Merritt looking to 2004

Staff WriterApril 2, 2003 

Republican Les Merritt, who lost to Democratic State Auditor Ralph Campbell in 2000 by half a percentage point, wants a rematch next year.

"We came very close in 2000," Merritt said. "With the current budget crisis, we need a proactive state auditor who will aggressively seek out wasteful spending."

Merritt, a Zebulon CPA, said that if elected, he would move beyond standard audits and work to reduce the costs of services and possibly consolidate state agencies.

Merritt served on the Wake County Board of Commissioners from 1994 to 1998. He won the Republican primary in 2000 by defeating attorney Jack Daly.

Burr on money trail

U.S. Rep. Richard Burr will hold his first big Washington fund-raiser later this month as part of his bid for the Senate seat now held by Democrat John Edwards.

The $1,000-per-person event will be held April 29 in the Pennsylvania Avenue offices of powerhouse Washington lobbying firm Barbour, Griffith & Rogers. The event is expected to raise more than $100,000 for Burr, according to Marc Rotterman, the GOP consultant who is organizing the event.

If there were any doubts about Burr having the backing of the Republican establishment, this fund-raiser might put them to rest.

Sen. George Allen of Virginia, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, will be the main speaker.

Among those on the host committee are U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and all six Republican House members from North Carolina. Also sponsoring the event are Bob Ingram, GlaxoSmithKline executive from Durham, and Rep. Billy Tauzin of Louisiana, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Supporting the troops

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, whose congressional district includes Camp Lejeune, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and other military bases, has been busy on the legislative front showing support for the troops.

Jones has sponsored a bill that would help survivors of those killed in combat. Survivors get a $6,000 benefit, but Jones said federal taxes take half of it. Jones' bill would make the $6,000 tax-free.

The measure passed the House and Senate and must now go to a conference committee.

Jones also fired off a letter to the Pitt County school system complaining about a decision to remove a "God Bless America" sign from a bulletin board at Wahl-Coates Elementary School.

Camping for money

Hoping to highlight the lack of funding for mental health, an alliance of groups plans to rally this month at the Legislative Building.

The demonstration April 24 is expected to include 158 pup tents pitched outside the Legislative Building to symbolize the 158 beds that are scheduled to be closed at Dorothea Dix Hospital.

Staff writer Rob Christensen can be reached at 829-4532 or robc@newsobserver.com.

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