North Carolina’s Republican state politicians have been criticized lately for their substantive actions – rejecting an expansion of Medicaid coverage and lopping off unemployment benefits, for instance – and for their diversions into medical marijuana, topless women, opossums and cursive handwriting.
But Gov. Pat McCrory and the General Assembly have seen generally improving ratings, according to a new poll by the free-market Civitas Institute.
The poll showed the state legislature’s image increasing from a 36 percent approval rating in September to a 40 percent approval rating in February.
McCrory’s approval rating increased, too, from 41 percent in January to 46 percent now. But the biggest shift in opinion came in the form of a big jump in the percentage of those who aren’t happy with the job he is doing: 11 percent unfavorable in January and 28 percent now.
Fewer voters are still up in the air about him: 26 percent don’t know or are undecided about the governor, compared with 48 percent in January.
The Civitas Poll of 600 registered voters was taken Feb. 21, 24 and 25 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Voters interviewed had to have cast ballots in at least one of the past two general elections or be newly registered since Nov. 3.
Straight-party voting to end?
Four representatives have filed a bill to eliminate straight-party ticket voting. The legislation, House Bill 185, filed Thursday, would also establish an interesting way of listing candidates on the ballot.
Currently, candidates are simply listed alphabetically within each party.
HB185 would put at the top of the ballot the party of the current governor, followed by the other parties in alphabetical order.
But when there are multiple seats up for election – now pay attention – “the names of the candidates of that party shall appear in alphabetical order by party beginning with the letter of the alphabet that the governor’s last name begins with, then returning to the letter A after the letter Z.”
Sponsors are Republican freshmen Rep. Susan Martin of Wilson, Rep. Debra Conrad of Winston-Salem and Rep. Bob Steinburg of Edenton, and second-term Rep. Bert Jones of Reidsville, also a Republican.
A bill in the Senate by second-term Sen. Buck Newton, a Republican who represents Johnston, Nash and Wilson counties, and Sen. Thom Goolsby, a Republican from Wilmington, simply proposes to do away with straight-party voting.
Senate race getting crowded
The competition among Republicans for the right to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina next year is expected to be lively if not crowded.
Speculation is that state House Speaker Thom Tillis or Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, or both, will lead the field.
But the recent early announcement by Dr. Greg Brannon, a Cary obstetrician, has the state Democratic Party already warning against a primary campaign that will be “a race to the right.”
Brannon advertises himself as “pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax, states’ rights.”
He also claims to be one of the original tea party members, according to a transcript of a radio interview Feb. 26 the Democrats are distributing as proof of the impending “ultra-conservative” battle.
Brannon told eastern Carolina radio host Tom Lamprecht he hoped the primary would be “a battle full of ideas. ... My question is, is it conservative rhetoric? Is conservative just the government doing things for us, but with a different twinge? Or is true conservatism protecting the individual to allow them to live their American dream?”
Brannon kicked off his campaign last week with a tour that began in Wilmington.
McCrory stock info requested
Advocacy group NC Warn took out a full-page ad in The News & Observer on Sunday keeping up the pressure on McCrory to disclose how much stock he owns in Duke Energy, where he used to work, and asking him to appoint an independent panel to choose members of the state Utilities Commission.
Pending legislation would allow McCrory and the General Assembly to replace all current members of the commission, which this year will consider a rate increase request from Duke Energy.
Staff writer Craig Jarvis
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