Another poll, and more declining ratings for Gov. Pat McCrory. The Elon University Poll found the governor’s approval ratings had dropped to 36 percent — down from 46 percent in April when Elon last surveyed North Carolinians. The poll found that McCrory’s steepest declines came from Democrats, but that he has also lost support among independents and Republicans as well. The new poll shows McCrory with 36 percent approving his performance with 45 percent disapproving and 17 percent not sure.
WRAL: Voters Souring on McCrory, Lawmakers
Gov. Pat McCrory’s approval rating continues to sink from the highs he registered in his first months in office, according to a poll released Thursday by Elon University. The Elon University Poll, which surveyed 701 registered voters statewide between last Friday and Monday, also found that less than a third of North Carolina voters approve of the actions of the state General Assembly. Forty-nine percent of voters gave McCrory a thumbs-up in a poll Elon conducted in April, compared with 36 percent who disapproved of his job performance. In the latest poll, his approval has dropped to 36 percent, with 46 percent saying he’s doing a bad job.
Gov. Pat McCrory said he had full confidence in state health agency leader Aldona Wos despite hiring decisions that have drawn calls for investigations and an audit. Wos and other cabinet secretaries are responsible for hiring in their agencies, McCrory told reporters Wednesday, and he cannot micromanage agency personnel decisions from his office. “I’ve given them instructions to make the best hires possible within the rules and procedures and guidelines,” he said. “They accomplish that and they continue to accomplish that. That’s why I have confidence in each of those secretaries, including Dr. Aldona Wos.”
Just how much should the public know about the salaries and lives of public employees? At a news conference on Tuesday, Gov. Pat McCrory chastised outside groups and the media, saying their scrutiny of some public employee salaries has gone too far. "I am concerned that the line is being moved continually about the intrusion into people’s private lives," McCrory said. The governor’s criticism comes after weeks of controversy surrounding pay raises, promotions and the awarding of certain contracts to outside agencies at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Governor McCrory has learned one thing about his new job: He’s not in Charlotte anymore, Toto. And he doesn’t like it. At a news conference, the Governor vented thinly veiled frustration at how politics is played in Raleigh. WRAL reported: “Asked if he was concerned about the scrutiny DHHS has faced, McCrory said it was that scrutiny itself that is the problem. "’I do want to say one concern I have right now, and I will say I read the article today, one concern I have in the future for all the future hires that my cabinet secretaries have to make is that is – I’m extremely concerned at the deep –‘ McCrory said, pausing.
Gov.Pat McCrory’s office reaffirmed his interest in turning the state Medicaid program into a managed care system after he seemed to throw the state’s commitment to that idea into question. Meeting with reporters this week, McCrory was asked, "Are you still pushing toward a managed care system?" McCrory replied: "We’re looking at all options. It’s too early for me to tell what exactly the conclusion we’ll come up with." His office said Thursday that McCrory is sticking with managed care.
Talking About Politics: A Story to Tell
No matter how many hours she works each day or how hard she tries Aldonna Wos can’t seem to catch a break. Almost as soon as she took her job (as Secretary of Health and Human Services) she got flattened by two budget overruns. Then she got run over by two more multi-million dollar train-wrecks called NC FAST and NCTracks. Then she woke up one morning and opened the newspaper and found she’d landed right in the middle of the front page for hiring two twenty-four year-old campaign aides (to Governor McCrory) and paying them $85,000 and $87,500 each. Then she hired two consultants for $25,000 a month each and landed on the front page again. All said, it looked pretty bleak. But there is a subtler side to wrestling the gremlins in the Department of Health and Human Services. Aldonna Wos is a doctor. But, unlike modern medicine, modern government doesn’t run on logic – it runs on the antithesis of logic: Politics. To a doctor cutting Medicaid may look like an exercise in logic and reason but when you add in politics it’s the equivalent of wading into a pit of alligators.
The General Assembly, with McCrory’s blessing, passed a law that prevents the state from expanding Medicaid coverage as was allowed by the law. The state has also opted not to participate in health exchanges aimed at helping individuals to buy insurance. A group called Protect Your Care NC is due to hold a news conference Thursday critical of the McCrory administration of changes required by the Affordable Care Act.
WRAL: Croup: NC Official Sabotaging Federal Health Care Law
A group that included health care professionals on Thursday called for state officials to provide more information to people about changes to health care regulations under the federal Affordable Care Act. Protect Your Care NC argues that Gov. Pat McCrory and Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos are undercutting the law in North Carolina by refusing to expand the Medicaid program and not providing people with the information they need to sign up for health insurance coverage.
In a conference call on Thursday with the North Carolina Democratic Party, two educators expressed their dismay. Staff Writer Lindsay Carbonell was on the call and analyzed some of their remarks. The two participants: Patsy Keever and Leonardo Williams. Patsy Keever is a former state representative in the N.C. General Assembly, and is currently the vice chairwoman of the state party. She also has first-hand experience in the realm of education, serving as a teacher for 25 years. “As a retired public school teacher I have never been more concerned about the state of public education in North Carolina,” she said on the call.
The Durham News: Lawyer becomes 4th candidate for N.C. House District 50 seat
In a news release, Nelson, 34, said he will focus on three issues if appointed to the General Assembly: education, voting rights and fracking. His background in North Carolina law will make him a strong, effective advocate for progressive values, he said. “The Republican agenda will do lasting damage to our state if we don’t fight back against it,” he said in the release. “Our challenge as Democrats is to highlight the threat posed by Governor McCrory and the legislature, to engage with parents and families, and to get them involved in the political process. I am seeking this House seat to give those families a voice.” First-term Rep. Valerie Foushee will resign her District 50 seat and move to the N.C. Senate, where she has been appointed to finish former Sen. Ellie Kinnard’s term in District 23. Kinnaird resigned her seat in August to protest Republican legislative policies and to dedicate her time to getting voters prepared for the state’s restrictive new voter ID law.
Politics NC: GOP Shots Fired?
Well, it looks like it’s not only Democrats smelling blood in the water, Republicans are, too. Governor Pat McCrory has been so hapless and inept that even the GOP sees him as lame duck just nine months into his first term. While the dissatisfaction has bubbled under the surface in Republican circles, it’s starting to rise to the top. Yesterday, Lt. Governor Dan Forest announced that he believes that North Carolina teachers should be the highest paid in the nation. He wouldn’t say how he would pay for those raises, just that the money is there somewhere. Forest is quite clearly staking out ground. He will probably come to rue that statement without any plan to implement it, but, still, it’s a slap at the governor and legislature. It will be interesting to see how his Tea Party audience reacts.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest called Wednesday for North Carolina to pay the nation’s highest teaching salaries and to put wireless broadband Internet – along with the devices students need to use it – into every school in the state. For the broadband initiative he set a goal of 2016. The teaching salary increases would take longer; perhaps a decade or more, he said after speaking to a group of local conservatives gathered for a town hall meeting. He called current teacher salaries "shameful" and said this can all be accomplished without raising taxes.
The House of Representatives on Thursday approved sweeping reforms to the nation’s food stamp program that would cut some $40 billion in nutrition aid over 10 years and deny benefits to millions starting in 2014. By 217 to 210, the House said yes to the measure, with its Republican backers arguing it would help more people find jobs. "This bill is designed to give people a hand when they need it most. Most people don’t choose to be on food stamps. Most people want a job," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) "Most people want to go out and be productive so that they can earn a living, so that they can support a family, so that they can have hope for a more prosperous future. They want what we want.”
The House has voted to cut nearly $4 billion a year from food stamps, a 5 percent reduction to the nation’s main feeding program used by more than 1 in 7 Americans. The 217-210 vote was a win for conservatives after Democrats united in opposition and some GOP moderates said the cut was too high. Fifteen Republicans voted against the measure. The bill’s savings would be achieved by allowing states to put broad new work requirements in place for many food stamp recipients and to test applicants for drugs. The bill also would end government waivers that have allowed able-bodied adults without dependents to receive food stamps indefinitely.
Buzz Feed: Congresswoman Uses Steak, Vodka, and Caviar To Hammer Repbulicans On Food Stamp Cuts
Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier decided to make an unconventional pitch on the House of Representatives floor Thursday to defend food stamps. Speier used a cooked steak, a bottle of vodka, and a can of caviar to point out members of Congress who had large numbers of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in their districts but opposed the program. The congresswoman pointed out many of the same members of Congress took trips around the world with large stipends for food and lodging.
Political Wire: House Republican Angry With Cruz
House Republicans "expressed outrage" with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) when he admitted Republicans did not have the votes in the Senate to defund Obamacare, CNN reports. "The reaction from House Republicans and senior GOP leadership aides to Cruz’s latest statement on the matter was swift and angry, both about Cruz’s lack of confidence in a vote and his urging of the House to ‘stand firm.’" Josh Marshall: "So he’s created this monster he can’t control. Only he was the monster the last crew created. I can’t keep up. But as the Bible says, the Popcorn shall passeth."
Thirty-three percent. That’s President Obama’s approval rating among white voters, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released this week. The number is even worse—30 percent—in the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll. Those are staggeringly low numbers for a president who claimed nearly 40 percent of the white vote during last year’s election. And Obama’s free fall is even worse for Democrats than it appears, because some of next year’s key Senate elections take place in predominantly white states, such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Montana, and West Virginia. Obama is experiencing the kind of slump that besets a president when his second term has been marred by scandal, ineffectiveness, and a lackluster economy.
Congress members in the Carolinas are helping lead a pack of emboldened conservatives in pushing Republican leadership toward a potential government shutdown over the 2010 health care law and, in the process, are driving a wedge between the GOP’s old and new guard. Freshman Reps. Richard Hudson of Concord and Mark Meadows of Jackson County are part of a crew of young conservatives who compelled the House’s GOP leaders to set a vote Friday on legislation to defund Obamacare and keep the government running after the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) joined other Republican lawmakers in calling for Senate conservatives to put up a strong fight against President Obama’s health-care law. "It’s time for them to pick up the mantle and get the job done," Boehner told reporters Thursday, responding to questions about comments from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). Cruz has spent two months agitating Republicans in the House and Senate to risk shutting down the federal government in the effort to strip funding for implementing Obamacare.
If you’re in a hurry, and you can only memorize one fact about the coming congressional debt and budget war, try this: There will be no “defunding of Obamacare.” It’s impossible for Republicans to admit it, great energy is being spent to prevent them from admitting it, and large sums of money are being raised and spent to stop conservatives from realizing it. If you want to skip to the end of this drama, past Friday’s likely vote on the resolution that defunds Obamacare, the final page reads “… and Obamacare survived.”
Sen. Rand Paul said Thursday that Republicans are like Charlie Sheen and are actually “winning” despite criticisms this week of party disarray over a budget strategy that would defund Obamacare, according to reports. “Does anybody remember Charlie Sheen when he was kind of going crazy…And he was going around, jumping around saying ‘Winning, winning, we’re winning,’” Paul (R-Ky.) said, according to an MSNBC report. “Well I kind of feel like that, we are winning. And I’m not on any drugs.”
The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call ratings for House, Senate and Governor are categorized to reflect the degree to which one party or the other is projected to win. Ratings don’t reflect how close a contest is expected to be, but rather the degree of certainty that one political party will win the seat.
Despite being arguably the two most powerful political figures in the state – and potential U.S. Senate candidates – House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger are not well known among voters surveyed by the Elon University Poll. Roughly one-third of 683 registered voters said they had heard of either figure. That’s not good for the Republicans hoping to challenge Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in a race that will be the only statewide contest on the ballot in 2014. Name identification is crucial for both raising money and gathering grass roots support.
A Forsyth County state senator is considering whether to enter the already crowded Republican U.S. Senate primary next year. Sen. Pete Brunstetter said he’s doing so after Senate leader Phil Berger, who is also weighing a similar bid, asked him recently to think about it. Brunstetter, who within the GOP majority at the legislature became one of the Senate’s three chief budget writers, said he has no exact timetable for deciding on joining the field that’s seeking to take on Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan. But he pointed out that Hagan announced her decision to enter the U.S. Senate race six years ago in late October.
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
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