

For $80, participants can shoot at clay targets. Non-shooters pay $30.

In 2006, Cheney accidentally shot a friend in the face while hunting in Texas.

Neil Moore, the Gaston GOP chairman, said he's not surprised that the vice president won't be attending an event where, after all, everybody is armed.

"It would take a small army of Secret Service to block off the area," Moore said.

The shotgun social will take place from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kings Pinnacle Development on Unity Church Road. For tickets, call 704-868-3330.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Belk story: An 'obvious hack piece?'

After my story on Bill Belk's campaign for district court judge ran Sunday, a friend forwarded this thread from a reader who obviously didn't like it.

The person -- identified only as "frumious bandersnatch" -- is looking for help in writing a letter to the editor. She calls herself a friend of Belk (after meeting him "a handful of times") and wants to correct what she sees a hack job.

So if you want to see how sausage (or a letter to the editor) is made, or if you have some advice for her, check out the link. To help her, leave any advice right here.

Hayes' jobless vote: Good politics?

Most House Republicans voted Wednesday against a bill to extend unemployment benefits by three m0nths. The bill fell three votes short of the two-thirds required for passage.

Voting with every Democrat -- and just 48 other Republicans -- for the measure was Republican Rep. Robin Hayes, who represents North Carolina's 8th District.

Voting to extend unemployment benefits is good politics, particularly in a district hit hard by the economic downturn and a vanishing textile industry. It's probably no coincidence that of the 10 Republicans in races rated as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report, seven -- including Hayes --- joined Democrats in supporting the bill.

The vote also gives Hayes ammunition in his latest attack on Democratic opponent Larry Kissell. In a new ad, he's criticized Kissell for not paying payroll taxes for his campaign workers.

“Extending unemployment benefits is the right thing to do, but we have to realize that these benefits are primarily funded by employers who pay taxes into the trust fund,” Hayes said in a news release today. “Larry Kissell wants to be in congress so he can vote on issues like unemployment benefits. But his campaign has manipulated the system to avoid paying the taxes that fund these unemployment benefits. The irony here is so thick you could cut it with a knife.”

Kissell's campaign says all of its employees have been treated as independent contractors who pay their own taxes, although field workers hired this month will be full-time employees whose taxes will be paid by the campaign.


Another Republican who voted to extend jobless benefits was Rep. Patrick McHenry of Cherryville. Unemployment rates in 9 of his ten 10th District counties exceed the state average.

McHenry also faces what could be a tough fight against Democrat Daniel Johnson.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gov candidates debate debates

Democrat Bev Perdue agreed today to five debates with Republican Pat McCrory. For McCrory, that's not enough.

Perdue's campaign said she'll debate five times starting June 21 in Atlantic Beach before the N.C. Bar Association. The other debates are spread out, ending with an Oct. 15 face-off in Charlotte.

"We've agreed to five debates, it's more than any recent gubernatorial campaign in North Carolina," says Perdue spokesman David Kochman. "It provides a very aggressive schedule and good opportunity for voters to hear about the candidates."

McCrory has agreed to seven debates, says his manager, Richard Hudson.

“Pat has agreed to debate anywhere and everywhere,” he says. “Let’s get on with the discussion of the issues so the voters of North Carolina can make an educated choice for the person to lead this state.”

McCrory questioned why Perdue didn't list events sponsored by the N.C. Press Association and the N.C. Association of Broadcasters. Kochman said she'll be at the press association event, though it's not a debate.

As for the broadcasters' gathering, he said, "We've accepted five debates. Unfortunately we can't accept every invitation that comes our way."

The debates both sides have agreed to:
-- 6/21: North Carolina Bar Association, Atlantic Beach.
-- 8/19: WTVD, Durham.
-- 9/9: Capital Broadcasting/WRAL, Raleigh.
-- 9/19: Public School Forum/Education: Everybody's Business Coalition,
-- 10/15: Charlotte-Mecklenburg League of Women Voters/WSOC/WTVI,

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Heimlich heard round the world

It's hard for a candidate for lieutenant governor to get much attention in his own state, let alone anywhere else. But N.C. Republican Robert Pittenger has found himself on national TV and newspapers around the world.

And all he did was choke.

Pittenger was eating lunch at Saturday's GOP convention in Greensboro, sitting next to U.S. Rep. Howard Coble across a dais from former presidential candidate Mick Huckabee, the luncheon speaker. Coble said something funny, Pittenger started laughing and choked. As others sat around, Huckabee rushed over and gave him the Heimlich, saving the day if not more.

The account brought a brief mention in Sunday's Observer. But it brought Pittenger and Huckabee on "Fox & Friends" Monday morning and mentions on other network newscasts, including MSNBC's "Hardball."

The story was carried by The Australian ("Huckabee saves fellow Republican from choking"), The New Zealand Herald ("Huckabee is Heimlich hero"), and was picked up by Agence France-Presse, among others.

Huckabee, who had trained as an emergency medical technician, told ABC News it was the third time he'd saved someone from choking by using the Heimlich.

Said Pittenger: "I am not coordinated enough to laugh and swallow at the same time."

Friday, June 06, 2008

Who do you like for veep?

John Edwards, if he was ever in the running as Barack Obama's running mate, probably isn't now. There's some good reasons in this NYT blog.

But who is? Or should be? Not just for Obama, but Republican John McCain.

On the Republican side, two Carolinians -- Sen. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem and S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford -- have been mentioned. So have Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Democrats mentioned include a pair of women governors: Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Janet Napolitano of Arizona. And there's always senators like Evan Bayh of Indiana or Joe Biden of Delaware.

Who do you think the candidates should choose?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Rucho-Dulin: 'The gentlemanly thing'

There was no love lost this spring between Republicans Andy Dulin and Bob Rucho. Their N.C. Senate contest was one of the nastiest -- and definitely most expensive -- primary races around.

But both Republicans tried to put that behind them Wednesday night when Mecklenburg GOP officials met to recommend Rucho's appointment to the Senate seat of the newly retired Robert Pittenger.

"Our contest was heated and it still hurts that I lost," says Dulin, a member of the Charlotte City Council. "But it's time to move on. And for the good of this community as a whole, we to have cohesion between Raleigh and the city council. That, plus from the Republican side, we've got a lot of important work to do (for the fall)."

Dulin calls his nomination "the gentlemanly thing to do." Rucho calls Dulin "very gracious."

But the Matthews dentist still has a complaint against Dulin at the state board of elections over Dulin's campaign finances.

Rucho still has to be formally appointed to the Senate seat by Gov. Mike Easley. He faces no Democratic opposition this fall.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

McCain calls for a series of town halls

Presidential debates are usually carefully orchestrated, with high-profile surrogates negotiating everything from the location and audience to the color of the backdrop. Republican John McCain wants to change that.

This morning, in a letter to Democrat Barack Obama, he proposed a series of town meetings starting next week in New York City.

"I propose that these town hall meetings be as free from the regimented trappings, rules and spectacle of formal debates as possible," he wrote. "And that we pledge to the American people we will not allow the idea to die on the negotiation table as our campaigns work out the details."

McCain said he envisions weekly meetings around the country until the Democratic convention starts in late August. He suggested he and Obama fly together to the first meeting "As a symbolically important act embracing the politics of civility."

He said he modeled the idea on an a 1963 agreement between President Kennedy and Republican Barry Goldwater. Kennedy's assassination, of course, ended the possibility.

McCain communications director Jill Hazelbaker says there's "an agreement, in spirit, between the McCain and Obama campaigns to participate in joint town hall appearances. Earlier this afternoon, the respective campaign managers spoke; they both expressed a commitment to raising the level of dialogue, and they will be in close contact as we work together to make this idea a reality."


Obama's campaign returns to Charlottte Thursday with its National Voter Registration Drive. Campaign workers and volunteers will meet at Obama's old headquarters at 7 p.m. at 1523 Elizabeth Ave.

Bob Johnson pushs Obama-Clinton ticket

Charlotte Bobcats owner Bob Johnson, an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton, is asking the Congressional Black Caucus to back Barack Obama-Clinton ticket.

Johnson wrote wrote U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking black official in Congress, urgong his support. He talked about it today with CNN's John Roberts, who asked him if Clinton was aware of his efforts.

JOHNSON: "Absolutely. I talked with the senator, told her what I was doing. She didn't direct me to do it, but she certainly knows that I am doing it. I have been in touch with her all the way in my thinking about how we can move this country in a unified way, and she's prepared to be a part of that unity."

ROBERTS: Let me ask you, Bob, about the timing of this. You're doing it at 7:00, the day after he went over the finish line. Some people might say that by getting out this publicly on it, by going to Congressman Clyburn on it, you are trying to limit his options for who he can pick as a running mate. Almost forcing him to take Hillary Clinton.

JOHNSON: Not at all, John. In fact, let me correct something you've been saying. My letter was not a pressure letter. My letter was an urge and an encouragement.

ROBERTS: So when you say she's prepared to be a part of that unity, is she prepared to accept a slot on the ticket as the vice presidential running mate should it be offered to her?

JOHNSON: Well, John, Senator Clinton has said often that her most important thing is to deal with the key issues that affect the Democratic Party and affect the American people. And she is prepared to do that any way the party asks her to do. If the party asks her to be a part of electing Obama, she is going to work just as hard to get Obama elected as president as she worked as hard to seek the nomination during the primaries.

ROBERTS: But, Bob, obviously, she didn't say -- obviously, she didn't say to you, no, don't do this. I mean, that would be an indication that she would entertain the idea and would probably like the idea.

JOHNSON: Well, there's no question that Senator Clinton will do whatever she's asked to do for the party. And she would certainly, as she said, to some of the New York delegation, entertain the idea if it's offered.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

N.C. Super: 'Not hard to figure out'

David Parker's gut is about to report.

Parker is the Statesville lawyer who long relished his status as an uncommitted Democratic superdelegate. Back in February, he told me, "Frankly, I'm torn both ways. My mind is with Hillary, my heart is with Obama, and I'm waiting for my gut to report."

Park says he's going to declare tonight after polls close in Montana at 10 p.m. EDT. That's the official end of the primary season. So who will he choose?

"You do have a brain, I don't think it's too hard to figure out what an announcement after the polls close would mean," he says.

More uncommitted superdelegates are expected to announce for Sen. Barack Obama after the primaries are over. Obama already has nine of North Carolina's superdelegates to Hillary Clinton's three. Parker is one of five uncommitted. When he talks about the fall campaign, it's not hard to figure out who he'll come out for tonight.

"The thing that moves me is electability," he says. "And I firmly believe that when Obama begins to talk about issues of the economy ... his issues and his statements will resonate with the public."

For an updated list of all superdelegates, check out this site on the New York Times.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Uh, Senator, you forgot to pay .....

It didn't take long for candidates to leave North Carolina after the May 6 presidential primary. All they left behind was a few bills.

Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton racked up nearly $61,000 in debts to N.C. vendors during April, according to a new report filed this week. That doesn't include earlier, unpaid debts such as the $800 owed Charlotte's Stonewall Jackson VFW Post for hosting Bill Clinton in March.

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama reported only one N.C. debt in April: $4,620 to AT&T in Charlotte. That was part of the $2 million in total debts he reported. Clinton has $19.5 million.

Republican Sen. John McCain, by contrast, reported no debts at all.

Clinton incurred five N.C. debts during April, including $1,383 to UNC Charlotte and $24,865 to Total Event Production, a Charlotte company that provided lighting, sound and staging equipment for 20 Clinton campaign events in the run-up to the primary.

Company president Mark Levi says he's confident he'll get paid.

"You're always worried about it until the money's in the bank," he says. "But I don't have any reason at this point in time to be overly concerned."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Meck Dems: Filling a vacancy and looking for a clarification

Six months after state Rep. Pete Cunningham resigned, Mecklenburg County Democrats are finally ready to nominate a successor to the longtime Charlotte lawmaker.

Democrats are scheduled to meet May 28 to nominate Kelly Alexander Jr. for the seat. Alexander won the May 6 primary over Mary Richardson. He faces Republican Gary Hardee in November, but the district is overwhelmingly Democratic.

Once recommended by his district's party executive committee, Alexander has to be appointed by Gov. Mike Easley. That's considered a formality.

Alexander would join a House already in progress. Its so-called short session started last week. But he isn't waiting. He'll meet with House Speaker Joe Hackney in Raleigh in Tuesday. He doesn't want to lose any more time.

"The train," he says, "has already pulled out of the station."


Party chairman Joel Ford says he expects Sen. Dan Clodfelter may also use the occasion of the May 28 meeting to clarify remarks he made in an email.

With a subject line that said "Disaffilate me," Clodfelter took issue with state party chairman Jerry Meek's endorsement of Barack Obama a day after Obama swept the N.C. primary.

"I do not wish to be associated with the party in consequence of this endorsement," Clodfelter wrote. He said later he was frustrated with email blasts from the party and piqued by Meek's endorsement. Clodfelter is a Hillary Clinton supporter.

Ford said he hopes Clodfelter clarifies his comments.

"People did take it as anti-Obama," he said.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Edwards to endorse Obama

A week after North Carolina's primary, Democrat John Edwards is about to endorse Barack Obama.

An Obama spokesman confirmed this afternoon that the former U.S. senator from North Carolina will endorse Obama within the hour in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Obama won Edwards' home state by 14 points. The N.C. victory, coupled with Hillary Clinton's narrow win in Indiana, has proved to be a tipping point in the campaign.

Shortly after Edwards dropped his own candidacy in January, Obama and Clinton both visited his home in Chapel Hill. But despite weeks of speculation, he declined to endorse either. Until now.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Democrat Clodfelter: 'Disafilliate me!'

State Sen. Dan Clodfelter, a Charlotte Democrat, wasn't in a particularly good mood Saturday when he sent this email to the state Party:

"Subject: Disaffiliation

"...please remove me from all membership rosters, e-mail lists, contribution solicitation lists, and any other associations with NCDP.

"My wife informs me that Jerry [Meek] has today publicly endorsed Obama for president. I do not wish to be associated with the party in consequence of this endorsement."

Clodfelter says his aim was to get his name off mass email lists, including those of the party. But he also had a moment of pique following Meek's endorsement of Barack Obama. Meek, a superdelegate, made the endorsement after Obama's 14-point victory in last week's N.C. primary.

"He should have stayed neutral until all the primaries are done," Clodfelter says. "He’s the state chairman."

Clodfelter supports Obama's rival, Hillary Clinton.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Edwards N.C. supporters back Obama

Sen. John Edwards' former national campaign chairman heads a list of Edwards' supporters endorsing Sen. Barack Obama.

Ed Turlington, a Raleigh attorney, joined reporters on a conference call this afternoon announcing their support of the Illinois senator two weeks ahead of the N.C. primary.

"I do hope what we're doing today is a symbol of what many people who supported Sen. Edwards will do," Turlington said.

He was joined by state Rep. Pricey Harrison of Greensboro and headlined a list that includes former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt, Charlotte City Council member Anthony Foxx, former Democratic chairman Wade Smith and cabinet secretary Libba Evans.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hillary coming to Charlotte

Democrat Hillary Clinton will campaign in Charlotte on April 28, eight days before North Carolina's presidential primary.

The New York senator is scheduled to attend a campaign event at The Square uptown and then a fundraiser at the home of businessman Cameron Harris. One co-sponsor of the fundraiser: Hugh McColl Jr., former chairman of the Bank of America.

It will be Clinton's first visit to Charlotte since a fundraiser last May.

Harris, a former chairman of the Mecklenburg County Democrats, is leasing office space to the Clinton campaign in Charlotte. He's not bothered by the continued sniping between Clinton and her last rival, Barack Obama.

"I'm probably one of the few people who believes this has been great for the Democratic Party," he says.

VIP seats for Clinton's Monday appearance cost $250. Other seats are available for $44 and $20. General admission is free. Gates to the event at The Square at Trade and Tryon Streets open at 4 p.m.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rankings, rasslin' and a survey

New effectiveness rankings for N.C. legislators are giving ammunition to at least one Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

Greg Dority says he'll use rival Robert Pittenger's ranking against him. Pittenger was ranked 49th in the 50-member Senate by the non-partisan N.C. Center for Public Policy Research, which bases its rankings on surveys of lawmakers, lobbyists and reporters.

"If a guy can't hack it in the state senate, what makes him think he is qualified to be Lieutenant Governor?," Dority said in a statement.

The rankings are skewed to Democrats, who control the General Assembly. Only four Republicans, for example, cracked the top 25 most effective senators.

"95 percent of all legislation passed is by democrats," Pittenger wrote in an email. "They don't allow republicans to passed their legislation. Condidering the (partisanship), I was very effective."

Here's how Charlotte-area lawmakers ranked:

SENATE (50 members)
3. David Hoyle, D-Gaston
4. Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg
6. Walter Dalton, D-Rutherford
9. Fletcher Hartsell, R-Cabarrus
18. Charlie Dannelly, D-Mecklenburg
37. Jim Forrester, R-Gaston
42. Eddie Goodall, R-Union
43. Malcolm Graham, D-Mecklenburg
45. Austin Allran, R-Catawba
49. Robet Pittenger, R-Mecklenburg

HOUSE (120 members)
17. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg
20. Drew Saunders, D-Mecklenburg
24. Martha Alexander, D-Mecklenburg
37. Joe Kiser, R-Lincoln
41. Jeff Barnhart, R-Cabarrus
48. Debbie Clary, R-Cleveland
53. Beverly Earle, D-Mecklenburg
56. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland
61. Karen Ray, R-Iredell
62. Linda Johnson, R-Cabarrus
75. Pete Cunningham, D-Mecklenburg
85. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg
89. Mitchell Setzer, R-Catawba
92. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg
95. Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg
101. Bill Current, R-Gaston
103. Mark Hilton, R-Catawba
107. Wil Neumann, R-Gaston
109. Ric Killian, R-Mecklenburg
115. Jacob Blackwood, R-Union
117. Jim Gulley, R-Mecklenburg

------ 'WOOOO!' Myrick

U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick got up in Congress recently and talked about wrestler Ric Flair and his "dreaded Figure Four Leglock." She also tried his trademark yell. Check it out.

----- NYU Survey

New York University student Matthew Schottland asked for help on a survey aimed at "understanding voting behavior from a psychological perspective." It's funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

To take the survey, click this link.