Under the Dome

Dome: Fundraiser focuses on pro-choice female Democrats

STAFF WRITEROctober 14, 2011 

Lillian's List of North Carolina raised $80,000 at a lunch Thursday in Raleigh to help elect pro-choice Democratic women.

About 500 people, mainly women, attended the event at the Raleigh Marriott City Center which featured Donna Brazile, the vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and a party strategist and TV commentator.

"The Republicans are focused on mean-spirited attitudes that take us back on things that we thought were already settled," Brazile told the crowd. "We need champions of freedom, champions of equality.

"Democratic women are the ones who will stand up to the reckless agenda that the right-wing has set upon. Democratic women will be our firewall in 2012."

Among those in the audience were 17 female Democratic legislators. Lillian's List has traditionally focused on electing women to the state legislature. But this year, for the first time, it also endorsed women for statewide office.

Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue briefly spoke to the group, urging them to elect more Democratic lawmakers.

"I need you there to help sustain all those vetoes I will continue to make," Perdue said drawing cheers.

Perhaps the loudest cheers of the meal came when the group's chairwoman, Rachel Hunt Nilender, daughter of former Gov. Jim Hunt, mentioned the victories by Democrats in the Wake County school board elections Tuesday.

Among those in the audience were Hunt and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine.

Kaine, who stepped down as Democratic National Committee chairman earlier this year, was in town for a fundraiser at the Raleigh home of Nina Szlosberg-Landis, a member of the state Board of Transportation. Kaine is running for U.S. Senate in Virginia.

Fred Smith sizing up state Senate run

Word on the street is that former Republican gubernatorial candidate Fred Smith plans to run for the state Senate next year.

Smith, a builder and a former state senator from Clayton, plans to announce in the next couple of weeks for Senate District 11, now represented by Republican incumbent E.S. "Buck" Newton of Wilson. That would likely set up a GOP primary.

Smith served three terms in the state Senate before seeking the GOP nomination for governor in 2008, losing to Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory.

Smith, 69, is president of the Fred Smith Co.

Hudson adds name to 8th District race

Richard Hudson, who for years was a back-shop guy in Tar Heel Republican politics, plans to seek the GOP nomination for the 8th congressional district.

Hudson, 39, served as campaign manager for McCrory's 2008 gubernatorial campaign and district director for U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes and chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx. Until recently, he was chief of staff for Texas congressman Mike Conaway.

Hudson also had been helping McCrory get his gubernatorial campaign under way. Word is he got a wink and a nod from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

His campaign will be handled by Dee Stewart, a veteran Republican consultant in Raleigh.

Hudson enters a crowded field that includes Scott Keadle, an Iredell County commissioner; Dan Barry, mayor pro tem of Weddington; and Vernon Robinson, a former Winston-Salem councilman.

Other Republicans also are looking at the seat now held by Democrat Larry Kissell of Montgomery County, whose district has been weakened by redistricting.

rchristensen@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4532

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