Under the Dome

Dome: Legislature reconvenes Nov. 7; why is unclear

October 27, 2011 

The legislature reconvenes Nov. 7 - but apparently few if any lawmakers know what they will do.

Conversations with a number of top Republican and Democratic lawmakers suggest the answer is nothing. A skeleton crew may gavel the special session to order and quickly adjourn again for another date this year, possibly after Thanksgiving.

The GOP leadership is keeping the door open to handle any redistricting issues once the federal government finishes its review of the plan submitted this summer. But with no word likely before Nov. 7, there's not much to do.

Other talk suggests lawmakers may consider more "technical correction" bills to tweak any unintended consequences from the session earlier this year, but nothing specific has been mentioned yet.

This never-ending session is not unprecedented - it occurred the last time redistricting was on the table. But it certainly leaves the door open, and special interests are still working lawmakers to get their issues on an agenda.

An elections oversight committee met Wednesday, and Rep. David Lewis, a co-chairman, said the committee will need to approve a bill before 2012 to fix election laws.

GOP to get new 'quarterback'

Scott Laster, the lead strategist in the Republicans winning the state House last November, is expected to be the state GOP's new executive director.

State Republican Chairman Robin Hayes is recommending Laster for the post, pending approval of the state GOP Central Committee, which will meet Nov. 19.

Laster is a political veteran who was House campaign director for the N.C. Republican Party last year when the GOP captured the House for the first time since 1994. He will be in charge of day-to-day party operations during the critical 2012 presidential, gubernatorial, congressional and legislative elections.

"He will be my chief of staff," Hayes said. "He will be my quarterback.''

McCrory continues his dance

Republican Pat McCrory is apparently amplifying his efforts to criticize Gov. Bev Perdue's leadership as he continues his candidate-but-not-a-candidate dance.

In an interview with editors and reporters at the Salisbury Post, McCrory highlighted the contradiction behind his rationale not to formally declare his bid, saying he first needs to campaign for more money and support, at the same time calling the campaign cycle too long and expensive.

"I wanted to ensure that I have both public and financial support before I officially announce," he told the paper. "Also, I think the full-time campaign season is far too long and far too expensive. ... And I think people are tired of politicians' long campaign cycles."

As for his agenda, McCrory aligned himself with the GOP legislative leadership and attacked Perdue's vetoes of a voter identification bill, among others.

As Perdue continues to focus on education as a link to economic development - likely her main campaign talking point - McCrory is beginning to counter by saying that the state's academic goals need to be tied to job needs in North Carolina.

Perdue, Obama rise in polls

North Carolina voters remain divided about the job performance of Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, according to a new poll.

Forty-six percent of the voters both approve and disapprove of the job she is doing as governor, according to a new survey conducted for the Civitas Institute, a conservative advocacy group based in Raleigh. Seven percent said they were undecided or did not know.

That is up slightly from a Civitas Poll conducted in September, which showed Perdue with a 42 percent approval rating and a 48 percent disapproval rating.

"Governor Perdue got her best numbers in a while in this poll, something she is probably happy to see," said Francis DeLuca, the group's president.

President Barack Obama's approval rating increased from the previous month. His rating is now 46 percent, while 50 percent disapprove of the job he is doing, according to the poll. In the Triangle, 61 percent of voters approve of his job performance, while the president has a disapproval rating of 54 percent among those 18-25 and 41-55.

Staff writers John Frank and Rob Christensen

john.frank@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4698

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