Practically everybody in state and national office takes a beating in the latest Elon University poll – from President Obama’s health-care reform, to both senators from North Carolina, to the legislature and candidates aspiring to the U.S. Senate. More than half of those surveyed (54 percent) think the Affordable Care Act will make things worse in this state. That’s a four-point drop since September, amid widely reported problems with the federal website and policy cancellations. Gov. Pat McCrory’s approval rating is still going down: 33 percent approve of the job he is doing, which is a drop from 36 percent in September and 46 percent in April. He still has strong support among Republicans, but only 29 percent of independent voters give him the thumbs-up.
Gov. Pat McCrory is facing more scrutiny for his comments earlier this week about the state’s new voting law in a national TV interview. "If you survey, most (North Carolina) Democrats also agree with our (election) laws and voter ID,” the Republican governor told MSNBC on Wednesday morning. But PolitiFact says McCrory is “mostly false.” The award-winning fact-checking website took a look at recent polls on the subject and found little recent evidence to support the governor’s assertion. PolitiFact concluded: “There’s a bunch of polling data on this question; some of it is conflicted, and much of it with a degree of uncertainty due to small sample sizes in the polls. Still, there’s enough data to cast at least some doubt on the accuracy of McCrory’s statement.
One of the most contentious battles over voting rights in 2013 took place in North Carolina, where a Republican governor and legislature enacted a bill to overhaul the way the state holds elections. Among other things, the measure — passed with strong Republican support and broad Democratic opposition — required voters to show a government-issued ID at the polls, shortened the early voting period, ended same-day voter registration, and ended provisional ballots for voters who go to the wrong precinct.
Speaking with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on Wednesday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory defended the recent changes to his state’s early voting policy, saying that he and fellow GOP lawmakers did not shorten the early voting period but rather “compacted the calendar.” “First of all, we didn’t shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar,” McCrory said to Todd. “But we’re going to have the same hours in which polls are open in early voting, and we’re going to have more polls available. So it’s going to be almost identical. It’s just the schedule has changed. The critics are kind of using that line when, in fact, the legislation does not shorten the hours for early voting.” McCrory is right in a technical sense; the aggregate number of voting hours available is unaffected by the law. But this provision was inserted by Democrats, and what’s more has nothing to do with the seven full days of early voting that the law removed — or the law’s banning of pre- and same-day registration for voters.
New and more severe punishments for adults who abuse or endanger children or who fail to report malice against them are among more than 40 pieces of legislation about to take effect in North Carolina. Other laws enforced starting Dec. 1 will reduce potential punishments for misdemeanors labeled the least likely to require incarceration — changing from community service or probation to a fine in most cases. In the aftermath of the Anthony case, many states passed laws similar to the one that the North Carolina General Assembly approved this year and Gov. Pat McCrory signed. North Carolina didn’t have an exact time period after which a parent was required to report a missing child to authorities, a bill sponsor of "Caylee’s Law" said.
More than 40 new laws will go into effect Dec. 1 that will give new and more severe punishments to adults in North Carolina who abuse, endanger or fail to report malice against children. One of them, Kilah’s Law, will more than double maximum prison terms for the most serious child abuse charge. Parents will also be required to alert authorities if children under the age of 16 go missing for 24 hours. There will also be a $500 fine for failing to stop for a school bus dropping off children.New laws will also reduce punishments for low-grade misdemeanors to fines in most cases.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane said Friday that state officials need to pick up the pace of negotiations that will allow Raleigh to convert the Dorothea Dix campus south of downtown into a regional park. "The whole process has been very frustrating," McFarlane said. McFarlane sent McCrory a letter on Nov. 13 stating concerns about a "pattern of delay" in the negotiations, noting the city had a Dec. 1 deadline for environment assessments of the property. "It just seemed to become harder and harder to get the information back that we needed," she said Friday. "I felt he needed to know that we were not going to meet that Dec. 1 deadline and why." The deadline has since been pushed back to March 1.
But on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did it anyway. He took the unprecedented step of gutting Senate filibuster rules for presidential nominees on a straight party-line vote, a high-stakes gambit that could have enormous implications for future presidents, reshape an institution he’s served in for 26 years, and ultimately define Reid’s legacy as one of the longest-serving Democratic leaders in history — one with a penchant for bare-knuckled tactics. On the weekend of Nov. 9, Reid enlisted his top lieutenants, Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois, to help take the caucus’ temperature. But after several weeks of counting votes, Reid was still encountering skepticism even among his confidants as late as Monday evening. He bucked up his troops ahead of the hugely controversial move. “This is the right thing to do,” Reid told one of his closest advisers. “If I don’t do this, I might as well just walk away.”
Political Wire: Who to Blame
Congressional scholar Norm Ornstein told First Read the blame for invoking the "nuclear option" in the Senate was squarely on Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Said Ornstein: "This was an in-your-face, go-ahead-I-dare-you equivalent of a bully saying, ‘Go ahead and hit me,’ When the other kid says, ‘No,’ you spit in his face, kick him in the groin and force him to go ahead and do it."
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is giving an address to a group that stresses development and diplomacy. On Monday, Hagan is scheduled to speak at a Raleigh lunch being hosted by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Organizers say Hagan is planning to talk about America’s global leadership and its impact on North Carolina’s economy and security. Retired U.S. Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis is also scheduled to address the group. He led the NATO Alliance in global operations as Supreme Allied Commander and also served as Commander of U.S. Southern Command. Stavridis is currently dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
On this day, 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas, Texas. As the nation celebrates his life and legacy, a special commemorative gift has been given to the community. A photograph of Kennedy is being donated today to the Burke County Democratic Party by active party leader Emmett Powell. The photograph was taken during his presidential campaign when he was serving as a senator. “Powell has been a party leader here in Burke County for probably 40 to 50 years. He’s worked actively in the precinct,” said Marcus Key, BCDP chair and state executive committee member. “We appreciate the gift he is donating to us.”
The Yadkin County Democratic Party met Nov. 7 at Yadkin Valley Seafood Restaurant in Yadkinville. State Democratic Party Chair Randy Voller was the speaker. County Chair Larry Vestal told the group of 45 that it is rare that the state chair ever comes to speak in Yadkin County. “Chairman Voller made a commitment to visit all 100 counties in North Carolina and he is keeping his word,” Vestal said. Voller said the Democratic Party had a great day at the polls on Nov. 5. Democrats won many mayoral and city council races across the state, including Charlotte, Boone, Winston-Salem, Durham, Wilmington and Greensboro. The chair’s primary message to Yadkin Democrats is to stay united and to emphasize the positive message to county citizens during the coming elections, Vestal said.
There will be a rare political sighting in Raleigh today: Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, two politicians who agree on little, are both attending a luncheon in downtown Raleigh. The event is to talk about global leadership and North Carolina’s economy and security. The two men responsible for the coup: former state Govs. Jim Hunt, a Democrat, and Jim Martin, a Republican.
American’s for Prosperity has launched its second television ad targeting U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan for her support of the Affordable Care Act. "Obamacare doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work," concludes a woman who looks straight into the camera for the majority of the 30-second spot. A spokesman for American’s for Prosperity says it will spend $1.5 million airing this ad on both cable and broadcast television in North Carolina. That’s in addition to the $1.65 million spent on the group’s first ad targeting Hagan’s support for the Affordable Care Act. Upon request, Americans for Prosperity provided citations for those claims. The Hagan campaign has offered its own document refuting the claims. The following is WRAL News’ analysis. For those who want to skip to the bottom line, none of these claims are absolutely false, but the commercial doesn’t tell the whole story, and viewers who don’t seek more information could be misled.
Candidates seeking the North Carolina seat in the U.S. Senate up for grabs in 2014 may want to keep a low profile over the next year. An Elon University Poll released Friday shows that few people know the three major Republican candidates for the seat, now held by Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, and those who do don’t generally like them. House Speaker Thom Tillis had the greatest name recognition in the GOP field at 28 percent, compared with 17 percent for Rev. Mark Harris, the former president of the State Baptist Convention, and 10 percent for Cary obstetrician Dr. Greg Brannon.
Football helmets of Alamance County’s high schools are perched on shelves behind the Graham Soda Shop counter, paying tribute to the community’s favorite teams. They’re also a reminder of what area voters have come to expect of U.S. Rep. Howard Coble the past 29 years. That’s because it’s long been routine for the Greensboro Republican to ask people he meets in the 6th Congressional District where they attended high school. Then he recites the school’s mascot — a signal he knows well the Triad region where he’s lived for most of his life. Supporters and detractors of his policies also call him a hard worker who has religiously showed up at local events and handled citizen requests.
A conservative blog in Louisiana on Thursday posted an image of Sen. Mary Landrieu’s face superimposed on the body of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini — and an hour later, the campaign manager of Landrieu’s main opponent next year, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), tweeted out a link to the post.The Hayride blog on Louisiana politics featured an entry — under the headline, “Mary Voted To Kill The Filibuster Today…” — about Landrieu’s vote with fellow Democrats to invoke the so-called nuclear option, which changed Senate rules to prevent filibusters against most presidential nominations. The photo, which was uploaded to the site with the filename “MussoLandrieu,” accompanied the story.
South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore shares some striking political data when visiting local party meetings: In a state where the GOP holds most statewide offices and congressional and state legislative seats, Democrats still hold the counties. Democrats also outnumber Republicans as sheriffs, coroners and auditors. But that could change in 2014. Moore says his goal in next year’s elections is to flip the local offices to Republican control, completing a transformation that started nearly 50 years ago when then-Democrat Sen. Strom Thurmond went on statewide television and announced he was switching to the GOP — in a state so heavily Democratic that it didn’t even list party affiliations in its legislative manual. The same transformation is occurring elsewhere in the South, in places where Republicans often didn’t put up candidates because Democrats had such a lock on the electorate.
Winning back the legislature in 2014 is a tall order for North Carolina Democrats. In the state house, the GOP holds a whopping 34 seat advantage, 77-43. In the state senate, Republicans out number Democrats 33-17, a 16 seat advantage. So Democrats would have to flip 18 house districts and 9 senate districts to gain a majority. Short of a national wave, that’s probably not going to happen. But Democrats can certainly make gains in the legislature and set themselves up to win control in 2016 or 2018. However, they need to focus on changing the make up of the electorate. Historically, Democrats have tried accomplish that by increasing turn out in the African-American community. That won’t work now.
Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) again set tongues wagging about his presidential aspirations Sunday by talking about his intention to visit every county in Iowa. Speaking on MSNBC’s "Up With Steve Kornacki," Schweitzer dodged a direct question about his 2016 intentions — but strongly suggested he was considering a run. "Well, I’ll just say there’s around 100 counties in Iowa, and on my bucket list is to try and make it to all the counties of Iowa someday," Schweitzer said. He had previously sparked speculation about his plans when he was quoted as saying he holds the people of Iowa and New Hampshire, both all-important early primary states, "in high regard." And he’s scheduled to speak at a progressive gathering in Iowa in mid-December. Schweitzer earlier this year frustrated Democrats by passing over a bid for Montana’s open Senate seat.
Working ballot by ballot, county by county, the Republican Party is attempting to alter voting laws in the biggest and most important swing states in the country in hopes of carving out a sweeping electoral advantage for years to come. Changes already on the books or in bills before state legislatures would make voting harder, create longer lines, and threaten to disenfranchise millions of voters from Ohio to Florida, Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, Georgia to Arizona and Texas. Efforts underway include moving election days, ending early voting and forcing strict new voter ID laws. The results could significantly cut voter turnout in states where, historically, low participation has benefited Republicans.
Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said it’s "still too early to tell" if the federal health insurance law will stand as more setbacks plague its implementation. Goodwin, a Democrat, made his comments during a Fox News interview Friday morning. He met in the Oval Office with President Barack Obama and other National Association of Insurance Commissioners on Wednesday to talk about the health care law. (See video below.) Even with eight other states saying they won’t allow people to keep their current insurance plans for one year, as the White House proposed last week, Goodwin said he felt it was necessary. "The decisions was because I have 473,000 North Carolinians who will have a gap in insurance coverage and that would be devastating to those families and their pocket books," he told interview Bill Hemmer. "Frankly, I think it’s the only decision I could make under the circumstances."
On May 20, 2009, four Republicans — Reps. Paul Ryan and Devin Nunes and Sens. Richard Burr and Tom Coburn — unveiled their alternative to the health-care plans then being considered by congressional Democrats. “We have introduced a comprehensive health care reform bill, the Patients’ Choice Act, that, we believe, will bring us far closer to the goal of universal coverage than the Obama plan,” they wrote in a joint essay. This was in the heady months of possibility before Republicans concluded that their optimal health-care policy would be repeal-and-mumblemumble. The Patients’ Choice Act was a thoughtful effort to expand coverage. It had much in common with the plan that ultimately became Obamacare. The biggest similarity — reflecting a shared heritage in conservative health-care reform circles — was a reliance on state-based insurance exchanges.
The above chart by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities relies on data collected by Michigan’s Luke Shaefer and Harvard’s Kathryn Edin, who have found that over a million U.S. households make less than $2 per person per day, a level of poverty so extreme it’s usually only found in very poor developing countries, not in the richest nation on Earth. There’s a catch, however: safety net programs, most importantly food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit, rescue almost half these households from extreme poverty. This suggests that maybe now isn’t the best time to be cutting food stamps. Just maybe. Click “Know More” to read more about extreme poverty in America.
For a second weekend in a row, a group gathered to protest the new policy at Myrtle Grove Christian School. This weekend the group grew to about 50 people. Protestors said they wanted to speak out against the policy that they claim promotes hate. According to a letter sent home to families, the policy gives the school the right to refuse admission of an applicant whose home life includes "homosexual or bisexual activity."
Equality NC, a state equality group, is holding a press conference Tuesday to address the public funding of anti-gay schools. According to a press release from the group, the press conference will be at 4 p.m. at an undetermined location on the downtown Wilmington riverwalk. In the release, the group states the conference will, "specifically speak to broader public opposition of Wilmington’s Myrtle Grove Christian School’s decision to deny admission or continued enrollment to gay students and children from gay families in 2014."
We’ve all got a crazy uncle we love. He might not even technically be an uncle — it’s not something the family likes to get into — but he’s there at Thanksgiving every year just the same, getting heavy handed with the 1.5-liter wine bottle, insisting on calling the dog "bitch," starting with off-color jokes that made people uncomfortable even before the country "evolved" and finishing with a tea party-inspired screed about the Kenyan in the White House. We’ll call him Uncle Hank. Everyone has or knows a Hank — that is, except for Hank. Hank has a problem on turkey day: his hopelessly naive, Nation-reading, vegetarian niece who likes to quote from Howard Zinn and tell him about the genocidal roots of the holiday they’ve gathered to celebrate. She wants to spread the wealth around, but has no interest in hard work, no respect for the people who make this country run. She has never signed the front of a paycheck. Let’s call her Emily.
Last week, North Carolina policymakers decided the tax-cut bill they passed just four months ago created enough confusion to require new legislation to clarify and “fix” it. The problem is their “fix” does not address the fundamental problems with the tax cuts. The tax cuts will significantly reduce resources for public schools, courts, public health and job training even if the new legislation is enacted. Worse, while the new legislation helps clarify how the sales-tax expansion will work, it fails to remedy the glaring flaw that middle- and low-income taxpayers will, on average, pay more in taxes as a share of their income than millionaires because massive income tax cuts were paid for by a shift to a greater reliance on the sales tax.
As a 36-year cancer survivor, I am watching with great interest as the debate rages over whether the Affordable Care Act strengthens the individual insurance market, as the law’s supporters contend, or dismantles it, as critics say. Having been repeatedly denied health coverage I needed and wanted to buy because of my pre-existing condition, I know that provisions of the law can dramatically improve the quality and cost of insurance for people shopping for coverage on their own. I was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia as a college student. After nearly five years of aggressive chemotherapy, immunotherapy, bone marrow harvests and more, I was cancer-free. My cancer has never returned, but since then I have waged a battle of a different kind — a three-decade struggle to obtain quality, affordable coverage.
For many years there has been one overwhelming rule for people who wanted to be considered serious inside the Beltway. It was this: You must declare your willingness to cut Social Security in the name of “entitlement reform.” It wasn’t really about the numbers, which never supported the notion that Social Security faced an acute crisis. It was instead a sort of declaration of identity, a way to show that you were an establishment guy, willing to impose pain (on other people, as usual) in the name of fiscal responsibility. But a funny thing has happened in the past year or so. Suddenly, we’re hearing open discussion of the idea that Social Security should be expanded, not cut. Talk of Social Security expansion has even reached the Senate, with Tom Harkin introducing legislation that would increase benefits. A few days ago Senator Elizabeth Warren gave a stirring floor speech making the case for expanded benefits.
When I was a kid growing up in a small North Carolina town, they taught us that Reconstruction was a time of hardship and deprivation. Carpetbaggers came down from up North to take advantage of the defeated Southerners through political corruption and generally plundering the war-torn region. They were essentially profiteers who exploited southern labor and southern land without giving much back. I didn’t know any Yankees back then and I was pretty sure I didn’t want to. We ascribed the term Carpetbagger to anyone from out of state who came to North Carolina and tried to get involved in business or government. We were sure their motives were dubious. For the past 50 years, our leaders, Democratic and Republican, kept our basest instincts at bay. While we weren’t perfect, we navigated Civil Rights better than our neighbors and put faith in education. We argued around the margins, but at our core, we were a centrist state, known for good government and a destination for businesses and families.
There is a lot of political talk about how North Carolina is “broken,” but something must be going right because the Tar Heel State is one of the one of the nation’s hot spots. How hot? Only Texas and Florida had more net immigration than North Carolina during the past decade, says Rebecca Tippett, director of Carolina Demography, a program based at the Carolina Population Center on the University of North Carolina campus. That is a net migration of 2 million people who have moved into the state since 1990. North Carolina once had the highest native-born population of any state in the country – hence the words of the Carolina fight song: “I’m a Tar Heel born, I’m a Tar Heel bred. And when I die, I’m a Tar Heel dead.” Today 42 percent of Tar Heel residents were born outside the state, Tippett said. That figure was 30 percent in 1990 and 15 percent in 1950, 10 percent in 1930, and 5 percent in 1910. They have come from every state and from all over the world. But in the past decade the majority have come from New York (440,000), Virginia (300,000) and Mexico (250,000), Tippett said. North Carolina has gone from a state that was largely native-born to a state that now looks pretty much like the rest of the country. North Carolina’s non-native population was ranked 28th among the states in 2010, or at about the national average, according to the Virginia Center for Politics.
My son Max is a 25-year-old singer and songwriter who goes by the moniker Dolfish. When my friends ask how his career is going, I say, “There’s a girl in Indiana with Dolfish tattooed on her arm,” although that doesn’t exactly answer their question. They know Max was signed to an indie record label when he was 23. They know he tours a lot and has been reviewed by some important music sites and even by mainstream magazines. They know these things because I send them links with messages like this: “Paste says Max is a ‘remarkably strong songwriter … worth following his yelp down whatever future path he explores.’” Or this from American Songwriter, describing Max as having “a unique voice and lo-fi mindset” (I assume a lo-fi mindset is a good thing).
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
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