Sunday, March 31, 2013

Political family growing

Rep. Tricia Cotham will have a new agenda after the legislative session ends this summer.

Cotham is pregnant with her second child. The baby is due this fall.

It will be the second time the Matthews Democrat will have given birth since joining the legislature in 2007. Her son Elliot was born in 2010. Now, like then, she plans to continue her legislative career.

"I do think it's really important mothers and young women to have a voice in the General Assembly," she says. "I bring lots of different experiences to this body."

Cotham is marrited to Jerry Meek, a former chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party. Her mother Pat chairs the Mecklenburg County board of commissioners.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New GOP bills would curb early voting, public financing

Two new bills filed Thursday would change the way North Carolinians vote.

The state's early voting period would be shortened and Sunday voting eliminated under one bill. The bill from House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes of Caldwell County also would eliminate straight-ticket voting and same-day registration. And it would make non-partisan judicial elections partisan.

The bill could help Republicans.

It would lop a week off the early voting period, which Democrats have used more successfully than Republicans. It would also stop straight-ticket voting. Democrats cast 300,000 more straight tickets than Republicans in 2012. And by ending Sunday voting, it would stop the heavily Democratic "Souls to the Polls" efforts to get voters out after Sunday church services.

A bill introduced by Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville would eliminate public financing of judicial and other statewide races now eligible for it .

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

GOP chairman fight: Outsider v. outsider?

Jack Brosch, a Charlotte businessman who ran for Congress as a tea party candidate last year, calls himself a "New Republican" in the mold of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Now he wants to bring that outsider mentality to North Carolina's Republican Party.

Brosch hopes to get elected state chairman when the GOP meets for its state convention in Charlotte in June. He was prepared to challenge current Chairman Robin Hayes, before Hayes announced he wouldn't run.

Now he expects to face Claude Pope, a former chair of the Wake County GOP and cousin of conservative financier, and now state budget director, Art Pope. Claude Pope's campaign manager is a former executive director of the state party. His spokesman is Gov. Pat McCrory's nephew.

To Brosch, who lost to 12th District Democrat Mel Watt last fall, the choice is clear.

"These things add up to kind of an establishment candidate," he says.

Says Pope: "I see myself very much as an outsider." If elected, he says he would pull together tea party and other conservatives.

"We want to work with all of those organizations to put together the kind of ground work it takes to build a majority," he said.


North a tea

When North Carolina Republicans meet in Charlotte to pick a new state chairman in June, they'll have a choice of at least two men.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Rock Hill Republican co-chairs 'autopsy'

GOP national chairman Reince Priebus unveiled what he called a party  "autopsy" Monday, a report that presented a candid view of the party's problems and challenges.

Interviews and polls of more than 40,000 Americans provided some sobering feedback. "Asked to describe Republicans," the report said, "they said that the Party is 'scary,' 'narrow-minded,' and 'out of touch' and that we were a Party of 'stuffy old men.'"

The report was the result of the party's "Growth and Opportunity Project." Among the co-chairs: Rock Hill's Glenn McCall, the York County GOP chairman and a former Charlotte banker.

"Personally I did not understand how messaging and tone really mattered, especially to people in ethnic communities," he told me. One example: the issue of immigration, and Mitt Romney's call for "self-deportation" of undocumented immigrants.

"Even the Asian community said our tone and the way we addressed the issue really turned off a lot of their folks because we were not compassionate and caring," McCall said.

 McCall said he's doesn't think the report won't lay on a shelf like so many others. Priebus has already committed $10 million on staff who can help appeal to appeal to young and minority voters.

"I'm confident that this will be a long-term significant commitment on the RNC's part," he said. "We have no other choice. This election has changed the paradigm, with minorities by 2050 really becoming the majority in our country. We have to start somewhere.”

Friday, March 15, 2013

First shot of 2014? Tillis fundraiser features McCrory

Gov. Pat McCrory returned to Charlotte Friday to help House Speaker Thom Tillis raise campaign cash. For what campaign isn't clear.

McCrory was Tillis's guest at the Myers Park Country Club fundraiser that attracted some blue chip Charlotte hosts, including Tim Belk, Smokey Bissell, Tom Nelson, Allen Tate and Ed McMahan.

Tillis, holding himself to self-imposed term limits, has said he's in his last term in the House. But he's on the list of possible Republican candidates to challenger Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in 2014.

Though Tillis couldn't use the state campaign money on a federal campaign, he could use it to get his name out or help other candidates throughout the state, which could help him indirectly.

One sponsor of Friday's fundraiser was Ned Curran, president of Bissell Companies. He said he was supporting Tillis for whatever he needed.

Said Curran: "I think it's part of him having resources for himself or for others to be effective at what he does."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

If nominated, he will not run ....

A new poll on North Carolina's 2014 U.S. Senate race had a new name at the top.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest led the potential Republican field of candidates who may take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan next year, according to Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling. It was the first time Forest's name had been included in the survey.

The poll put him at 18 percent, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx at 13% percent, Labor commissioner Cherie Berry at 12 percent and U.S. Renee Ellmers at 10 percent. Senate President Phil Berger was at 8 percent and House Speaker Thom Tillis at 2 percent.

But don't expect Forest to run.   "Never contemplated it, never considered it," said the newly elected lieutenant governor. "I like being lieutenant governor That's not your typical political response is it?"   Forest, the son of former U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, said the poll reflects residual name recognition after last year's statewide campaign.   Along with Berry, he was one of only two of the potential GOP candidates with over 50 percent name recognition. .

Friday, March 08, 2013

Tangle or tango? Foxx and McCrory share a moment

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicGov. Pat McCrory, in Charlotte for the second time this week, called out the Observer for a picture it published after his first visit.

It showed a stern-looking McCrory talking to an equally stern-looking Mayor Anthony Foxx. The two are not best friends.

"Mr. Mayor, let's get a picture of us smiling at each other," the governor said.

Here's the result, as worked up by WCNC's Jeremy Markovich.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

A return to city council for Sen. Dan Clodfelter?

Veteran North Carolina Sen. Dan Clodfelter may return to where his political career began -- the Charlotte City Council.

"I've given some thought to it," he said in his legislative office Wednesday. "I think there are some important decisions facing the city and they're of interest and concern to me."

Clodfelter would run for one of four at-large seats, all now held by fellow Democrats. He's said he's been asked to run by "a fairly wide range of people," though he declined to say who.

Clodfelter, who served on council from 1987-1993, was once one of the most influential members of the Senate, even chairing the Finance Committee. Like other Democrats, he's seen that influence wane since Republicans took control after the 2010 elections.

He says that's not the reason he's considering a run for council.

"If I were to decide to (run), it would not be about that," he said.

Filing for the November council election opens in July.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

McCrory and the other airport controversy

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory appeared to feel right at home Tuesday, meeting with a dozen members of the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, a group he helped start when he was mayor of Charlotte.

At a news conference at the executive mansion, the mayors stood on a staircase behind him.  I asked the chairman of the group whether the city leaders had taken position on the effort to take control of Charlotte's airport from the city of Charlotte. No, said Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

Then McCrory offered, "I think this is an issue Charlotte needs to resolve among themselves .... I look forward to hearing the conclusion of the discussion."

One of the mayors standing behind the governor was Terry Bellamy, the mayor of Asheville. She felt blindsided last year by legislation transferring control of the airport there from the city to an authority. Before the news conference, she said, she talked to McCrory about it.

"I told him our business community was just as surprised as our council was," she said. "He was like, you all have to fix it at the local level. It's not a local issue. It's a state issue."

McCrory, Bellamy said, "understands the long-term impact" of the airport.

The governor has said the dispute in Charlotte is between "factions." He's urged lawmakers to slow down a bill that has until recently been on the fast track.