Under the Dome

McCrory eager to face Perdue - if he runs

November 11, 2010 

Pat McCrory says he hasn't decided yet whether he will seek the GOP nomination for governor in 2012, but he made clear Wednesday that he'd relish another shot at Bev Perdue.

A spokesman for the Democratic governor said Tuesday that she has "every intention" of standing for re-election in two years. That left some Republicans licking their chops at the thought of challenging her.

Recent polls peg Perdue's approval rating in the low-30s, her 2008 campaign is under a state criminal investigation, and her party just lost control of both chambers of the state legislature for the first time in more than a century.

"If I decide to run, I'd very much like to run against her," said McCrory, the former Charlotte mayor. "She's going to have a very interesting record to run on and have to defend based upon the campaign promises she made in 2008."

McCrory, who is now working at a law firm and doing consulting work, said he is keeping in touch with the people who helped with his '08 campaign, when he narrowly lost to Perdue by 3.4 percentage points.

"What I've done during the last year is take all the necessary steps to allow me to make a decision whether to run or not sometime next year," he said.

Ellmers gets oriented

The final vote count in the 2nd Congressional District remains uncertain, but Republican Renee Ellmers has an invitation to the freshman orientation next week in Washington.

At the weeklong orientation for new House of Representatives members, Ellmers and the rest of the 2011 class will learn about hiring staff, managing a congressional office budget, and how to follow the committee process and the rules of the House floor.

There also are dinners with party leaders, meetings for congressional spouses and an official class photograph, scheduled for Tuesday morning on the U.S. Capitol steps.

Ellmers will be the only potential member from North Carolina attending.

Unofficial results have her slightly ahead of incumbent U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, a Democrat. Once the vote count becomes official Friday, Etheridge will have the chance to seek a recount if he's within 1 percent - which appears likely.

House Administrative Committee spokesman Kyle Anderson said it's not unusual for new members to attend orientation before it's even certain they've been elected.

The only snag for Ellmers would be next Friday, Nov. 19, during the office lottery. If Ellmers is the certified winner, she gets to draw a number to choose where her office will be. If not, then a House official will draw on her behalf.

Pope has no pick for speaker

Raleigh businessman and former House member Art Pope won't say publicly who he thinks would make the best state House speaker.

Pope says he's not making calls for Rep. Paul Stam, a fellow Wake County resident, minority leader and speaker candidate. But friends in the legislature do call him, Pope said, and they have private conversations about goings-on.

"I'm not taking any public position on anyone to have as speaker," he said. "He [Stam] would make an excellent speaker. There are other good candidates."

Rep. Thom Tillis of Mecklenburg County also wants the job.

Groups tied to Pope spent more than $2 million to influence legislative races this year.

In the other chamber, an internal leadership race took a turn when Senate leader Marc Basnight, who will lose his pro tem job in January, told The Associated Press he has shifted his support for minority leader from Sen. Martin Nesbitt of Asheville to Sen. Linda Garrou of Winston-Salem.

Nesbitt has been majority leader for nearly a year. Garrou is a longtime chief budget writer. Senate Republicans appear to have settled on Phil Berger of Eden as the next Senate leader to succeed Basnight. Republicans will meet in Raleigh next week to make their tentative selections.

By staff writers Michael Biesecker, Barbara Barrett and Lynn Bonner

michael.biesecker@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4698

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