NYTimes: New Democratic Strategy Goes After Koch Brothers

Charles G. and David H. Koch, the billionaire brothers who are perhaps the best-known patrons of conservative Republican politics, are bespectacled and in their 70s. They look genial enough. But Democrats are embarking on a broad effort that aims to unmask the press-shy siblings and portray them, instead, as a pair of villains bent on wrecking progressive politics. On Thursday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is starting a digital campaign that will use Internet ads and videos, as well as social media, to tie Republican Senate candidates to the policies and actions of the Koch brothers. Its slogan: “The G.O.P. is addicted to Koch” (pronounced coke).

NY Times: With Eye on Midterms, Obama Pushes Rise in Minimum Wage

“It’s time to give America a raise,” Mr. Obama said to a rowdy crowd of 3,000 students at Central Connecticut State University. “It’s not bad business to do right by your workers; it’s good business.” Saying that even in a high-tech economy there will always be hospital workers and servers at fast-food restaurants — “people who work their tails off every day” — Mr. Obama said a higher minimum wage would lift millions out of poverty and stimulate the broader economy. Raising the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 is both a legislative priority for the president and the kind of liberal policy proposal that could help the White House hold on to Democratic seats in Congress in a difficult midterm election year.

North Carolina Politics:

News & Observer: 7 NC General Assembly Moral Monday protestors aquitted

The attempt to summon the legislative leaders to court came on a day when seven protesters were acquitted for demonstrating in a Legislative Complex that they claim belongs as much to them as to the lawmakers doing business there.

News & Observer: New TV ad lays Dan River spill at governor’s feet

The Washington-based Natural Resources Defense Council has made a major TV ad purchase laying the Dan River coal ash spill squarely at Gov. Pat McCrory’s doorstep. “Pat McCrory has coal ash on his hands,” a narrator says, followed by an image of McCrory with a muck-covered palm. The ad will begin running Thursday and run for two weeks on every major network station and about a dozen cable channels in the Triangle and Triad.

Charlotte Observer: Senate candidate Thom Tillis’ first campaign draws new scrutiny from some conservatives

The Republican is returning to the story of his political roots as he campaigns for the U.S. Senate. “I’ve only been in office since 2007,” he said after filing his candidacy papers last week. “I served for a small time in the town of Cornelius. I was PTA president eight years ago.” The effort is designed to portray Tillis as the candidate who can deliver results and push back against his label as the establishment candidate. But it also highlights his start in state politics in 2006 when he ousted a conservative lawmaker in a GOP primary – a campaign under renewed scrutiny from some conservative activists, a population key to the primary and one that is skeptical of Tillis.

News and Observer: GOP primary debate set for April

Republican candidates vying for U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s seat are set to debate April 22 on Time Warner Cable News. “Capital Tonight” anchor Tim Boyum will moderate the hour-long debate, which starts at 7 p.m. and will air on News 14 and HD channel 1114. It will also be streamed live on, and

News & Record: NAACP leader: Coal ash spill is disaster, sin

The deflection of responsibility by Gov. Pat McCrory and his administration “is immoral. It’s unjust. It’s sinful. And it’s time for repentance,” the Rev. William Barber told about 100 protesters who gathered across the street from North Carolina’s Executive Mansion. “And so we call on this governor and this government on this day, this Ash Wednesday, to see this coal ash spill as a call for us as a state and for them as leaders to repent and to the right thing: Clean up the ash.”

Reflector: Officials want pipes at Duke plants probed

RALEIGH — North Carolina regulators are pressing Duke Energy to send robot cameras up drainage pipes at all of its coal ash dumps in the state following a big spill last month that left 70 miles of the Dan River coated in toxic sludge.

Under the Dome: More metal pipes found at Duke coal ash sites

Corrugated metal pipes similar to the one that ruptured last month and caused a massive coal ash spill at a retired Duke Energy power plant in Eden are in use at eight other Duke plants in North Carolina, the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Wednesday. The Feb. 2 spill in the Dan River prompted a review of Duke’s 14 current and retired coal-fired plants statewide

Troop cuts could hurt in North Carolina

Growing fruits and vegetables on 200 acres of Lenoir County land is sometimes a hard way to make a living. Curtis Smith knows it’s the military in North Carolina that gives his family farm a fighting chance. Smith sells his strawberries, cantaloupes, watermelons, sweet potatoes and collard greens through local grocery stores, farmers markets and roadside stands. But for some of those crops, up to half the annual sales of T.C. Smith Produce Farm Inc. are to a company that provides produce for commissaries at military installations, including Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune. If the military reduces troop strength to pre-World War II levels and cuts spending as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposed last week, Smith might have to cut back on the acreage he plants and restructure the loans he took out to install new packing and irrigation equipment. “It could be devastating to us,” said Smith, a fourth-generation farmer who has been trying to keep his young strawberry plants from freezing. “You always keep in the back of your mind that something can happen, but it’d be tough.”

UNC-system budget sent by State Budget Director Art Pope

Leaders from every stage of education in North Carolina — from pre-kindergarten to higher education — appealed to Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday for a share of the state’s limited funds. In a state education cabinet meeting, McCrory heard the budget priorities of the UNC system, the community college system, public K-12 education and early childcare and pre-K. Leaders from each rattled off a list of objectives that they want funded in the short session — including salary increases for public school teachers, community college instructors and system faculty.

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