Under the Dome

Dome: State Republicans hire communications boss

August 5, 2011 

The N.C. Republican Party has hired a Washington hand with national TV experience to be its spokesman during the 2012 elections.

The hiring of Rob Lockwood as the state GOP's communications director suggests the importance the national party is placing on this state as it tries to win back North Carolina in the presidential race, capture the governor's office and pick up four congressional seats.

Lockwood was deputy executive director and communications director for the College Republican National Committee. In that job, he appeared last year on CNN and on Fox News arguing why young voters were turning away from President Barack Obama.

Lockwood, a native of Massachusetts, is an alumnus of St. Johns Prep and George Washington University. He interned with the Republican National Committee, Americans for Limited Government and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

State rep, U.S. money

Even as Rep. Stephen LaRoque preaches the virtues of limited government on the campaign trail, he is well paid for running two public charities funded with $8 million in federal dollars, according to a two-month investigation by N.C. Policy Watch.

The group found that LaRoque earned up to $195,000 a year heading two small economic development organizations - the East Carolina Development Co. and the Piedmont Development Co. - and used the nonprofits to lend some of the public funds to his close associates and political allies.

LaRoque, a Kinston Republican who is in the House leadership, repeatedly declined to comment to Policy Watch, a progressive advocacy group based in Raleigh.

The story was written by Sarah Ovaska, a former reporter for The News & Observer. Read the full report online at www .ncpolicywatch .com .

Frye won't run again

State Rep. Phillip Frye of Spruce Pine has announced he will not seek another term.

Frye had been drawn into the same House district as fellow Republican Mitch Gillespie under the redistricting plan the legislature passed last week. The new district includes McDowell, Mitchell and Avery counties.

"It has been my distinct honor and privilege to represent District 84 in the General Assembly for the last five terms," Frye told The McDowell News. "As we went into the 10-year redistricting process, I stated my desire to keep a strong district for my counties. As the process began to develop, it was clear the three counties of Avery, Mitchell and McDowell Counties would make up an ideal district."

Frye now represents a district comprising Avery, Mitchell, Yancey and Caldwell counties.

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

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