Most legislative staffers' jobs safe, Tillis says

December 28, 2010 

Incoming House Speaker Thom Tillis said last week that most rank-and-file legislative staffers shouldn't worry about losing their jobs next month when the Republicans take control of the General Assembly.

" In my four years here, most of the staff have done a good job of being nonpartisan," Tillis, who is from Cornelius, told Dome. "We don't have any plans to make significant changes."

Tillis said legislative offices such as fiscal research, bill drafting and legal should all be spared major turnover, though changes may take place over time through attrition.

Clearly, however, some staffers are partisan appointees in positions that are patronage plums, such as in the sergeant-at-arms office.

"I'd imagine most of those folks are already looking for other jobs," Tillis said.

Poll favors McCrory

Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory has a commanding lead over Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue in a new poll.

If a rematch of their 2008 race were held today, McCrory would defeat Perdue by 51 percent to 36 percent, according to a survey commissioned by The Civitas Institute, a Raleigh-based conservative think tank. Twelve percent said they were undecided.

McCrory's lead has expanded since a June Civitas poll that showed Perdue leading by 46 percent to 37 percent.

Perdue defeated McCrory by 50 percent to 47 percent in 2008 - the closest governor's race in the nation that year.

The spin: "Support for Perdue is low as voters see job creation and economic recovery remaining flat," said Francis De Luca, the institute's president. "Despite press releases heralding new jobs and incentive giveaways, voters are not seeing improvement in the employment picture."

The survey of 600 registered North Carolina voters was conducted Dec. 15 to 16 by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Burr puzzles magazine

How surprising was U.S. Sen. Richard Burr's vote to repeal "don't ask, don't tell"? So surprising that the National Review ran an entire article about the subject online.

The article acknowledged Burr's own explanation - "This is a policy that is generationally right" - but couldn't help speculating on other motives. But unlike one blogger who suggested that Burr, long considered a moderate conservative, was actually a "covert social liberal," the National Review suggested it may have something to do with the state's changing electorate:

"It's no secret that North Carolina is no longer the reliable red state that elected Jesse Helms to five Senate terms. Barack Obama won the state in 2008, the first Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter to do so, and in the process propelled Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) to an easy victory over Elizabeth Dole. Burr would almost certainly have met the same fate.

"Driven by a rapidly growing minority population, and an influx of New England transplants to the metropolitanareas of Raleigh/Durham and Charlotte - currently a leading contender to host the 2012 Democratic convention - the Tar Heel State has become increasingly liberal over the last decade. If, as polls indicate, more than two-thirds of Americans favor repeal [of "don't ask, don't tell"], most North Carolinians probably do as well."

In the end, reporter Andrew Stiles concluded, "Maybe Burr just wanted to be ahead of the curve. Maybe he simply knows how to read polling data. Or maybe he really meant what he said in his statement, that repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' was 'the right thing to do' - is that so hard to believe?"

Contributions by Michael Biesecker, Rob Christensen and Mary Cornatzer

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

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