Under the Dome

Dome: GOP controls Basnight's old Senate seat

From staff reportsDecember 3, 2012 

Republicans now control the seat once held by Marc Basnight.

After two rounds of recounts and a limited hand-to-eye recount, state Sen. Stan White, the Democrat incumbent in the 1st District, conceded the race to Republican Bill Cook.

“Mr. Cook has won, and I wish him the best of luck and certainly hope he represents this huge district well in the next term,” White said when reached by phone for comment.

Cook won the election by 21 votes; 87,449 ballots were cast in the eight-county area.

White had asked for a recount after only 32 votes separated the two men on Election Day. The machine recount narrowed Cook’s victory to 21 votes, so White asked for the hand-to-eye count.

For hand-to-eye recounts, election board officials first look at a sample of ballots by hand to determine whether there are enough discrepancies to review all ballots by hand, a costlier option both in time and money.

When the sample indicated no change, White decided to quit pushing.

“Certainly some folks wanted me to take some other avenues,” he said. “I don’t know of another step to take unless it’s a lawsuit challenge, and I’m not putting my family and the public through that.”

White was appointed to represent the 1st District after Basnight announced his retirement in 2011, right before the start of what would have been his 14th term.

Jones pushed off committee

Rep. Walter Jones, a Republican from Farmville, was kicked off the House’s financial services committee on Monday, according to Roll Call.

Speaker John Boehner initiated the action, targeting what Roll Call labeled “rebellious Republicans.” RollCall writes:

“The decisions were made by the GOP Steering Committee at a Monday meeting, which reviewed a spreadsheet listing each GOP lawmaker and how often he or she had voted with leadership, three sources said. ... All of the lawmakers other than Jones were rebellious rightwingers.”

Jones was recently re-elected in the 3rd District, which stretches from Currituck to Onslow County and includes Camp Lejeune, and he will start his 10th term in January. He is also a member of the House Committee on Armed Services and has been an outspoken critic of the country’s war with Iraq and Afghanistan.

Helms proposal draws critics

The pushback against a bill that would name a downtown Raleigh building in honor of Sen. Jesse Helms is taking form.

Rep. Renee Ellmers introduced a bill last week that would name the historic Century Post Office the Jesse Helms Federal Building and United States Courthouse.

Ellmers, a Republican, said in a statement that the bill would ensure the staunchly conservative Helms’ memory lives on among North Carolinians so that “future generations ... learn about the important work he accomplished for our state.”

BlueNC, one of the groups none too pleased with Helms’ accomplishments during his 30 years in the U.S. Senate, has organized a petition voicing opposition to the bill.

The petition calls it “morally wrong to reward intolerance” and notes that Helms opposed civil rights and voting rights. More than 3,200 people have signed on.

Democrats focus on message

When the state Senate Democratic Caucus meets in mid-December to select the minority leader – a position held last session by Sen. Martin Nesbitt Jr. – members insist that the decision will not be contentious and that talks will be more centered on the best strategy for working with the Republican majorities that are all around.

“The fact of the matter is, there’s a small enough number of us that everyone in the caucus is going to have their voice heard,” Sen. Dan Blue said. “Nobody has called around to indicate any change or specific candidates.”

Blue said he and his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, like those in the House, are focused on figuring out how to offer cohesive and effective messages whatever approach the Republicans take when session starts in January.

Sen. Floyd McKissick said life will be easier if Republicans tilt too far to the right.

“If they give into some of the more extreme views, messaging will become a lot easier for us,” he said.

Staff writer Austin Baird and Mary Cornatzer

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