Dome: Legislators' low approval rating won't matter much at polls

FROM STAFF REPORTSOctober 3, 2012 

If legislators had not drawn lines to put themselves in bulletproof districts, they could be in big trouble in November.

The legislature has an approval rating of only 16 percent, with 54 percent of those polled voicing disapproval and 30 percent not sure, according to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm based in Raleigh.

It doesn’t matter much if the lawmakers are Republicans or Democrats. The favorable rating for Republican legislators is 33 percent, with 47 percent unfavorable and 20 percent uncertain. The favorable rating for Democrats is 35 percent, with 45 percent unfavorable with 20 percent uncertain.

If the election were held today, 46 percent would vote Democratic and 44 percent would vote Republican; 10 percent are not sure.

The polling firm notes this is a huge shift from 2010, when Republicans took control of the legislature and GOP candidates had an 11-point advantage. But pollster Tom Jensen notes that with Republicans having drawn more GOP-favorable district lines, the change in voter opinion “probably translates to (Democrats) winning back a handful of seats.” The survey of 981 likely North Carolina voters was conducted Sept. 27-30 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

Goodnights hold Berger bash

State Senate leader Phil Berger pulled in more than $300,000 at a fundraiser at the Cary home of Jim and Ann Goodnight of SAS on Tuesday, the state Senate Republican caucus reports.

Berger, a Republican from Eden, had received close to $1 million in contributions at the end of June, the latest reporting period. A little more than a third of that amount came from political action committees.

Berger doesn’t exactly need the money to retain his seat. He’s running against a weak opponent: retired farmer and rancher Bobby R. Stanley from Stoneville, who was a Rockingham County commissioner. But Berger is in a position to share the wealth with other Republican candidates.

The Goodnights have long contributed to various political campaigns. Earlier this year, they hosted a fundraiser for Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton’s gubernatorial campaign.

Wilkins wants to debate Ellmers

Democratic challenger Steve Wilkins is calling on Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers to debate – but so far she is refusing. Wilkins said that Ellmers, who represents the 2nd District, has turned down an offer to debate on WTVD in Raleigh.

Ellmers’ campaign spokeswoman Jessica Wood said the two candidates will appear on WRAL-TV; the station says it is an interview.

Wilkins, who served 22 years in the Army and is a veteran of the war in Iraq, works for Boeing and lives in Moore County.

He mocked Ellmers’ recent fundraising message asking for donations to reach her newly drawn district. “If Congresswoman Ellmers wants to introduce herself to the voters, she should debate,” Wilkins said in a statement. “Unfortunately, she can’t defend her record as being part of a failed Congress that has passed the buck on virtually every important piece of legislation… .”

Campaign goes to ‘Judge Judy’

Candidates are lining up their TV advertising for the final weeks leading up to election day Nov. 6. One caught Dome’s eye for its interesting juxtaposition of the highbrow and the lowbrow.

State Supreme Court candidate Sam Ervin IV, currently an appellate court judge, has tentatively lined up 26 spots on “Judge Judy,” the daytime TV reality show on WNCN-TV. Perhaps the high-rated small-claims court series will draw fans of legal procedure to the voting booths.

His campaign is spending close to $3,000 for ads starting Monday. Ervin is running against Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby.

Staff writers Rob Christensen and Craig Jarvis

Send tips: dome@newsobserver.com

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