Friday, January 28, 2011

Watt: Dems could take back House

U.S. Rep. Mel Watt today defended his support for controversial tax cuts and said he "wouldn't be surprised" if Democrats regain the House in 2012.

"I'm not here to predict we will," the Charlotte Democrat told the Uptown Democratic Forum. "But I wouldn't be surprised."

Watt suggested numbers that might bode well for his party as it tries to regain the 25 seats it needs for control:

-- 54 Republicans won with less than 55 percent of the vote.
-- 61 won districts President Obama carried in 2008.
-- And 14 of them won districts carried by both Obama in 2008 and Democrat John Kerry in 2004.

He defended the 2010 health care law, which the new Republican-controlled House has voted to repeal. And he defended his vote in December for a bill that extended tax cuts for wealthy Americans. Many liberals opposed the bill.

Watt pointed to parts of the bill that extended unemployment benefits and cut the payroll tax for a year.

"It had a lot more in it for everyday, average working people than it did for rich people," he said.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Party candidate hosts fundraiser -- while he still can

State Rep. Bill Faison, who is running hard for the chairmanship of the N.C. Democratic Party, will host a party fundraiser tonight -- while he still can.

Faison, of Orange County, is organizing a fundraiser at state party headquarters tonight. Co-sponsors include 14 Democratic legislators. Invited guests include Gov. Bev Perdue, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and other state officials.

In the invitation, Faison said he was having the fundraiser to beat a ban on lawmakers raising money from lobbyists and political action committees. Legislators are barred from doing that once the session starts next week.

"I will be hosting a fundraiser aimed at PACs and Lobbyists to raise money for the North Carolina Democratic Party," Faison wrote. "As many of you know, ethics laws were passed a few years ago to significantly crack down on improper contributions to members of the General Assembly ... To make sure that this will not hurt my ability to serve you as the next Party Chair I decided to get their money in early."

Faison is running against Statesville lawyer David Parker and party activist Dannie Montgomery of Anson County. The election is Jan. 29.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rivals: Hayes 'establishment' candidate to lead GOP

Two rivals for chairman of the N.C. Republican Party are calling former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes the "establishment" candidate.

Tim Johnson, currently the party's vice-chair, said he expects to get tea party support in his bid for the top job. And Marcus Kindley, former Guilford County GOP chairman, said he's hoping to win grass-roots support.

The GOP state executive committee meets Saturday in Raleigh to name someone to fill the remaining six months of Tom Fetzer's term. Fetzer is resigning to start a consulting business.

"This is a classic case," Kindley said today. "We have the guys in Raleigh, they sat down and decided who they wanted to run.”

Johnson, meanwhile, said of his own support, "the vast amount is coming from Tea Party groups." He has spoken to Tea Party rallies in Charlotte and elsewhere.

"They truly were the ones that allowed Republicans to win and recapture the General Assembly the first time in 140 years," he said.

It's unclear how many Tea Partiers will be among Saturday's voters. The executive committee is made up of local and regional party leaders.

Hayes could not be reached. But his campaign manager, Jennifer Behr, said he expects to win.

"Robin’s got support from across the board," she said. "He's not in this because somebody handpicked him …. He realizes that this is just a job that he’s cut out for and now is his time and he’s seizing the opportunity.”

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

N.C. native in line for Gibb's White House job?

Raleigh native Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, is being mentioned as a possible replacement for White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Gibbs, a graduate of N.C. State, said today he'll step down as press secretary.
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza writes that Woodhouse, 43, could be on a shortlist of candidates for the job. "Southern, wry and politically minded, Woodhouse and Gibbs are personal friends," Cillizza writes. "Woodhouse is eminently quotable and has strong relations with the national press corps thanks to years of flacking for candidates and campaigns. The one knock on him? He might be too political for the official White House staff."

Woodhouse and Gibbs worked together in former Rep. Bob Etheridge's office. Woodhouse also was a spokesman for Erskine Bowles' 2002 U.S. Senate campaign.

Woodhouse isn't the only member of his family in the political spotlight. His brother Dallas is director of the N.C. chapter of the conservative Americans for Prosperity. They've sparred publicly over issues like President Obama's health care proposal, including during a joint appearance last year on CNN.

“You cannot have an honest debate with folks like my brother on this issue,” Brad told CNN host John Roberts.

“It’s simple that the president is losing this debate," Dallas responded. "You know he’s losing this debate when people like my brother and the White House start attacking hard-working, tax-paying citizens as mobsters.”