Dome: Could Sweet Baby James become a US Senator?

Staff writersJanuary 22, 2013 

Chapel Hill’s James Taylor, who sang “America the Beautiful,” at Monday’s inaugural, has been getting some urging to run for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts.

A public radio broadcaster is encouraging Taylor to enter the race for John Kerry’s seat. Kerry is on track to be President Obama’s new secretary of state.

“JT, who famously followed that road ‘from Stockbridge to Boston,’ is as much of a hero to the people of the Bay State as General Henry Knox was,” wrote Alan Chartock, president of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio.

He argues that Taylor would have a better chance of defeating likely Republican candidate Scott Brown than Democrat Ed Markey, the dean of the Massachusetts delegation. He is not the first celebrity name to be floated for the seat. Actor Ben Affleck’s named also has been mentioned.

There is no indication that Taylor, who campaigned extensively for Obama, and who played at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in September, is actually interested in running for the Senate.

Hagan targeted over Hagel

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is the target of a new TV ad campaign from an outside group seeking to block President Barack Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary.

The 30-second spot from Americans for a Strong Defense is targeting senators in five states, hoping to create political pressure on lawmakers to reject the former Nebraska senator at his forthcoming confirmation hearing.

Hagan is not a coincidental target. The Greensboro Democrat is running for re-election in 2014 and represents a state with a major military presence.

“We live in a dangerous world,” an ominous announcer begins in the ad. “But Barack Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense wants America to back down.”

The kicker: “Call Kay Hagan and tell her to say no to Chuck Hagel – before it’s too late.” The phone number for Hagan’s Triad office appears on the screen.

The new group behind the ad – a nonprofit that doesn’t disclose its donors – is part of a well-funded effort to block Hagel’s nomination. It includes a number of major GOP strategists, including a few Mitt Romney campaign staffers.

A spokesman for the group declined to put a dollar figure on the ad buy or say where it was running. But the group said it would appear on broadcast and cable stations.

Note to gov.: Expand Medicaid

Seventy-three groups, from AARP North Carolina to YWCA Central Carolinas, sent a note to Gov. Pat McCrory asking him to expand Medicaid as allowed under the federal health care law.

About 500,000 people would be added to the Medicaid rolls, with the federal government paying all the costs for almost all the new people for the first three years. About 1.5 million North Carolinians are enrolled in Medicaid now, with the state and federal governments sharing the costs.

Lots of health associations are among the letter’s endorsers, including the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.

Community health centers and clinics signed the note, but hospitals, which would lose big if the state does not expand Medicaid, aren’t that well represented. Duke University Health Systems signed on, but not UNC Health Care or WakeMed.

Price keeps homeland gig

Rep. David Price of Chapel Hill will remain the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, he announced Tuesday. It is the same position he held in the last Congress.

The committee, which is chaired by Republican John Carter of Texas, is responsible for funding the Department of Homeland Security and related agencies.

Price said the committee’s main task is handling budget requests for the department to keep America safe from “emerging threats.”

But he also believes the committee can help in “shaping immigration enforcement policy.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Kay Hagan announced she was named co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.

Hagan will co-chair the committee with Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. Hagan had previously been vice chair of the group that has 300 members.

“North Carolina is among the best places to hunt and fish in the country and I’m honored to continue to protect our rich outdoor heritage as co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus,” Hagan said in a statement.

“I grew up in a family of lifelong hunters, and some of my favorite activities are hiking and fishing with my family across our state,” Hagan wrote.

Her announcement comes as gun enthusiasts are leaning on her to take a more definitive position on gun control.

Staff writers Rob Christensen, John Frank and Lynn Bonner

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