With McCrory on the ropes, dark money group comes to rescue launches TV ads, DHHS ‘becoming a mess,’ NC hospital closes due to #NCGOP rejection of Medicaid expansion, Berger v. McCrory Round 2 this time on Dix Deal, Rep. Foushee tapped for Kinnard Seat, Phil Berger up on air with voter ID ad; Hagan campaign dismantles claims, a look at the 2016 field for Democrats in NC and McCrory finally ‘bites back,’ but at what cost?
A Thursday poll conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling shows that the Tar Heel state’s favorability declined from 40 percent to 30 percent over the past two years. When compared to the 2011 data, the state would have ranked 40th instead of ninth.
"We know from repeated polling over the last few months that North Carolinians are very unhappy with what’s happened to their state this year," PPP wrote in its poll release. "The national polling makes it clear that the rest of the country feels the same way." The "what’s happened" bit included the passage of two controversial bills earlier this summer. Back in late July, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed a restrictive abortion bill into law, including measures ranging from sex-selective bans to tighter rules on clinics. Two weeks later, he signed a voter ID bill into law that requires identification at the polls and eliminates some disenfranchisement protections.
A nonprofit group founded to support Gov. Pat McCrory has bought ad time in the Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte markets, according to public disclosures filed with the FCC. The Renew North Carolina Foundation, originally created as The Foundation for North Carolina, held inaugural events for the governor in January and this spring hosted South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for a fundraising event in Greensboro. Tickets for all two days of the Greensboro event cost $10,000. It appears the foundation is ready to put some of that money to work.
As Gov. Pat McCrory’s newly appointed secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, Aldona Wos gave a speech to employees in January in which she outlined her three priorities. The first and third seemed sensible enough, improve communication and seek a building to combine scattered offices. But No. 2 struck an odd note: “That we have proper cleanliness in our offices and our buildings.”Now, eight months into her tenure, that priority has taken on a symbolic twist. Wos might have cleaned the clutter in some offices and buildings, but her department is becoming a mess.
A small hospital in a coastal North Carolina community will close its doors within months and its parent company says Gov. Pat McCrory’s (R) decision not to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health care reform law is partly to blame. Vidant Health, a nonprofit 10-hospital network, will shutter the 49-bed Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven, about an hour’s drive east of the chain’s Greenville headquarters, within six months, the company announced this week. Other considerations, including outdated facilities, also led to the company’s decision to close the hospital but North Carolina foregoing the Medicaid expansion contributed to the decision, Vidant Health CEO David Herman told The Huffington Post. North Carolina is one of 26 states where Republican governors or state legislators have rejected the Medicaid expansion. The expansion is intended to provide health benefits to anyone who makes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $15,282 for a single person this year.
An employee of state Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos’ husband landed a lucrative contract that puts him among the highest-paid workers at the department.
News and Observer: Across North Carolina, voters’ opinions on Republicans waver after legislative session Before N.C. 194 stretches north from this mountain town into the hillsides patterned with Christmas tree farms, before it reaches tiny churches with proud steeples, before it leaves behind small towns with too few jobs, it passes the Goober Peas Country Store. Maggie Hampton, 37, works the cash register at the small convenience store. She carpools to work to save gas money and closely watches her money. Hampton doesn’t pay much attention to what happens three hours east in Raleigh, but she knows how the recent legislative session affects her. She worries about the elimination of the back-to-school sales tax holiday next year. Her husband recently left his job as a special education teacher at the local high school after years without raises and job security. And her son’s sixth-grade homeroom class is packed.
Freshman state Rep. Valerie Foushee will replace resigning Chapel Hill Democrat Ellie Kinnaird in the North Carolina Senate. A committee of Orange and Chatham County Democrats selected Foushee, D-Orange, from a list of several contenders, including Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, former state Rep. Alice Bordsen and well-known author and blogger Amy Tiemann. Foushee will serve the remainder of Kinnaird’s term, expiring December 2014. Because the district is considered one of the few "safe" Democratic districts drawn in the GOP’s 2011 redistricting maps, she is considered likely to then win election to a full term.
Dome: Berger not happy with McCrory’s position on Dix
It’s nice that the governor and Raleigh’s mayor are getting all bipartisan over the Dix deal and all, but it still ain’t right.That’s the message from Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger on Thursday, following Gov. Pat McCrory’s and Mayor Nancy McFarlane’s news conference earlier in the day. “We appreciate that the governor and Raleigh mayor are attempting to make things right for the taxpayers of North Carolina and the state’s mentally ill,” Berger said in a statement his office released. “But it is difficult to understand why they are extending an unlawful lease.
The Washington Post has been spending a lot of time in Raleigh lately. Earlier in the week, its GovBeat state and local government blog looked at the GOP lineup against Sen. Kay Hagan. The piece included an extended interview with “an impeccably coiffed man in a pinstriped suit and French cuffs named Thom Tillis.” On Friday, the blog took a look at Democratic contenders for governor, following a rough week for the Republican incumbent. The Post talked to Attorney General Roy Cooper, who says it’s too early to decide about a 2016 campaign, but “I’m deeply concerned about where this state’s headed.”
From the Young Democrats of North Carolina: On their statewide “Bootstraps Tour,” on Saturday, September 7 2013, the Young Democrats of North Carolina will call to increase the minimum wage to $11.35 an hour. The tour will highlight this and other solutions to fight poverty and create jobs in North Carolina, including what the General Assembly and our Governor could do to help working-class and poor North Carolinians pull themselves up. "North Carolina should raise the state minimum wage to $11.35 to incentivize work and put more money into North Carolina’s economy. A North Carolina family of four needs a breadwinner working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, for $11.32 an hour just to be at the federal poverty line ($23,550). $7.25 just doesn’t cut it," said YDNC president Sam Spencer in a statement. "All North Carolina citizens deserve the dignity of an above-the-poverty-line job, and North Carolina taxpayers deserve a workforce that can lift itself up."
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan told workers at research equipment maker Thermo Fisher she was disappointed that Congress allowed automatic spending cuts this year.The sequester, as the cuts are known, required government researcher National Institutes of Health to cut 5 percent from its budget, hurting companies like Thermo Fisher that make some of the products it uses. North Carolina lost $50 million in funding for academic research, she said on Friday, meaning a loss of about 1,000 jobs. Hagan told the workers people need to realize the sequester, if not changed, will last another 9 years. “To me, its unacceptable,” she said. “We are moving backwards and in Congress we have got to find a solution.”
U.S. Senator Kay Hagan today toured Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Asheville facility. Thermo Fisher employs 750 people at the Asheville site where they manufacture lab products such as ultra-low temperature freezers. After the tour, Hagan spoke with employees at the facility about issues in Washington that affect their industry, workforce development and the overall economy. “Products manufactured by Thermo Fisher are used to develop advancements in medical technology, find real-life solutions to the real-life challenges faced by society and create more high-tech, high-paying jobs in North Carolina and across the country,” Hagan said.
When North Carolina Republicans passed a package of election law reforms this year, Democrats cried foul. As in other states, the new reforms required voters to show identification at the polls, and cut the number of early voting days when polling stations would be open before an election. But the package also contained several revisions to state election laws that go well beyond requiring an identification and cutting voting days — including some that will likely have a bigger impact on the future of the state’s election results than either of the best-known provisions.
The son of New Hampshire’s Senate majority leader was found to have voted in two states while a college student in 2008, the Union Leader reported Thursday. The paper reports that Sebastian Bradley cast a vote in Colorado and an absentee ballot in New Hampshire during the 2008 election. At the time, Bradley was a student at Colorado State University and had registered to vote in both Larimer County, Colo., and in Wolfeboro, N.H. The Union Leader cited election records in Larimer County and with the Wolfeboro town clerk. Bradley is the son of New Hampshire state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), a former U.S. congressman who attempted a return to Washington in 2008.
States and cities across the South, facing less heat from the U.S. Department of Justice over laws governing how their constituents vote, are raising alarms from voting rights groups as those jurisdictions propose changes that could turn back the gains minorities have won in the electoral landscape. In Pasadena, a Houston-area community that has changed from being mostly a white refinery town to being almost two-thirds Hispanic, Ornaldo Ybarra, one of two Hispanic council members , said there is a “disconnect” between the community’s Hispanic residents and City Hall.
It seems like the 2016 U.S. Senate race is underway. Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan is responding to GOP Senate leader Phil Berger’s new TV ad on voter ID. Berger is not an announced candidate but his TV ad sure makes it look like he is running — hitting Hagan in the opening lines.The Hagan campaign will release a point-by-point counter to the Berger ad Monday to highlight her opposition to voter ID and try to put focus on the other voting law changes deeper in the bill. “Kay is standing up for access to the ballot box for all voters because she believes this fundamental right shouldn’t be a political football,” said Preston Elliott, Hagan’s campaign manager, in a statement. “Phil Berger can self-promote all he wants, but at the end of the day, his disastrous record in the General Assembly and attempts to open up elections to corporate influence will speak for themselves. North Carolinians need leaders focused on jobs and rebooting the economy for middle class families, not politicians willing to mislead voters just to throw political potshots.”
State Senate leader Phil Berger is airing a TV spot beginning this week highlighting the passage of the elections bill this past session. The advertisement raises the question: Berger is running for U.S. Senate, isn’t he? The Eden Republican has yet to announce a decision about seeking the GOP nomination to run against Sen. Kay Hagan.
North Carolina Senate President Phil Berger (R) is coming off a legislative session that cemented him as one of the dominant forces in state politics, if not the only one . But he’s hinting he might have a grander stage in mind.
Berger’s campaign will launch a statewide advertisement next week touting an election reform bill that earned conservative praise and liberal outrage after the legislature passed it earlier this year. The ad, which Berger aides said they would spend more than $100,000 to air, will run in the Greensboro media market.
Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s Democratic attorney general, says it’s far too early to declare his intention to run against McCrory. But after 13 years in statewide office, and after declining entreaties to run for governor and Senate in previous elections, Cooper isn’t doing much to conceal his interest in the state’s top job. “I’m deeply concerned about where this state’s headed, and I want to help lead North Carolina in a better direction. It’s too early to make an announcement,” he says when asked whether he’ll run for governor in 2016. But, he adds, he’ll make a formal declaration “relatively soon.” State Sen. Josh Stein says he’s interested in statewide office, too. Stein, 46, represents downtown Raleigh and western Wake County, and Democrats see him as one of the emerging leaders of the party. Stein says he won’t run against Cooper, his former boss (Stein served as deputy attorney general for consumer protection before winning his seat), but he’s likely to be on the statewide ballot in three years.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former secretary of state and potential 2016 presidential candidate, is planning to make remarks about the intensifying situation in Syria during a visit to the White House on Monday. Clinton has not personally addressed the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that U.S. officials say was carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime or how she believes the United States should respond. Although an aide issued a statement last Tuesday saying she supports President Obama’s effort to seek authorization from Congress for a retaliatory strike.
There is no way around it: For governors to have vetoes overridden is not a good thing; to have them overridden by a legislature of the same political party is even worse.Gov. Pat McCrory suffered that fate last Wednesday when the state Senate, a day after action by the House, quickly dispensed with two override votes. One came on a new law that will allow drug testing of welfare applicants; the other involved allowing employers to avoid immigration checks on a larger number of workers defined as seasonal labor. McCrory had argued that the first bill was unnecessary and would lead to a court challenge. He said the second would mean fewer jobs for North Carolina residents. On the first bill, he is probably right. The change may not withstand a legal challenge. On the second, he could be right, but the state’s farming community was adamant that it needed the change to align state law with a federal guest workers program.
Gov. Pat McCrory certainly must have shocked his fellow Republicans in the N.C. General Assembly last week when he announced that he wouldn’t implement one of the bills passed by lawmakers because they didn’t provide enough money for him to do so. He made the announcement about an hour after the N.C. Senate joined the N.C. House in quickly and overwhelmingly overriding his veto of the bill requiring drug-testing for certain welfare recipients. Lawmakers appropriated $145,000 in the state budget to implement the drug-testing law. But the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services says the law will require $300,000 more to make computer changes, not including the expenses that will have to be covered by all 100 counties. McCrory is on uncertain if not shaky ground. Governors have a constitutional duty to enforce the laws enacted by the legislature. And McCrory signed the budget bill that contained the funding for implementation of the drug-testing measure.
I’m not insulted that Gov. Pat McCrory notes, correctly, that most journalists don’t have degrees in economics. I’m not guffawing that former colleague Mark Binker points out, correctly, that the governor doesn’t have an economics degree, either. I am wondering if McCrory realizes that his barb doesn’t sting only reporters. If "this is too complex for the journalists," meaning the tax bill and other changes he signed into law, then it’s probably too complex for average North Carolinians as well.We journalists are just as average as our fellow Tar Heels, after all.
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
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