Under the Dome

Obama campaign busy in North Carolina

August 5, 2008 

Democrat Barack Obama has devoted substantial resources to North Carolina, while Republican John McCain has pretty much sat the state out.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has opened 12 state offices so far and is adding Cary and Chapel Hill today.

According to The New York Times, Obama spent almost $2 million on ads in North Carolina between June 3 and July 26, while McCain has not spent any money.

Obama spokesman Paul Cox said the campaign has had 93 organizational meetings that recruited more than 3,000 volunteers in the state, with many concentrating on registering voters.

The one area in which Obama has not put as much effort is personal visits. He came for a rally June 9 after winning the nomination and had to postpone a visit to Charlotte after plane trouble.

McCain, meanwhile, came for a speech at Wake Forest University and several fundraisers in Charlotte in early May.

Still, Obama is starting to ramp up the visits by surrogates, sending retired Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Lambert to Fayetteville today.

No-shows for the big party

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole is not the only Republican skipping the convention.

At least three other North Carolina politicians won't be heading to St. Paul this year: U.S. Reps. Robin Hayes, Sue Myrick and Howard Coble.

Hayes and Myrick say they are busy, but Coble never attends. "The best explanation -- this may sound strange since I have chosen the political arena as my career -- but I'm more comfortable in the presence of 20 people than I am in the presence of 200 people," he said. "That convention is wall-to-wall people. I could see losing four or five days when I could be at home. My record will remain intact."

Rep. Patrick McHenry says he hasn't decided if he'll attend.

Meantime, Rep. Virginia Foxx and Sen. Richard Burr will be going, while Democratic Rep. Mel Watt intends to head to his party's convention in Denver.

Dole strays from party line

Dole is voting more with the Democrats lately.

The Salisbury Republican has broken with her party more this year than she did in 2007, according to a recent analysis of her voting record by The Hill, a Washington-based political newspaper.

Leaving out missed votes and bills that both parties favored, Dole voted against a majority of her party 25.5 percent of the time this year, versus 6.6 percent in 2007, 6.4 percent in the 2005-06 session and 4.3 percent in the 2003-04 session, according to the paper.

Dole was one of seven Republicans who voted for a climate-change bill, among other things. In an interview with the newspaper, Dole said that she is voting for what's "best for the people of my state," adding she was not moving to the middle because of the coming election.

Democratic opponent Kay Hagan's campaign sent e-mail with a link to the story to reporters.

New lottery game out

State lottery officials promise big prizes with the introduction of a new game this week.

The instant scratch off "$130 Million Blockbuster" offers players more chances at winning a prize than any other N.C. Education Lottery ticket to date. In addition to 10 prizes of $1 million, it also gives players a chance to win $50,000 a year for life.

Odds of winning the $50,000 for life depend on the number of entries received. Odds of winning any prize are 1 in 3.29. Odds of winning $1 million are 1 in 1.7 million.

Lottery officials are shipping the game to retailers and expect to begin selling it today.

The $130 Million Blockbuster is a $10 instant scratch-off ticket. Players who scratch and reveal a "DRAWING" symbol on the ticket can enter one of five preliminary drawings. Two entries will be drawn from each preliminary drawing to be entered into the final grand prize drawing for the $50,000 a year for life.

ryan.teague.beckwith @newsobserver.com or (919) 836-4944

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