Under the Dome

Dome: Political handicapper ranks Hagan seat ‘leans Democrat’

January 26, 2013 

The Rothenberg Political Report ranks U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s seat “leans Democrat” in the first 2014 Senate election ratings. The report – a leading Washington handicapper – says: “Given the GOP’s recent victories in the state, Hagan is almost guaranteed a serious challenge.”

A dozen seats are safe for each party. Of the nine competitive seats, three lean Democrat and one is favored Democrat. Three more tilt Democrat. Republicans are favored in two, but only one seat leans Republican. The Washington Post’s political prognosticators rank the race No. 4 on their list of most competitive Senate seats. The write-up: “A recent poll from Democratic-leaning automated pollster Public Policy Polling shows Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan’s approval rating is underwater, but she nonetheless leads potential GOP competitors. If Republicans can find the right candidate, Hagan will face a tough road to reelection.”

Brooks leaving Council

Bill Brooks, the president and executive director of the N.C. Family Policy Council, is leaving the organization later this year.

Brooks spent 20 years at the nonprofit organization, a leading social conservative voice in state politics, starting as a consultant in 1993 before he was named president in 1994. He took the helm at N.C. Family Action in 2007, the organization’s 501(c)(4) political arm.

In an interview, Brooks said he is leaving of his own accord but doesn’t have a new job lined up. He anticipates leaving sometime after July when a new director takes over. His first order of business is an extended vacation, he said.

Brooks plans to lobby at the legislature this session. He started his lobbying career in 1988 at the organization that is now the N.C. Chamber.

In a statement, N.C. Family Action Chairman Skip Orser said, “I am sorry to see Bill step down as head of these two organizations. I have watched him over the years and have come to appreciate his calm manner and thoughtful approach to public policy. His Christian faith is a large part of who he is and his willingness to give others the credit means that he has been able to accomplish a great deal for the council and for families across our state.”

Mrs. Dollar lands state job

Rep. Nelson Dollar’s wife has just landed a job high up in the state Department of Public Safety. Fortunately, Lorrie L. Dollar’s qualifications extend well beyond her marriage to the Republican budget writer from Cary.

Lorrie Dollar was a chief deputy state auditor, a deputy commissioner with the N.C. Industrial Commission, staff attorney and later chief legal counsel for the state Department of Correction, and a staff attorney for the state Department of Human Resources.

She has been named chief deputy secretary of administration. She replaces Bennie Aiken, who worked extensively on the new merged public safety department. She’s a native of Virginia who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and received a law degree at N.C. Central University.

Palmieri gets promoted

The staff shuffling at the White House has resulted in a promotion for Jennifer Palmieri, known among local politicos for her role in John Edwards’ presidential campaign and her testimony at his trial last year.

Palmieri will become White House communications director, replacing Dan Pfeiffer, who will become a senior adviser, according to The Washington Post. Palmieri has been serving as deputy communications director.

Palmieri, who served in the Bill Clinton White House, was Edwards’ campaign spokeswoman. Last spring, she testified at the trial in which Edwards was charged with breaking campaign-finance laws by using donations to hide his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

Palmieri testified that when the story about Edwards’ affair broke in the National Enquirer, she told him, “If it’s true, don’t think you’re going to survive this.”

It was testimony that bolstered prosecutors’ argument that Edwards built his campaign on his family-man image and that money spent to shield his image was a campaign expense.

Staff writers John Frank, Mary Cornatzer and Craig Jarvis

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