Under the Dome

Dome: Gingrich working on GOP strategy overhaul

January 12, 2013 

With the Republican National Committee scheduled to meet in Charlotte later this month, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has prepared a tough memo that calls on the GOP to take a hard look at its strategy and operations.

Gingrich, a former presidential candidate, writes that the party must begin “a deep, bold, thorough, and lengthy process of rethinking.’’

“I was so shaken by how wrong I was in projecting a Republican win on election night that I have personally set aside time at Gingrich Productions to spend the next six months with our team methodically examining where we are and what we must do,” Gingrich wrote in a recent letter to RNC chairman Reince Priebus.

The RNC is scheduled to holds it winter meeting the Westin in Charlotte from Jan. 23 to 26.

Gingrich said the party must closely scrutinize the Democratic playbook from its ability to build coalitions, to its micro-targeting, to its ability to reach urban voters, to its greater Internet savvy, to its better ability to connect with Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans and African Americans, to better polling, to an ability to reach voters through infotainment.

Rouzer eyeing ’14 rematch

The 2014 talk is starting, and it’s not just focused on which Republican will challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.

Republican David Rouzer is looking at another run at U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre’s seat in the 7th Congressional District. Rouzer lost by 650 votes in a prolonged recount in November, the closest race in the nation. McIntyre was the only Democrat to win a highly contested seat that received national attention.

Rouzer, a former state senator who attended the first day of the legislative session Wednesday, confirmed he is considering another bid. And if he does, he plans to start in February – and run a nearly two-year campaign. He says his late start in the 2012 elections cost him.

“I’m still evaluating my options,” he said.

By his math, Rouzer said he needed Romney to carry the state by another percentage point or two to best McIntyre. And he expects better changes in the midterm elections.

Hyde court battle intensifies

Environmentalists have won a round in an ongoing dispute between a massive egg farm neighboring a national wildlife refuge in northeastern North Carolina.

A Hyde County Superior Court judge has ruled that the state has the authority to regulate airborne emissions under federal clean-water law – even though Republican lawmakers tried to protect the egg company from that regulation through legislation passed last year.

Judge Wayland J. Sermons Jr. ruled earlier this month an administrative law judge must hold a hearing on whether the airborne emissions from a ventilation system at Rose Acre Farms polluted nearby waterways. The judge also ruled that there were significantly higher levels of fecal coliform, ammonia nitrogen, inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus recorded in those streams since the egg farm opened.

The farm holds more than 3 million hens in 12 high-rise henhouses near the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. It received a permit to operate in 2004 under the federal water law. The state renewed its permit in 2010 but, because of the nearby water pollution, required the company to investigate if emissions were settling into streams.

The company objected, saying the state didn’t have the authority to regulate air emissions under the water law. An administrative law judge agreed, but the state Environmental Management Commission reversed that ruling.

The company filed suit to stop that from happening and was joined by the N.C. Poultry Federation. Three environmental groups also intervened in the lawsuit in support of the state: the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation, Waterkeeper Alliance and Friends of Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge Inc. Last year, the Republican majority in the General Assembly tried to plug what it saw as a gap in the law by passing legislation saying an airborne emission could not be considered a water discharge.

The new law was part of a wide-ranging package easing environmental restrictions. But the Hyde County judge ruled that the new law doesn’t automatically mean the lawsuit has to be dismissed because an administrative law judge must first hold a hearing to determine whether the egg farm is discharging air contaminants or something else.

First law: Lobbyist ‘cooling off’

You might have missed the very first vote of the new General Assembly this week.

On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution establishing rules for the session, including banning lobbyists from rushing onto the floor after the end of each day’s session.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Republican from Hendersonville, said it was a 15-minute “cooling off” period, during which lobbyists will not be allowed. Lobbyists can continue to stake out lawmakers outside the chambers, and catch them as they retreat to their offices or as they arrive.

Staff writers Rob Christensen, John Frank and Craig Jarvis

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