McCrory lines up help for possible run

March 15, 2011 

As he explores a potential gubernatorial bid next year, former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory has put together a team of advisers to help.

They include Jack Hawke, the former state party chairman, who managed McCrory's 2008 campaign for governor. It also includes Jonathan Brooks, an Eastern North Carolina political consultant who worked for the Senate campaigns of Richard Burr and Elizabeth Dole, and for U.S. Rep. Walter Jones; and Brian Nick, a former top Dole aide.

Only Brooks is under contract right now, with Hawke and Nick volunteering their time, McCrory said. McCrory said he has not hired any major media consultants or pollsters.

Although McCrory has not announced his candidacy, he is traveling extensively across the state and is widely expected to seek a rematch with Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.

Housing crisis worries Miller

Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Miller has written a letter to federal housing officials demanding stronger actions in the housing foreclosure crisis.

In a letter co-signed by 50 House members, Miller has asked the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency for a strengthened response to slow the crisis.

"Foreclosures result in the decline in home values, the decline in home values results in more homeowners being 'under-water,' and an increase in under-water homeowners results in more foreclosures, all resulting in more losses by the enterprises and taxpayers," Miller writes.

Miller contends that the conduct of the FHFA in servicing mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is deepening taxpayer losses. Miller is urging the agency to pursue sustainable modification of mortgages.

Tourism spending up

The North Carolina tourism industry saw its fortunes rise last year.

Visitors to the state spent $17 billion in 2010, up 9 percent from 2009, according to a release from the governor's office.

The data, which place North Carolina as the sixth most visited state in the nation, were released as state tourism officials met at the annual N.C. Governor's Conference on Tourism and Hospitality in Asheville.

"North Carolina's natural and cultural treasures bring people and dollars into our state," Gov. Bev Perdue said during remarks at the conference. "It's a consistently growing part of our economy."

And as the state's self-proclaimed jobs governor, Perdue also pointed out that visitor spending helps create jobs.

More than 40,000 businesses in North Carolina directly provide products and services to tourists, who spend more than $46.6 million a day here. For state and local tax revenues, that adds up to nearly $4.1 million a day, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

So how do the numbers break down?

Total visitor spending was $17 billion, compared to $15.6 billion in 2009.

36.8 million people visited the state, a 2.5 percent increase over 2009.

Visitors generated more than $1.5 billion in state and local tax revenues.

Travel and tourism directly employ 185,000 people in the state.

Compiled by staff writers Rob Christensen and Mary Cornatzer

rob.christensen@newobserver.com or 919-829-4532.

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