Under the Dome

Dome: Trial lawyers target conservative Democrat for drug vote

STAFF WRITERSMarch 19, 2012 

The state’s trial lawyers are buying a TV ad critical of Rep. William Brisson’s support of a bill last year that would have given broad protection to pharmaceutical companies against product liability lawsuits.

Brisson, who represents Bladen and Cumberland counties, is one of five conservative Democrats who bucked their party on a number of issues last year. Brisson was one of the primary sponsors of the drug-maker protection bill, although that provision was eventually stripped from the bill.

A Senate judiciary subcommittee is considering resurrecting that protection.

The TV ad by N.C. Advocates for Justice singles out Brisson:

“Should politicians give pharmaceutical corporations immunity when they sell harmful drugs? Representative William Brisson says yes. He took political contributions from pharmaceutical corporations and voted to give those corporations immunity. Immunity from personal responsibility. That’s wrong. Everybody should be accountable for their actions.”

Of course, the trial lawyers know pharmaceutical companies aren’t giving money directly to Brisson, because that would be illegal.

Brisson has received pharmaceutical PAC money, though, about $2,750.

Brisson has a Democratic challenger in the primary, but none in the general election.

Unions plan summit

Union leaders upset that this summer’s Democratic National Convention will be held in right-to-work North Carolina plan to stage their own political gathering in a more union-friendly state, The Associated Press reports.

Labor officials say the idea of holding a separate “labor summit” a few weeks ahead of the convention won wide support last week at the AFL-CIO’s annual winter meeting.

Most unions are still planning to attend the Charlotte convention, but more than a dozen trade unions are boycotting. They’re angry that Charlotte has no union hotels and North Carolina is the least unionized state in the nation.

Some labor leaders consider the choice an affront to a core Democratic constituency.

Ed Hill, president of the Electrical Workers union, said members of Congress, governors and other elected officials would all be invited to attend the labor summit in a union-friendly city, possibly Philadelphia.

The gathering would be held three or four weeks before the Democratic National Convention, which is set to begin Sept. 3.

“We’re going to talk about labor issues and how we can get our friends in the political arena to talk about labor issues,” Hill told the AP.

Hill said unions still strongly support President Barack Obama and don’t intend their summit to upstage his nominating convention.

Hill’s union is among those not going to North Carolina convention.

Gov. candidates asked to quit

An unknown candidate for governor is asking all the other candidates to drop out of the race and save time.

“I think that I’m better qualified,” said Gary Dunn, a Matthews resident and 58-year-old UNC-Charlotte student. “I didn’t think it would be a fair fight so I asked them to drop out. It may be bold, but that’s how I feel.”

Dunn, who filed to run for governor as a Republican in 1992 but didn’t campaign, was expected to launch his new effort Saturday at a state party fundraiser.

In an interview Friday, Dunn said he sent an email to all campaigns last week asking them to leave the race.

“My name is Gary Dunn. I am the candidate of the people and for the people. I’d like to invite you to take this opportunity to drop out of the race and allow the voice of the people to be heard!” the message reads, according to a copy sent to Dome.

State Rep. Bill Faison’s campaign received it.

But aides to Republican Pat McCrory and Democrat Bob Etheridge said they never saw it.

Faison responded Thursday night with this: “Hi Gary, That won’t be possible for me and my campaign because I have spent my life fighting for people and am in this race to ensure that the people of our State have a voice. Best wishes, Bill.”

Dunn said he also sent Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue a letter asking for her recognition and potential support.

cjarvis@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4576

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