Weeks after Pat McCrory issued orders for the state’s departments to tighten their budgets, the Department of Transportation spent nearly $80,000 taxpayer dollars on new cubicles for the communications staff in order to create an atmosphere more similar to ‘newsroom.’ Even though the department said it worked with a company which helped it to reuse materials from existing cubicles, the renovations to the first floor of the DOT wound up costing taxpayers about $3,600 per cubicle.
More than 730,000 North Carolinians were left without representation in the U.S. House of Representatives when former Rep. Mel Watt left to become a big shot housing regulator. It’s likely to stay that way for most of the year since the state’s governor, Pat McCrory, decided that the special election will have to wait until the regularly scheduled election in November. Depending on who you ask, it’s either a big deal or doesn’t make much of a difference. But it does mean 12th District residents who want their voices heard on the major votes of the day, such as the budget, voting rights, and immigration, are out of luck.
U.S. Senator Kay Hagan helped pass the bipartisan 2014 Farm Bill today with key provisions for North Carolina’s farmers and rural communities. The legislation, which represents the most significant reform of agriculture programs in decades, sets farm policy for the next five years and reduces the deficit by $17 billion. It now goes to the President to be signed into law. “I am so pleased that today, farmers in North Carolina and across the country are finally receiving the certainty they need,” said Hagan. “This bill is a true win for our state, where agriculture sustains hundreds of thousands of jobs and serves as the lifeblood of many of our rural communities. I am proud that the legislation includes several provisions I worked on to help ensure North Carolina farmers can continue to expand and create jobs and access new safety net measures that will help them recover from events outside their control, and I will continue working to make sure that our state’s agriculture industry can continue to grow.”
Dome: Morning Memo: Where does Kay Hagan’s voting record rank?
Where U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan ranks among her peers based on her voting record is the topic de jour in North Carolina politics. As we noted on Dome Wednesday, the Democratic incumbent voted with President Barack Obama 96 percent of the time – but the number makes her one of the most likely to buck her party’s leader. It’s a juxtaposition that doesn’t fit a political sound bite. And Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis is focusing on the first number. It’s featured prominently in a new web ad released by his campaign Thursday. And one thing you won’t see in a Tillis ad – but may see in a Hagan spot – is National Journal’s 2013 ranking calling Hagan the “most moderate.”
U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre said he listened to the people back home when he decided how to vote, which often meant that the conservative North Carolina Democrat sided with Republicans instead of his own party. “Too often now legislation is identified as part of a partisan agenda rather than the people’s agenda,” he said. “That may sound philosophical, but it’s also true practically.” McIntyre announced last month that he will leave Congress at the end of this year after serving 18 years representing a part of southeastern North Carolina he knows well. He is a native of Lumberton in Robeson County, and his family has had roots in that area for 200 years.
Reuters: Boehner says no decisions on provisions of debt ceiling legislation
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday there was no decision yet among his fellow Republicans on whether to add any conditions to raising the U.S. debt ceiling but he repeated there would be no default. He added a debt limit hike bill had to be passed by late February.
House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday joined the Senate’s top Republican in suggesting an immigration overhaul this year is unlikely, citing a lack of trust among the GOP towards President Obama. "There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes," Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Thursday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., already threw cold water on immigration prospects Tuesday when he said there was an "irresolvable conflict" between the Senate’s comprehensive legislative approach and the piecemeal approach sought by House Republicans.
Conservative activists in North Carolina are angry that Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis has been absent from key campaign events, and say his apparent unwillingness to appear alongside his opponents could cost him support in the crowded primary field. According to The Hill, the North Carolina state House speaker has been avoiding the GOP base, having skipped four candidate forums and angering tea party supporters as well as establishment Republicans. "He has high negatives with the primary voters, and they get higher every time we see an empty chair at these forums. It shows he’s not willing to take the time to talk to us and explain his views," Sharon Hudson, co-founder of the Lake Norman Conservatives, told The Hill.
By all accounts the state Supreme Court election in 2012 proved to be one for the record books. More money than ever poured in to help re-elect one justice and secure a conservative majority on the court – with most of those dollars coming from groups far from the state’s borders. Records set then are likely to be shattered in 2014, though, as more candidates are running for more races and as more outside groups find the path to influencing the outcomes of those races eased by recent election law changes. For conservatives, the coming races will be about adding to the Republican presence on the court. But for progressives, who are challenging much of the legislation coming out of the conservative playbook in the courts, everything could be at stake.
Clay Aiken made a name for himself on the second season of American Idol and has since become a bestselling singer and songwriter. Now, Aiken is stepping onto a new stage — running as a Democratic candidate for a congressional seat in North Carolina. Aiken announced his challenge to Rep. Renee Elmers (R—N.C.) on Wednesday with a campaign video, where he explained his motivations for seeking office. Even though he is known to America as the Idol runner-up, Aiken presented his personal narrative, detailing how his mother fled his abusive father and he grew up largely on the charity of friends. The singer doesn’t mention American Idol by name in the video, but references his “golden ticket” that is, perhaps the most well-known part of his story. “For most Americans there are no golden tickets, at least not like the kind you see on T.V.,” he says.
Dome: Crisco: ‘I’m still in,’ but welcomes Aiken to the race
Clay Aiken’s entry into the Democratic primary for the seat held by U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, the Republican from Dunn, prompted one candidate to step aside and support Aiken. But not the other main contender. Keith Crisco said Wednesday he’s still in. “I welcome Mr. Aiken to the race for North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District,” Crisco said in a statement his campaign staff released. “I look forward to a vigorous discussion about who is the most qualified person to represent the people of the second district and win in November.”
“Renee Ellmers is trying to use code words to distract from her own out-of-touch record,” LGBT Democrats of North Carolina President Ralph Rodland said in a written statement. “At the height of the government shutdown, Ellmers demanded her paycheck even while over 7,000 workers were furloughed at Fort Bragg because of her votes. She might want this race to be about dog-whistle politics, but this election is going to be about Renee Ellmers’ record of hurting North Carolina.” Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina, a statewide LGBT advocacy and education group, said Ellmers’ spokesperson was “out of touch” with North Carolina.
In the 6th district race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Howard Coble, Democrat Laura Fjeld has collected $225,000, which is more than any of the other nine candidates combined. She has almost doubled the nearest Republican, Rev. Mark Walker. In District 12, state Rep. Marcus Brandon has collected approximately $214,000. He leads state Rep. Alma Adams by $12,000. Candidates cannot officially file for the ballot until Monday, but at least 19 people are expected to run in the two races.
Phil Berger has raked in more than $800,000 for his re-election campaign. While he doesn’t need this much money to run in his district, it is speculated that he will do what many others do and dole it out to other Senators to help them run and also secure their loyalty. Most of the money has come from individual donors, but PACs have also been active. One donation came from the American Kennel Club, which has been accused by the Humane Society as supporting puppy mills. The state House passed a bill against these mills last year, but the bill all but died in the Senate.
Wednesday was the third straight day this week that President Obama spent rallying Democratic colleagues ahead of 2014. Both President Obama and Bill Clinton were present at a meeting with Senate Democrats at Washington Nationals Stadium. "The president looks forward to continue working closely with Democrats in Congress to ensure that every American who works hard and plays by the rules has the opportunity to get ahead," the White House said. Democrats hope to make gains in the House of Representatives and hang control of the Senate.
Ken Spaulding, a former state legislator and Durham attorney, has already announced his intention to run for governor in 2016. The Democrat cited the new voter suppression law – which he calls a continued effort by Gov. Pat McCrory and the extremists of the Republican Party to turn the clock back – as a main motivation for his running. “I am willing to make this effort and sacrifice for the people of this state who are hurting and tired of the professional politicians making our lives harder and our children’s lives less secure,” he said.
CNN: John Kerry a ‘no’ for 2016
While his predecessor Hillary Clinton and his colleague Vice President Joe Biden may be contemplating another White House run, Secretary of State John Kerry says he is out for 2016. "I’m out of politics. I have no plans whatsoever. This is my last stop," Kerry said in an exclusive interview with CNN’s "The Lead with Jake Tapper."
Michelle Obama told a group of high school students and parents on Wednesday not to let financial concerns stand in the way of a college education as she urged them to apply for federal student aid. “Fill out those forms, fill them out!” Mrs. Obama exhorted. “Don’t leave money on the table.” Mrs. Obama spoke at T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., a few miles outside Washington, as deadlines approach for college-bound students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA. She made her remarks at a school workshop held to help students with the online forms. “For those of you who might be wondering why the first lady is here just to watch you fill out a computer form, it’s because completing this form is a critical start to completing your education,” Mrs. Obama said to a few dozen high school seniors and parents.
Daily Tar Heel: North Carolina Teachers Encouraged to Protest New Teacher Contracts
The N.C. Association of Educators urged states teachers to protest a new law, passed by the General Assembly in 2013, which essentially trades tenure for a pay raise. The law requires N.C. school districts to offer the top 25 percent of teachers a contract that would exchange protection from demotion or dismissal for a $500 salary increase each year for four years. Tenure will be phased out completely by 2018. North Carolina teachers have instituted the “Wear Red for Ed.,” campaign which is held every Wednesday to support public education in North Carolina. The program has now become the “Decline to sign” campaign. Only 77 teachers in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School system said they would consider signing the new contracts.
Women are significantly less likely than men to receive extended paid leave from their employer, a new poll shows. In the last few years, just 27 percent of women were paid their full wage when they took more than seven days off to care for themselves, a sick family member or a new baby, the poll says. By contrast, 39 percent of men were paid their full wage during a similar period of leave. The national survey, commissioned by American Women, the Rockefeller Family Fund, and the National Partnership for Women & Families, will be released in its entirety next week. The Huffington Post was offered a preview of the new findings on the discrepancies in extended paid leave among men and women. The poll also finds that 30 percent of women went unpaid entirely while taking extended leave, whereas just 22 percent of men were unpaid. This is despite the fact that there was no significant difference in the overall amount of extended leave taken among women (21 percent) and men (17 percent).
Moral Mondays are back this Saturday (Feb. 8). The Rev. William J. Barber II and his team are making final preparations for the kickoff event. The event is called the Moral March, and Barber said he hopes it will draw more people than the Selma voting rights march of 1965. The march seeks to draw attention to the Voter ID law passed by the Republican supermajority in the General Assembly last year, which has been called the most repressive in the nation. "We’re sending out the call," said Barber, president of the N.C. NAACP and the movement’s chief architect. "Just like Dr. King said ‘come to Selma’ in 1965, we’re saying ‘come to Raleigh’ in 2014.’" The march will begin at Shaw University at 10:30 a.m. and protesters are advised to begin assembling at 9:30 a.m.
As soon as it became official, Ellmers spokeswoman Jessica Wood took to email to call Aiken “a performer whose political views more closely resemble those of San Francisco than Sanford.” C’mon, Jessica. That’s not even a dog-whistle: that’s a full-on “sic ’em, boy.” Perhaps Wood can enlighten the electorate on what people in San Francisco want that people in Sanford don’t. Oh, I get it: Clay is gay and San Francisco is hailed – and yes, demonized – for its acceptance of gay culture. Hmmm. Is Wood insinuating that there are no gays in Sanford? I know at least one, and he’s a great guy.
Micah Beasley, Communications Director
North Carolina Democratic Party
|Paid for by North Carolina Democratic Party. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.|