Monday, August 31, 2009

GOP health forum Tuesday is (almost) invitation only

Hospital staff and invited guests are expected to make up the crowd Tuesday morning when Republican Sens. Richard Burr, John McCain and Mitch McConnell host a health care forum in Charlotte.

The three GOP senators will tour the Levine Children's Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center at 8:30 a.m. and meet with employees, doctors and patients until 10. The event is nominally open but will take place in the hospital auditorium, which can seat only about 250 people.

"We have tremendous interest from our employees," said hospital spokeswoman Gail Rosenburg. "We are such dominant players in this whole issue of reform that we're pleased to be able to have this event for our employees."

McCain and McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, are doing a similar even in Kansas City today with Missouri Sen. Kit Bond. Bond, like Burr, is up for election next year.

Missouri Democrats criticized the invitation-only event in their state. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, who has held a series of town meetings on health care, took a dig at the Republicans on Twitter last week.

"More townhalls on Monday. West Plains and Springfield. Open to public. Sens Bond and McConnell having one in KC Mon but invitation only," she tweeted.

N.C. Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan has held no town halls this recess.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pat McCrory is eyeing a rematch in 2012

Days after denying interest in a congressional run, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory has opened the door to a rematch with Democratic Gov. Bev. Perdue.

In a Q&A with Raleigh's WRAL, McCrory, a Republican, was asked whether he would consider running for governor again or even the Senate.

"Yes," he replied. "Running a state-wide race was a great experience (except for election night!!!) and I am proud of the campaign we ran. We participated in (and most believe we won) every debate and proved that a candidate can run an effective, positive campaign. We lived within our fundraising means, didn’t take any loans, and ended the campaign without any debt, just in the same manner I promised I would govern."

McCrory never addressed a possible Senate run, presumably against Democrat Kay Hagan in 2014. But he was critical of Perdue who, he said, "has done an about face on about everything she promised during our campaign."

"I definitely haven't closed the door on any future political options up to and including governor," McCrory told me this morning. "I think I'd be foolish to close doors."

Last week, after opting not to run for Congress from the 8th District, McCrory didn't want to talk about his political future. "Right now my total focus is on completing my term," he said.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Reality TV comes to Charlotte city elections

In the Amazing Race for an at-large city council seat, Tariq Scott Bokhari hopes to be a Survivor, not the Biggest Loser, so he's doing something no other candidate has done in The Real World -- turn to reality TV.

Bohkari, a 29-year-old Republican, has launched the first episode of a three-part reality series called "Campaign, the road to city council." Friend and producer Brian Dickerson calls it "a real and raw look inside Tariq’s approach to our city needs."

Filmed in real time, the first episode lasts just over seven minutes. It's part biography, part documentary, part campaign platform. One scene shows apparently random people at The Square holding handmade signs with a word or two that taken together, spell out part of Bohkari's message.

Bokhari, who helped organize a health care forum this month that drew more than 100 people, says its hard to candidates to distinguish themselves at forums and in the media. So he's trying other ways. His released his first Webisode Friday through Facebook, Twitter and email.

"We're just trying to do anything we can to increase the visibility into our campaign and what we stand for and what we're doing," Bokhari said this morning. "We try to keep our thinking outside the box to use a little cliche."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

8th District update: Is Hayes running again?

Is Republican Robin Hayes planning a rematch with the guy who took his Congressional seat?

Depends who you ask.

U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican and top recruiter for the National Republican Congressional Committee, is in North Carolina this week checking out potential GOP candidates for several House seats held by Democrats. That includes the 8th District, which Democrat Larry Kissell won from Hayes last November.

"I don't believe Robin's going to run again," McCarthy told me this morning. "I would not rule that out (but) Robin's been very helpful in helping us find somebody."

Reached by email, Hayes sent back a quick response about his plans from his BlackBerry: "As yet, undetermined."

Hayes, who held the seat for five terms, could be Kissell's worst nightmare. In 2008 the wealthy textile heir spent $3.8 million on the race to Kissell's $1.5 million. And in an off-year, Kissell won't have a Barack Obama tailwind like he did last year.

"I believe the climate is going to be much different than the last two election cycles," McCarthy said. "You look at town hall meetings and others, there's a frustration out there. People are looking for new faces, fresh ideas."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Enquirer: DNA tests show Edwards is the daddy

The National Enquirer, which has been all over the John Edwards' story since breaking it over a year ago, today claims DNA tests have proven that the former Democratic presidential candidate is the father of his mistress's baby.

In what the tabloid calls a BOMBSHELL WORLD EXCLUSIVE!, it says Edwards has secretly undergone a paternity test, and that it proves he's the father of Frances Quinn Hunter, Rielle Hunter's daughter who was born in February 2008.

The paper says lawyers for Edwards are "privately hammering out" child support payments. It cites "multiple sources" that they don't name.

Rielle Hunter, with daughter in tow, appeared before a grand jury in Raleigh on Aug. 6. Prosecutors are looking at whether Edwards misused campaign funds in any payments that may have been used as hush money.

A lawyer for Edwards could not be reached this morning. [UPDATE: Raleigh attorney Wade Smith, among those representing Edwards, declined to comment.]

Edwards has denied he's the father. In a statement last year, he wrote he had "not been engaged in any activity of any description that requested, agreed to or supported payments of any kind to the woman or to the apparent father of the baby."

The Enquirer last year published photos it alleged showed Edwards holding the baby at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.