Under the Dome

RGA pulls out most of its remaining advertising in NC

October 23, 2012 

The Republican Governors Association has pulled nearly all its remaining TV advertising in North Carolina, signaling its confidence that Pat McCrory is a lock in the governor’s race.

The D.C.-based group planned to spend nearly $1 million on TV ads attacking Democrat Walter Dalton in the final two weeks of the election. But the RGA cut all spending on broadcast stations starting this week, media buyers reported Monday.

The RGA is still spending roughly $300,000 to air cable TV and radio ads, but the amount is dispersed and essentially negligible. Earlier this month, the national GOP group trimmed its spending, saying it was comfortable with McCrory’s double-digit lead in the polls, but still kept one foot in the race. Now it appears even more confident.

The RGA spent $4.4 million to help boost McCrory this year. “We continue to monitor the race as well as the (Democratic Governors Association’s) spending in North Carolina and adjust accordingly,” said Mike Schrimpf, a spokesman. “Right now, DGA is giving no indication they think Walter Dalton can stage a comeback.”

899 112-year-olds? Not exactly

Since early voting started last week in North Carolina, data from the state Board of Elections shows 899 ballots cast by 112-year-old voters.

A local conservative political blog was the first to suggest that “massive voter fraud” was taking place, and a bandwagon of similar claims followed. The Examiner, a conservative website, posted a story that has been shared by several thousand people on Facebook and Twitter.

State Elections Director Gary Bartlett said the story spread quickly enough on social media that his phone started ringing during church Sunday and hasn’t let up since – and a glance at the widely circulated story shows why:

“Of these voters, over 70 percent were slated as Democrats, with a diminutive 25 percent counted as Republicans. … Obviously there is a problem, one in which voter ID might clearly provide a solution. A thing that only the Democratic Party swears against.”

But Bartlett said the number of centenarian voters is not voter fraud but rather the result of the information that was once collected when people registered to vote.

Bartlett said that until the 1980s, only age was collected when people registered to vote, not necessarily their date of birth, so a default date of Jan. 1, 1900, was used for those who had not provided a birth date.

In 2008, 9,856 votes were cast by people who were “108.” In 2010, 9,194 people who were “110” cast ballots. So far this year, 899 votes have been cast by people age “112.”

“These people have been registered for a long time,” Bartlett said. “Twice now, we’ve cross-checked these people with drivers licenses, but if we can’t find an exact match, we don’t change anything because we don’t want to put out false information.”

While the votes do heavily favor Democrats, that has been the case so far in early voting, whether faux-elderly or any other age.

Overall, 50.8 percent who have voted are registered Democrats, 30.6 percent Republicans, and 18.4 percent unaffiliated. The faux-elderly voting are 70.2 percent Democrats, 25.5 percent Republicans, and 4.3 percent unaffiliated.

McCrory, Duke Energy, stimulus

Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory came under fire Monday for supporting Duke Energy in its successful effort to land $204 million in stimulus money.

The campaign of his Democratic opponent, Walter Dalton, questioned whether it was a conflict of interest for McCrory to lobby the U.S. Energy Department on behalf of his former employer. And it questioned McCrory’s efforts in light of his public criticism of stimulus money.

“At the same time he was criticizing the stimulus in the Wall Street Journal, he was using his mayor’s office to try to get a piece of that funding for Duke Energy, his longtime employer,” said Schorr Johnson, Dalton’s spokesman.

While he was Charlotte mayor in 2009, McCrory wrote Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking for the stimulus money to build an energy Internet project.

“This work leverages and builds upon Duke Energy’s industry leadership in the deployment of smart-grid technologies that maximize energy efficiency, promote resource conservation, and enable customers to make better-informed choices sited to their budget and lifestyle,” McCrory wrote.

But the McCrory campaign said there was no conflict because McCrory was no longer a Duke Energy employee when he wrote the letter. And the campaign said McCrory’s criticism of the stimulus package was specifically aimed at using the money for recurring expenditures, not for infrastructure projects.

“Pat was obviously acting in his capacity as mayor of Charlotte in support of a local company’s project, as he did on many occasions,” said Brian Nick, McCrory’s spokesman. “He criticized Governor Perdue’s use of one-time federal stimulus money for the state because of the potential to create a long-term fiscal crisis, which it did.”

Staff writers John Frank, Austin Baird and Rob Christensen

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