Monday, December 03, 2012

Protests, contest on tap for GOP meeting in CLT?

Next month's Republican winter meeting in Charlotte could get interesting.

Politico reports that former Congressman J.C. Watts of Oklahoma is considering a challenge to GOP Chairman Reince Priebus. Watt, who is African American, says the party should do more to reach out to minorities.

"(M)y concern is that as a Republican, every single Republican in America ought to be concerned about what has happened in 2008 and 2012,” Watts told Politico. “In this business, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

President Obama won 93 percent of black voters and 70 percent of Latino voters.

Meanwhile, a group posting on a blog called the Daily Paul says it's planning to protest Priebus at the Charlotte meeting. Organizers, who include at least two Charlotte supporters of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, are trying to raise money for a hospitality suite at the meeting. Their complaints appear to stem from the GOP convention in Tampa, where some conservatives felt shut out.

The GOP will hold its meeting at the Westin Hotel from Jan. 23-26.


Friday, November 02, 2012

Calling for a foul in final days

First the Walter Dalton campaign. Now the state Republican Party.

Both groups have filed complaints this week with the state elections board about rival campaigns.

First the Dalton campaign alleged that Republican Pat McCrory failed to properly report two campaign flights and illegally accepted a corporate contribution.

Now the state GOP has filed a complaint alleging that Gov. Bev Perdue illegally funneled $99,000 to the Dalton campaign. That's the amount of money that she refunded to donors this year that found its way into the Dalton campaign.

"Their donations should be treated by the SBOE as a contribution from the Perdue campaign to the Dalton campaign," state GOP executive director Scott Laster wrote in the complaint, "and treat it as a contribution that far exceeds the $4,000 limit.

McCrory had a 6-1 financial edge over Dalton according to new reports filed this week.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Myrick supporter's 'Super PAC' boosts her son's candidacy

In the lieutenant governor’s race, a super PAC funded by a supporter of U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick is sponsoring TV ads on behalf of her son, Republican Dan Forest.

Citizens for Accountability started just this month by Charlotte lawyer John Snyder. He funded it with $75,000 from Charlotte businessman David Longo.

This week the PAC spent $61,800 on cable TV ads across the state for Forest, who faces Democrat Linda Coleman.

Longo, president of Carolina Business Interiors, has given Myrick’s campaigns at least $10,800 since 2007. Longo could not be reached.

McCrory raises 3 times as much as Dalton

New reports in North Carolina's governor's race show Republican Pat McCrory has raised $11.6 million, nearly three times as much as Democrat Walter Dalton.

Dalton has raised $3.9 million.

McCrory was boosted by a strong 3rd Quarter, when he raised $5 million. He was boosted by high-profile fundraisers with the likes of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Dalton raised $1.4 million in the quarter.

Dalton had $268,000 on hand on Oct. 20. McCrory had $1.7 million.

Polls have shown McCrory with a double-digit lead in the race to succeed Democrat Bev Perdue.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Obama backer Rogers raising money for Tillis

As co-chair the Charlotte Host Committee, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers was in some ways a face of the Democratic National Convention. He also arranged Duke's $10 million line of credit and gave $10,000 to Barack Obama's campaign.

Now he's helping one of North Carolina's top Republicans.

Rogers is hosting a fundraiser at his Eastover home for House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius.

Tillis expects to use the money to help elect other Republicans to the state House, where he's trying to build a "super-majority."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

N.C. Republicans set to ride mcCrory's coattails

Two weeks before the election, Republicans are confident of Pat McCrory's chances to be elected North Carolina's governor. So confident they're already trying to ride his coattails.

McCrory has made robo-calls on behalf of Dan Forest, the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor. Forest is the son of one of McCrory's predecessors as Charlotte mayor, now-U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick.

The call, sponsored by the state Republican Party, has gone to voters across the state (and at least one from out of state whose name is still on the N.C. voting rolls.)

"Please give me the lieutenant governor I need to get the job done," McCrory says in the call. "Dan and I have a great working relationship and we share a similar vision for getting North Carolina back to work."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dan Forest brings undercard race to Charlotte

The race for lieutenant governor rarely gets much attention in North Carolina. In a year when the state that is a presidential battleground and has an open gubernatorial seat, this year is no exception.

But the low profile race would be interesting for a couple reasons.

Republican Dan Forest, 45, is the son of U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick of Charlotte. He spent part of his growing up years in Charlotte public schools.

After graduating from high school in Columbia and starting college at USC, he returned to Charlotte and graduated from UNCC. He's now a retired architect in Raleigh. If former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory wins the gubernatorial race, the state's two top jobs would be in the hands of Republicans with Charlotte ties.

Forest's opponent, Democrat Linda Coleman, 63, would be the first African American woman to hold statewide office in North Carolina.

On Monday Forest spoke to the N.C. League of Municipalities at the Charlotte Convention Center. Coleman, citing scheduling conflicts, did not attend. She'll return Thursday night for a fundraiser in Dilworth.

Forest told the municipal leaders he would focus on tax and regulatory reform as well as education.

But while the lieutenant governor presides over the N.C. Senate, he or she has little concrete power. Forest said he would be "a loud voice for education" and work with what he expects to be GOP majorities in the legislature and a Republican in the governor's office.

"Part of the lieutenant governor's role is to make the governor look good," he said.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Waiting for Obama? Don't count on it

When the threat of rain forced Democratic National Convention organizers to move President Obama's acceptance speech from Bank of America Stadium to Time Warner Cable Arena last month, 65,000 people lost a chance to see history.

Campaign officials promised to try to arrange an event at which the president would meet with the ticket holders before the election.

With less than four weeks left, time is running out. And Thursday, campaign officials wouldn't commit to a presidential visit.

"We don't have any announcements," Obama communications director Brent Colburn said in a conference call with N.C. reporters. "Especially with 26 days we’re fluid about scheduling. There will be more travel to the state, but no specific announcements to make at this time."

Obama national field director Jeremy Bird said the campaign has committed to "principal visits." That's generally understood to include the candidates or their wives.


Obama campaign touts N.C. registration numbers

In a memo this morning, President Barack Obama's re-election campaign is touting absentee voting and registration numbers in North Carolina and six other battlegrounds.

It says:

-- Republicans are leading in absentee ballot requests, but not by as much as in 2008. This year they lead by 34,000. Four years ago it was 39,000.

-- Democratic registrations have outpaced Republicans by more than 29,000 in the last three months.

-- Latino registration is up 55 percent in four years, to 106,000. Democratic registration among Latinos outnumbers Republicans by nearly 2-1.

The state board of elections could not immediately verify the numbers.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Black caucus backs Democrats -- except one

Charlotte-Mecklenburg's Black Political Caucus has endorsed a long list of Democratic candidates from president to county register of deeds. Every Democrat, that is, but one: U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell.

Kissell has angered some African Americans this year for several reasons. He not only voted against President Obama's health care law but voted to repeal it, voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt and said he wouldn't endorse Obama of attend his convention in nearby Charlotte.

Kissell's own 8th District Black Caucus withdrew its support and many of its members are supporting an African American write-in. The two Democrats face Republican Richard Hudson.

A spokeswoman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Caucus said Kissell just didn't get the votes required for an endorsement.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Poll: Obama ahead among N.C. registered voters

A new N.C. poll conducted by High Point University found that President Barack Obama has a slight lead among the state's registered voters.

The survey, released Thursday, found that 46 percent of N.C. registered voters said they would now vote for Democrat Obama. Those favoring Republican Mitt Romney: 43 percent.

That's a reversal of the previous High Point University Poll, in early September, which found Romney ahead of Obama, 46 percent to 43 percent.

In the new poll, participants were also asked whether they approved or disapproved of the way Obama is handling his job as president. Forty-nine percent said they approved; 47 said they disapproved.

The margin of error in the latest poll: 4.7 percent.

-- Tim Funk  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

McCrory 101: Chris Christie's homework

So what does a candidate give a Big Name surrogate who comes to town to campaign for him? How about a crash course on his campaign?

That's what Pat McCrory's campaign is doing for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Christie, fresh off his star turn as keynoter at the Republican convention, comes to the Charlotte area Thursday for a pair of events. He'll headline an afternoon rally in Salisbury and attend a Charlotte fundraiser for McCrory that night.

According to a draft "talking points" memo, the McCrory campaign wants to make sure Christie knows:

-- McCrory was Charlotte's longest-serving mayor "helped build the arena where the Democrats are holding.... their convention."

--The man who "worked with leaders of both parties to turn Charlotte into an economic powerhouse" wants to reform taxes and reduce regulations to bring jobs.

-- His opponent, Democrat Walter Dalton, "doesn't believe NC's government is broken.... how can he be part of the solution?" Dalton, it says, raised taxes as a state senator and would raise the sales tax. (Dalton has said he would not include a sales tax hike in his first budget, but didn't rule out an eventual hike.)

McCrory's campaign also would offer Christie advice on tax returns. Dalton has pushed for McCrory to release his.

"Pat McCrory's opponent is trying to distract from his record ... by demanding Pat release his personal income tax returns," the memo said. "The only taxes voters are concerned about are the ones Walter Dalton wants to increase on them if elected."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Obama strategist: 'Why pull out?'

A day after Mitt Romney's pollster suggested the Obama campaign is setting the stage for a pullout from North Carolina, an Obama campaign official shot down the idea.

"Put yourself in our shoes," said the official, who asked not to be identified. "Why would you ever pull out of a state where you're tied? A state that is an absolute must-win for Romney."

A poll this week by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm out of Raleigh, showed the race essentially tied in North Carolina. Other polls have given Romney a slight edge.

The Democratic convention helped the Obama campaign sign up thousands of volunteers who put in more than 50,000 hours of volunteer work, the official said. It has 50 field offices in the state. He expects those efforts to pay off.

"We know exactly what we need to do to be successful," he said. "And we have goals every single day to make sure we stay on that roadmap."

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gallup: DNC helped Obama more than RNC helped Romney

New Gallup numbers out today show that President Obama got more support out of last week's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte than Republican Mitt Romney did from his convention in Tampa.

According to Gallup, 43 percent of Americans said they were more likely to support Obama because of the convention. That compares to 40 percent who said they were more likely to vote for Romney after the GOP convention.

Thirty-eight percent said they were less likely to vote for each man after their respective conventions.

Democrats shouldn't be too smug.

In 1988, 56 percent of Americans said they were more likely to vote for Democrat Michael Dukakis after his convention. Only 43 percent said the GOP convention made them more likely to vote for Republican George H.W. Bush. Remember who won that race.

Speaking of numbers, Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm out of Raleigh, is out with a new poll that shows Obama leading Romney 49 percent to 48 percent in North Carolina. That's consistent with other PPP surveys, but contrary to polls by Elon University and others that show Romney with a slight edge in the state.

PPP did find that 57 percent of N.C. voters say the convention was a good thing for the state.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The lonely demonstrator

Outside the Charlotte Convention Center, on a street crowded with Democratic delegates, reporters and button vendors, Lew Powell is waging a quiet, one-man campaign.

In his floppy hat and sunglasses, he stands their holding a hand-stenciled sign that says, "Exonerate Edenton 7."


The Edenton 7 were North Carolinians associated with a day care center called Little Rascals in Edenton. They were prosecuted in the early 1990s over sexual abuse charges in a case that was highly publicized. Some charges were dropped, convictions were later overturned.

What concerns Powell, a former editorial page staffer at the Observer, is that the seven have never been pardoned or officially exonerated. He's taken on the cause virtually single-handedly, even starting a web site about the case.

"The in justice of it just got me," he said, holding his sign on the street. The way the system bullied people who were completely innocent... and no one will admit they were wrong."

So Powell will carry his sign during the convention, hoping to raise at least a little awareness of the case.

"I'm almost 68 years old," he says, "And this is the first time I've ever held a protest sign."

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Paul Ryan going to Greenville Monday

While Democrats continue gathering in Charlotte Monday, half of the Republican ticket will be on the other side of North Carolina.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP's vice presidential nominee, will visit East Carolina University in Greenville, 230 miles away. It will be his third trip to the state since Mitt Romney named him to the ticket last month.

"We're going to make sure the people of North Carolina and America have a response to the fantasyland world that the Democrats will try to portray in Charlotte," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told USA Today.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Spratt, Ryan: Mutual regard has limits

Toward the end of the last meeting of the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission in December 2010, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan asked for the floor.

"I think this is the last time I'll be sitting at a table with my friend, John Spratt," he announced. "And you're a great guy, John, and it's been a real privilege to serve in Congress with you. We haven't agreed on everything but you have my respect, and I just want to say thank you for what you've done for our country."

Spratt, a Democrat, represented South Carolina's 5th District for 28 years and chaired the House Budget Committee before losing re-election in 2010. He was replaced on the budget panel by Ryan, who had been ranking minority member.

Spratt calls the Wisconsin congressman "bright, energetic and affable."

"I would regard him as a friend (but) one I disagree with vigorusly," Spratt says. "I was surprised to see (Mitt) Romney pick him because he brings not just Paul Ryan, who is personally attractive, but all his ideology on board."

Spratt was a major player in the negotiations that led to the 1997 balanced budget amendment, the first in generations and still the last. He worked with then budget chairman John Kasich, an Ohio Republican. He says Kasich did something Ryan would not -- compromise.

"He wants to do it his way," Spratt said of Ryan. "He doesn't want anything that can be construed as additional taxes or revenues in the package."

But Spratt, who had a reputation as a moderate, says Ryan's selection means a debate over substance.

"That will be the thing you hear about for the next two months," he says. "They've certainly brought front and center the key fiscal issues of our time: What would you do with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid....

"In the final analysis, the biggest concern is whether Ryan can make the bipartisan moves necessary to put the budget on an even keel. In this respect his vote against Simpson-Bowles is not encouraging, it certainly does not cast him in the role of a bridge builder."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Paul Ryan surprises Sunday morning worshipers at St. Gabe's

Greeting early morning worshippers at St. Gabriel's Catholic Chuch Sunday, Rev. Andre Mangango noticed the strangers with dark glasses and ear phones.

Then he realized the reason they were there: A Secret Service contingent escorting Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's newly named running mate.

Ryan went to the south Charlotte church before he and Romney headed off by bus for rallies in Mooresville and High Point.

In a blog post this afternoon, diosesan spokesman David Hains quoted Mangango:

"He walked up to me and said, 'I am Representative Paul Ryan and this is my son.' I welcomed him to the church, congratulated him on being chosen and told him that we would be praying for him."

Ryan is the first Catholic on GOP ticket since William Miller in 1964. According to the National Journal, his selection also marks the first time that a presidential ticket will not include at least one Protestant. With Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, it also guarantees the first vice presidential debate between two Catholics.

St. Gabe's was still buzzing about the appearance at the 10:45 mass. Parishioner Simon Tsai was in the congregation when the priest anounced that the early service had a surprise visitor.

"The whole parish just applauded sponstaneously," Tsai recalled. "You can tell the enthusiasm.”

Tsai, a businessman, was impressed himself.

"It surprises me that he actually went to mass, especially when it's not a photo op," he said. "It's not just for show.”

Monday, August 06, 2012

Mitt Romney stopping in Mooresville Sunday

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will begin a day-long bus tour of North Carolina Sunday in Mooresville.

The candidate is expected to make other stops in the Piedmont Sunday though no details were available.

It will be the first of two Romney visits to the Charlotte area next week. He's scheduled to appear at a fundraiser Wednesday at Charlotte's Duke Mansion.

Friday, August 03, 2012

GOP chairman calls in cavalry for NC

Who says North Carolina isn't a battleground state?

Republican national Chairman Reince Priebus will appear at GOP headquarters in Cornelius Saturday to announce a coordinated effort in North Carolina with party officials from Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia.

The effort is "sure to go a long way toward turning the state red in November," Priebus said in a statement.

The occasion is part of what Republicans are calling their second "Super Saturday," a sort of dress-rehearsal for this fall's get-out-the-vote efforts.

RNC spokeswoman Rachel Adams said hundreds of volunteers across the state, operating from 20 GOP "Victory" offices, will reach thousands of voters through direct visits and phone calls.

The Obama campaign says it has more than 30 offices in North Carolina.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Man who seconded Barack Obama's 2008 nomination stumps in NC for Mitt Romney

When Artur Davis stumped for Democrat Larry Kissell in Charlotte in 2006, he was a rising Democratic star. The Alabama congressman was vice chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. An African American with a law degree from Harvard, he was an up-and-comer.

In 2008, he was the first congressman outside Illinois to publicly back then-Sen. Barack Obama, who would become a confidant. He went on to second the nomination of his fellow Harvard law graduate at the Democratic convention in Denver.

So how did the 44-year-old Davis come to campaign in North Carolina Thursday for Republican Mitt Romney?

After losing a 2010 bid for governor of Alabama, Davis moved to suburban Washington to practice law. Last May, he announced he was switching parties.

"I made a decision that on every single issue we’re debating in the country right now, what Republicans were saying made more sense to me than what Democrats were saying," he said by phone during a swing through eastern North Carolina.

"I saw a Democratic solution that always amounted to 'Let's take more money from people that are successful and grow the footprint of government... That became the two-pronged, all-purpose solution to every economic problem."

When running for governor in 2010, Davis was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against President Obama's health care bill. He joined 33 other Democrats, including Kissell.

Coincidently Thursday, the N.C. Democratic Party launched a new anti-Romney web site:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The flip side for Larry Kissell?

Democratic U.S. Rep Larry Kissell has been getting hammered from both sides lately.

On the one hand, Republicans running for his seat have bashed him. So have African American activists in his 8th District, who went so far last week as to announce a write-in candidate to replace him.

But Kissell also claims the support of a group unlikely to support many Democratic candidates. The campaign features them on a web site called

It includes testimonials from registered Republicans like Roddey Dowd Jr., the Charlotte industrialist who recently hosted Mitt Romney at his Charlotte Pipe and Foundry plant. "Principle always trumps convenience," Down says in a blurb on the site.

The list includes CEOs and business owners. And people like Timothy Rowe, a tax accountant from Wingate.

“I am 70 years old and have been a registered Republican my entire life and voted in every election," he says on the site. "Congressman Kissell is the first Democrat I would vote for and support financially.... I appreciate his commitment to our armed services families."

With a lot of Republicans gunning for him, and many Democrats opposing him, Kissell needs all the help he can get.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Huckabee endorses Pittenger (after saving his life)

Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has endorsed 9th District congressional candidate Robert Pittenger. It's not the first favor the former Arkansas governor has done for him.

In 2008 Pittenger, then a candidate for lieutenant governor, was on the dais eating lunch at the state GOP convention in Greensboro. Rep. Howard Coble, who was sitting next to him, cracked a joke. When Pittenger started laughing, part of his lunch lodged in his throat.

Huckabee, on other end, heard the commotion and rushed over, performing a Heimlich maneuver that cleared Pittenger's throat.

"To me this is just typical Mike Huckabee," Pittenger said at the time. "He's just a decent fun guy who cares about people."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pittenger critics question 2003 vote, and promise

Republican Jim Pendergraph is calling for a federal investigation over 9th District opponent Robert Pittenger's 2003 Senate vote that involved property he owned at the time.

And the Waxhaw town commission is asking Pittenger to donate land he promised to that same year.

Pendergraph called for a federal probe into what he called "the apparent case of public corruption" involving Pittenger's 2003 vote. Pittenger, then in the Senate, voted on a bill that annexed property owned by a partnership he led into the town of Waxhaw. The property's value increased as a result.

"We are confident that fair mined people will reject his last minute slanders and smears," said Pittenger spokesman Brian Mullis. "The simple truth is that this issue was reviewed by a Democrat-controlled independent legislative ethics committee five years ago, and nothing came of it."

Meanwhile the town manager of Waxhaw sent Pittenger a letter asking, in effect: Where's our land?

In 2003 Pittenger told town officials he was giving them 30 acres of land for a park or possible school site. According to the town, and deeds, the tract was never transferred.

"The council felt where is this land that belongs to the town of Waxhaw, to the people, and lo and behold it has not been transferred," said Mayor Pro Tem Erin Kirkpatrick.

Pittenger's campaign had no immediate response. It released a 2003 letter from the then-mayor thanking him for the land donation.

UPDATE: From Pittenger campaign spokesman Brian Mullis: "We have given public notice of a gift. (Former Mayor Jack) Hemby didn’t request a deed at the time because it was unknown of the future use or location of the property. We are happy to provide further assurance if needed to the Town and the County, agreed to by Mr. Hemby and Robert Pittenger."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Outside money pours into 8th District

The 8th Congressional District was already one of the biggest recipients of outside money in North Carolina. Now it's one of the biggest in the country.

Today a group called the American Action Network is dropping $300,000 into TV ads targeting Republican Scott Keadle. He faces Richard Hudson in Tuesday's GOP runoff. The Network is one of two party establishment groups helping Hudson, a former Capitol Hill staffer, in the runoff.

The YG Action Group, associated with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, has poured in more than $400,000 on Hudson's behalf this month alone.

But Keadle isn't defenseless.

The Club for Growth has spent around $700,000 on ads supporting him and opposing Hudson.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, only three districts in the country have seen more outside spending.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Obama slipping among black NC voters? (Maybe not)

President Obama's campaign team was quick to jump this week when a new poll showed he'd slipped behind Republican Gov. Mitt Romney among North Carolina voters. The poll couldn't be right, they said. Why?

Because it showed Obama under-performing among African Americans, traditionally his most loyal constituency. Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, acknowledged as much in the press release.

"One caveat with Romney's lead on this poll is that it finds Obama winning the black vote by only a 76/20 margin," he wrote. "That seems like an unrealistically low share of African American voters for Obama."

The discrepancy even drew the attention of the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, who addressed it in his blog, The Fix under the headline, "President Obama's Mythical Black Voter Problem." In a series of charts he showed that Obama remains popular with black voters, hovering around 90 percent approval.

Jensen said if his latest poll has a skewed result for black voters, it probably over-estimates Obama's support among white voters. It showed 37 percent of white voters approving the president's performance. Those results were in the poll's cross-tabs, where the margin of error is higher than the poll's overall 3.4 percentage points.

Jensen said the point is, the race is close. And has been over nearly two dozen polls.

"Nineteen of 20 times the race has been within three points one way or another," he said. "It all points to this being a toss-up state that could go either way."

Even though his firm leans to the left, he said it's not the first time Democrats have groused.
"Sometimes we are going to put out polls that dont make Democrats happy," he said. "Our job is not to make people feel good. It's to tell people what's going on.’

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pat McCrory applauds 'courageous' council vote

Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory today applauded what he called the city council's "courageous vote" to defeat a city budget that included an 8 percent property tax hike.

At a "Women's Luncheon" at the Westin Hotel, McCrory, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, was asked what he thought about Monday's vote. 

"I've always made a point of staying out of local politics," he said. "I figure 14 years is enough. I agree with the majority of city council who made what I think is a courageous vote."

In defeating the budget 6-5, the council turned back a measure that would have helped finance extension of a streetcar line. Four Democrats joined the council's two Republicans in voting no.

Since then some Democrats have suggested McCrory called council members to lobby against the budget. Not so, McCrory said.

"I think people are trying to use me as a distraction," he said.

A new Public Policy Polling survey released today showed McCrory maintaining a lead over Democrat Walter Dalton. He led 47 percent to 40 percent, a margin virtually unchanged over the last month.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Look for Gabby Giffords at the DNC

It could be one of the emotional highlights of the 2012 Democratic National Convention: An appearance on stage at Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, still recovering from an assassination attempt.

It's a prospect Democratic national chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz signaled today when asked about the prospect of a Giffords appearance.

"I expect that she will," Wasserman Schultz told reporters at the arena. "In fact I'm going to see her in D.C. this afternoon. I'm sure we'll probably talk about it. We've already talked about that. I think she'd very much like to go."

Wasserman Schultz, a congresswoman from Florida, is close to Giffords, an Arizona Democrat who resigned in January to concentrate on her recovery.

She's scheduled to make a rare public appearance this weekend for for former aide Ron Barber, who's seeking to succeed her in Congress. Barber faces Republican Jesse Kelly in a June 12 special election for Giffords' seat.

According to a story in today's Politico, Barber, who was also wounded in the January 2011, has sought, in a newly drawn, GOP-leaning district, to distance himself from the man who will be re-nominated at the Charlotte convention.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Guilt by association at the Capital Grille?

For a time it was a symbol of one of the biggest corruption scandals in North Carolina history: the bathroom at Charlotte's Capital Grille restaurant. That was where prosecutors said then-Democratic House Speaker Jim Black accepted cash bribes from a group of chiropractors.

Monday Republicans invoked that rendezvous in attempt to link Lt. Gov. and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Walter Dalton to Democratic corruption.

State GOP Vice Chair Wayne King joined Mecklenburg County Republican chair Gideon Moore and a handful of supporters outside the Capital Grille, where Dalton had been scheduled to hold a campaign strategy meeting with Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and others. That meeting was canceled, but not before Republicans announced plans to demonstrate outside.

And demonstrate they did, holding signs with pictures of Dalton, disgraced former Sen. John Edwards and controversial state party Chairman David Parker. "NC Failure Team," one poster read.

"I was wondering if Mayor Foxx and Lt. Gov. Dalton were going to get a bathroom to have their meeting," King told the only reporter who showed up.

The Dalton meeting was to be invitation only. King called it a "secret meeting" that was "abruptly canceled.

Said Dalton spokesman Schorr Johnson: "despite their manic rantings to the contrary, the lieutenant governor's schedule is based on balancing a robust campaign with his official duties, especially during the legislative session."


Thursday, May 03, 2012

Marriage amendent becomes issue in Senate race

In a new campaign flyer, Republican John Aneralla hits his top opponent over the marriage amendment.

In the flyer, sent to District 41 Republicans, Aneralla says Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte opposes the constitutional amendment which would ban same-sex marriage.

Not true says Tarte.

He says he supports the constitutional ban. Aneralla says he based his statement on a questionnaire for the conservative Civitas Institute that Tarte completed a few weeks ago. In it, he wrote that he opposes same-sex marriage, "but not in the constitution."

"I hadn’t made up my mind," says Tarte, who admits to having struggled with the issue."Are we going to run into unintended consequences where we’ll deny benefits to people? How about heterosexual couples who aren't married? Will common law marriage go away? ...  I would prefer not to have it in the constitution if I had my druthers."

Tarte said he's come down for the amendment, however, and said so during a forum this week.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Pittenger gives his campaign $1.1 million

Republican Robert Pittenger has put at least $1.13 million into his 9th District congressional campaign, a new report shows. That makes the total he raised through mid-April $1.4 million. That's four times as much as his nearest GOP rival in the 10-man primary.

Pittenger, a real estate invester, put another $150,000 in his campaign in April. The money has allowed him to run an aggressive media campaign on TV and radio and put glossy mailers into the homes of many GOP voters.

He's not the only one giving or loaning himself money. State Rep. Ric Killian loaned his campaign $101,000. Financial consultant Edwin Peacock took out a $249,999 home equity loan. And insurance executive Dan Barry put in nearly $74,000.

Pittenger had more cash on hand -- $451,000 -- in mid-April than any other candidate had raised in the whole campaign.

And Monday the first Super Pac weighed in on the 9th District race. The Washington-based
Citizens for Conservative Leadership spent $6,600 on a mailer opposing former Sheriff Jim Pendergraph, a frequent target of Pittenger's ads.

That's still far short of the $371,000 independent groups have spent in the GOP primary in the neighboring 8th District. Most has come from the Club for Growth, which supports dentist Scott Keadle.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Daily Show: 'The Democrats' South Carolina'

The N.C. Democratic Party's recent scandal was too good for Jon Stewart to pass up on the Daily Show.

In a segment labeled 'Tarred Heels," the comic poked fun at the affair that prompted the resignation of executive director Jay Parmley and calls for the resignation of party chairman David Parker.

Stewart played a news report about accusations that Parmley sexually harassed a male employee.

"Look on the bright side -- no love child," Stewart said.

He then played a clip of Parker's convoluted news conference where he said Parmley liked to "close talk."

"Congratulations North Carolina," Stewart said. "You have become the Democrats' South Carolina. Before long your governor will be taking tango lessons on the Appalachian Trail and your residents will close-talking your horses."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Club for Growth becomes Club for Keadle

The conservative Club for Growth pumped another $209,000 into the congressional campaign of 8th District Republican scott Keadle this week, bring the total of its PAC and Super PAC to more than $384,000.

And the Club may not be finished.

"The Club for Growth PAC believes Scott Keadle is true fiscal conservative .... and he’s worth every penny," said Club spokesman Barney Keller. “In the past the Club for Growth PAC has done everything  its endorsed candidates need to be victorious.”

Keadle, who lives in Mooresville, is one of five Republicans running in the May 8 primary for the right to take on Democratic incumbent Rep. Larry Kissell.

To put the money in perspective, the Club contributions are more than two of the candidates -- Fred Steen and John Whitley -- had raised through the first quarter. Richard Hudson and Vernon Robinson are also running.

The Club money is paying for a new run of TV ads for Keadle.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Independent groups spend big for Keadle in 8th

Only three independent groups have been active in North Carolina congressional races this year. Two of them are involved in the 8th District Republican primary.

The two independent groups have spent more than $118,000 on behalf of Mooresville dentist Scott Keadle.

On Friday the American Dental Association reported spending $11,000 on a phone survey for Keadle.

The conservative Club for Growth has spent more than $107,000 on his behalf, much of it on TV buys and direct mail.

The independent spending is a boost to Keadle. A report filed this week showed he's loaned himself $250,000. He's among five Republicans running for the seat held by Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell.

The biggest independent group operating in North Carolina has been a super PAC called the American Foundations Committee. It's spent $366,715 on behalf of former U.S. Attorney George Holding in his 13th District race against Wake County Commissioner Paul Coble.

The News & Observer reports that the super PAC is funded mainly by members of the Holding family.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pittenger: Pendergraph 'living off the taxpayers'

Republican Robert Pittenger's latest mailer hit mailboxes Tuesday. One mailbox belonged to Jim Pendergraph.

The headline: "Jim Pendergraph's Guide, How to Get Rich in Politics."

The part that galled Pendergraph, who pulled a folded copy of his pocket at a forum Tuesday night, was on the inside.

"Jim Pendergraph has been living off the taxpayers for his entire adult life," it said.

Pendergraph, an Army veteran, was a police officer for the city and county before being elected Mecklenburg County sheriff in 1994. He retired from that job in 2007 and worked briefly for the Department of Homeland Security in Washington.

At the forum, he said he took the criticism "on behalf of" every person in military uniform, every cop on the street and every sheriff. The crowd of Iredell County Republicans applauded.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Republicans top legislative rankings

No surprise here: Republicans topped the latest legislative effectiveness ratings by the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.

GOP wins in 2010 turned legislative power upside down when Republicans captured the General Assembly for the first time in more than a century. Not surprisingly, their effectiveness -- as measured by surveys of lawmakers, lobbyists and some capital reporters -- rose as a result.

The Center also released legislative attendance records. Two Democratic senators from Charlotte were among those with the body's lowest rankings. Sen. Charlie Dannelly ranked 45th with 91.3 percent attendance. Sen. Malcolm Graham ranked 48th with 86.4 percent attendance.

In the House, GOP Rep. Ric Killian of Charlotte ranked last in attendance. He was hospitalized for hip replacement surgery at the beginning of the session and missed special sessions because as an Army Reserve colonel he was called to active duty in Afghanistan.

Here are the 2011 ratings for Mecklenburg County-area lawmakers (with 2009 rankings in parentheses). There are 50 members in the Senate, 120 in the House.

Bob Rucho, R: 5 (37)
Dan Clodfelter, D: 14 (5)
Tommy Tucker, R-Union: 23 (not in office)
Charlie Dannelly, D: 44 (18)

Thom Tillis, R: 1 (32)
Ruth Samuelson, R: 18 (70)
Ric Killian, R: 42 (75)
Becky Carney, D: 46 (19)
Bill Brawley, R: 47 (not in office)
Tricia Cotham, D: 88 (51)
Martha Alexander, D: 94 (30)
Rodney Moore, D: 104 (not in office)
Kelly Alexander, D: 105 (84)
Beverly Earle, D: 110 (49)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

John Hood on Amendment One: 'Unwise and unfair'

John Hood, president of the conservative John Locke Foundation, wrote a column this week that expanded on last week's departure of Tara Servatius, a freelancer who wrote the foundation's Meck Dec blog.

Servatius left after a firestorm erupted over a blog on the so-called marriage amendment in which she ran a photo-shopped picture of President Obama in bondage gear with a bucket of fried chicken in front of him. Hood wrote that "it would be difficult to imagine a more revolting depiction of the president of the United States."

He went on to explain his opposition to the amendment that would ban same sex marriage and civil unions in the state. He wrote:

"(T)he John Locke Foundation does not take positions on gay rights, abortion, or other social issues. Other organizations, Left and Right, exist to debate those issues. From our founding in 1989, JLF has focused on fiscal and economic matters.

"Since I began writing a column for the organization, I have followed the same editorial policy ... But in this case I'lll suspend the rule for the sake of illustration. ... As it happens, JLF staffers and contributors have a wide range of views on social issues, including the marriage amendment. Some support it, based on heartfelt moral or religious convictions. Others oppose it, including me.

"I think amending North Carolina's constitution to forbid gay and lesbian couples from receiving any future legal recognition, including civil unions, is unwise and unfair. In my opinion the real threat to marriage is not the prospect of gay people getting hitched. It is the reality of straight people too quickly resorting to divorce, or never getting hitched in the first place.

"Should I assume and say that anyone who supports the amendment, including friends and colleagues, must be a bigot? Should they assume and say that anyone who opposes the amendment must be faithless, or hostile to family values? Not if we want to live and work together in a civil society. And not if we actually want to persuade rather than to preen, persecute, or provoke. Most North Carolina voters, it seems, are likely to support the amendment. I disagree with them, but that doesn't mean I should say they all have small minds or evil intent. Once you start down that road, you end up ranting and raving to an ever-shrinking audience characterized by uniform views and smug self-satisfaction."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kissell, and opponent, bouyed by new 8th District poll

Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell and one of his Republican opponents are both touting a new poll for the Kissell campaign.

The poll shows Kissell leading each of three Republican candidates in the 8th District race. He led Richard Hudson, who pollsters Zac McCrary and John Anzalone called the "perceived Republican frontrunner," 46 percent to 36 percent.

The pollsters also tested Kissell against GOP candidates Fred Steen and John Whitley, though didn't release numbers in those matchups. They didn't test him against Republicans Vernon Robinson or Scott Keadle, or against Democratic rival Marcus Williams.

Hudson called Kissell's showing "weak."

"What this demonstrates is that I am the Republican the Democrats fear most and I am the one who can beat Larry Kissell," he said in a statement. "Kissell recognizes me as the Republican frontrunner and his own poll shows me holding him under 50 percent before we have even begun to hold him accountable for his liberal .... voting record."


Lauren Slepian, a spokeswoman for Keadle, chose to put her own spin on the results.

"What this demonstrates is that Scott Keadle and Vernon are kicking Kissell's backside," she said, "and Kissell is trying to show that he can beat the weak guys in the field."

Christopher Schuler said Hudson's "trying to do a good job spinning it his way but the numbers speak for themselves."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Road to Tampa starts Saturday for Mecklenburg GOP

For at least four Republicans, the road to the 2012 GOP national convention starts Saturday.

The convention kicks off Saturday morning at Hilton Charlotte University Place. More than 350 delegates are expected to recommend two delegates (and two alternates) from the 9th Congressional District to the GOP convention in Tampa.

Those recommendations will go to the district convention in Matthews on April 21. The state convention takes place in June in Greensboro.

North Carolina's 55 national convention delegates will be apportioned based on candidate performance in the May 8 primary.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Man bites dog? Peacock giving money back

At a time candidates are busy raising money, so is Edwin Peacock. But with a twist.

One of 11 Republicans running in the 9th Congressional District, he's giving money back. In a letter to 332 donors to his Charlotte City Council campaign, he announced that he was refunding them a pro-rated amount of the $19,330 left in his city campaign account.

But the refunds come with a caveat.

"I'd like to ask you kindly return at least (some) and if you feel comfortable, please consider giving more," he wrote. "...Please make checks payable to "Edwin Peacock for Congress. A postage paid return envelope is provided."

Because of different donation limits, federal candidates aren't allowed to transfer money from state or local accounts. They can give the money away or refund it. Peacock is betting that giving it back could bring him more.

"We just decided that this is a pretty good way to get this money back and maybe more," he said. "Obviously it's not our money."

He's not the only GOP candidate with money in another campaign account.

Andy Dulin had $10,490 in his city council account at the start of the year. Ric Killian had $33,602 in his legislative account. Jim Pendergraph had just $510 in his Mecklenburg commissioner account. And Dan Barry, Weddington's mayor pro tem, last reported $705 on hand.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Myrick, McHenry endorse in the 9th District

U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick has endorsed Republican Jim Pendergraph in the race for her 9th District seat.

"I know of his integrity and where he stands on the issues," Myrick said of Pendergraph. "He's an average guy - one of us. He's spent his entire life in service to people and defending the rule of law. If ever in history we needed people like that in Congress - it's now."

Meanwhile her colleague, Republican U.S. Rep Patrick McHenry of Cherryville, has endorsed former state Sen. Robert Pittenger. McHenry will headline a Friday fundraiser for Pittenger at Zebra restaurant.

"I served with Robert in the North Carolina Legislature," McHenry said in a statement. " No one gave stronger leadership and specific solutions to address our state's enormous fiscal mess than Robert."

There are nine other Republicans running for the seat.

Monday, February 27, 2012

GOPers at gay rights gala: 'Not in Kansas anymore'

What do you get when you hold a Republican banquet in the same building with a gay rights gala?

Some surprised Republicans.

That's what happened Saturday night when the Mecklenburg County GOP held their annual Lincoln-Reagan dinner in Charlotte's NASCAR Hall of Fame. Republicans who parked in the hall's parking deck found an elevator bank with two choices: "Hall of Fame" and "Ballroom." Some chose the Ballroom.

That's how people like Rep. Ruth Samuelson and other Republicans ended up at the fundraiser for the Human Rights Campaign, an event that attracted 1,400 people, including some in drag.

From GOP commissioner Bill James: "A couple of big wigs in the GOP got all the way into the gay gala. One stopped upon seeing Jennifer Roberts, others were in line for drinks and turned around to see drag queens behind them figuring that they weren’t in GOP ‘Kansas’ anymore – quickly leaving."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pssst... Cheap gas in Montgomery County

Want gas for $1.80-a-gallon? Then head to the Montgomery County town of Biscoe tomorrow.

Republican Vernon Robinson, running for Congress in the 8th District, will be pumping 1,000 gallons at that price beginning at 11 a.m. at the E-ZEE gas station at 306 N. Main St.

Biscoe is the home of Democratic U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell. Robinson is one of several Republicans trying to unseat him.

According to Robinson, $1.80 is "the same price gasoline sold for when Larry Kissell and Barack Obama assumed office in January 2009. " Not only is he using the gimmick to make a point, but he's taking a page out of Kissell's playbook.

When Kissell first race unsuccessfully in 2006, he sold gas for $1.22/gallon, the price it was when his GOP opponent, then-Rep. Robin Hayes, took office in 1999. Kissell even ran ads showing motorists lined up for the cheap gas. Today, Kissell welcomed Robinson to his home county.

"I welcome Mr. Robinson to Montgomery County and thank him for spending his campaign money trying to help the citizens of our district stretch their hard-earned dollars in this way," Kissell said in a statement. "I encourage all the other candidates to likewise follow my lead ...

"In a political season already stained by rancor, ill will and brutally negative ads, I congratulate Mr. Robinson for taking the high road and spending his money to help working folks out just a little bit."

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Newt and Gerry the Bear -- Write the caption

This 1995 photo was posted on "A View to Hugh," a blog dedicated to processing the photos of North Carolina's Hugh Morton, the conservationist who developed Grandfather Mountain.

It's from then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich's visit to Grandfather, where he met Gerry. Writes Stephen Fletcher:
"Like Newt, Gerry is still alive and kicking. According to the Grandfather Mountain website, 'Even at age 20, Gerry is still very spry and acts like a bear half her age. Even though she is very patient, she does not hesitate to let her keepers know when they aren’t moving fast enough with her very distinctive and adorable moaning.' Perhaps Newt and Gerry are kindred spirits?"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

NBC's Todd: Colbert 'making a mockery of the system'

NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd admires comedian Stephen Colbert's send-up of super-PACs. But he thinks Colbert, who has declared his candidacy for "President of the United States of South Carolina," is going too far in injecting real-life politics into his own version of reality TV.

Colbert, host of Comedy Central's "Colbert Report," could not get on Saturday's S.C. primary ballot. So he has urged his fans to vote for long-gone candidate Herman Cain in Saturday's S.C. primary as a sort of proxy.

On Friday, he's hosting "The Rock Me Like a Herman Cain: South Cain-olina Primary Rally."

"Look, he's got a shtick," Todd told a Winthrop University audience today. "I admire how he's educated his audience on super-PACs. (But) I think he's making a mockery of the system. Is it fair to the process?"

Todd also took a swipe at the media for playing along. Colbert was a guest on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos.

"He's trying to marginalize (Republican) candidates and we're helping him," Todd said. WHile he likes the comedy, he added, "I have to admit I'm uncomfortable when it's actually merging into the real world."

Todd was on a panel with CNN's Steve Brusk and Steve Brook of The (Columbia) State discussing media coverage of the 2012 campaign.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Friends rally to support Jerry Klein

For years Jerry Klein was a Charlotte institution. A columnist for Creative Loafing. A music aficionado and writer. A liberal radio host on conservative talk radio.

Last October, Klein, then at a radio station outside Washington, underwent surgery for esophageal cancer and was also diagnosed with liver disease. He thanked well-wishers on Facebook: "From the bottom of my heart - the one organ at the moment that I'm pretty sure is OK."

Now Klein's Charlotte friends are coming to his aid. They're hosting a benefit for him Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Great Aunt Stella Center.

More than a dozen musicians will perform. Among them: Beth Chorneau, The Cloers, Hope Nicholls and John Tosco.

"JERRY NEEDS US NOW as he is in the battle of his life," friend Becca Thompson wrote in an email. "To top off this ugly situation, Jerry lost the love of his life since high school, wife Lois, just weeks after these spirit-killing diagnoses were made. In spite of this overwhelming personal time for Jerry, he is getting very promising reports from doctors. Through his columns, radio shows and great programming, Jerry has always gotten to the heart of any issue that affected Charlotte by bringing folks together and finding common ground. He needs us now in a show of solidarity and support."

According to Becca, here's how to help:

Send any amount through PayPal to: and note THE JERRY KLEIN FUND.

Or send checks should be made payable to DRUMSTRONG, 725 Providence Road #210
Charlotte, NC 28207. Memo line on check should note "The Jerry Klein Fund."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Newt -- and aide -- glad to be back South

After the cold winds -- and colder results from Iowa and New Hampshire -- South Carolina was a welcome stop for Republican Newt Gingrich this morning.

It's good to be home in the South," the former Georgia congressman told an audience in Rock Hill, less than 14 hours after the last polls closed in new Hampshire.

And he wasn't the only one to enjoy being in the Palmetto State.

"I'm really happy to be in South Carolina," said R.C. Hammond, his national press secretary. "You know why? It's warm here. No one is ever mean to you. And the food gets better every place we go."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

McCrory to announce Jan. 31 -- but not in Charlotte

Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory finally plans to kick off his gubernatorial campaign Jan. 31 in Greensboro, according to a campaign aide.

The Republican has made no secret of his plans for a rematch against Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.

He already has nearly matched her in fundraising. Campaign aides have said he raised $2.5 million compared to her $2.6 million. Polls have shown him with a consistent lead.

The N.C. Democratic Party this month launched a new web site attacking McCrory, including videos from a campaign tracker.

According to the aide, McCrory is expected to hold a late afternoon kickoff at Greensboro's Oriental Shrine Club.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Ex-UNCC prof weighs in on GOP districting plan

From his days heading the political science department at UNC Charlotte, Ted Arrington has been an authoritative voice on redistricting. Not only has he helped draw the lines for local districts in Mecklenburg County, he served as an expert witness in redistricting cases across the country.

Now retired, he's weighing in on North Carolina's new plan.

Lawyers representing Democrats who are fighting the state's new Republican-drawn plan in court submitted an affidavit from Arrington in which he argues that the plan hurts minority voters.

"The extensive splitting of precincts, which is clearly not necessary to abide by the Constitutional standard of one-person, one-vote, will increase voter confusion and potentially harm voter turnout," he wrote. "Because the splits are concentrated in the Black community, this will be a special problem among Black voters."

Plaintiffs in the lawsuits are trying to overturn the new districts, which favor Republicans.

Arrington is a former Republican-turned-independent.