Under the Dome

Dome: NC House nonprofit launches website, ads

Staff writersMarch 12, 2013 

A group formed by the N.C. House Republican caucus has begun airing TV ads encouraging Tar Heel citizens to take an online survey reflecting their priorities for the state.

The ad features House Speaker Thom Tillis talking about the importance of small business and the need to set policies that help small businesses prosper.

“Today, more than any time before in our history, it is important for all governing bodies to have the ability to communicate directly with the people,” said Danny McComas, who is chairing the group, called North House Legislative Partners. McComas, a Wilmington Republican who resigned from the legislature last year, is now chairman of the N.C. State Ports Authority Board.

He said the group plans to focus its message outside Raleigh.

To help it do so, it also has launched a website, nchouselegislativepartners.com. The site will offer public opinion polls, petitions, news updates and accept donations.

The group is a nonprofit structured as a 501(c) 4. Unlike individual campaign accounts, it can raise money from special-interest groups while the legislature is in session. It is not required to disclose its donors. Also, there are no limits on the amounts that donors can give, unlike normal political contributions.

Links to the ad can be found at www.ncpriorities.com.

Hagan hires campaign manager

The 2014 U.S. Senate race is taking shape with Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan hiring Preston Elliott as her campaign manager. Elliott most recently served in the same role to help U.S. Sen. Jon Tester win re-election in Montana, one of the closely watched races of the 2012 campaign cycle.

In 2010, Elliott worked as coordinated campaign director for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his re-election effort, another high-profile race. The big hire signals that Hagan expects a big fight in 2014.

“He has a proven track record of success, and with his help and the help of North Carolinians of all walks of life, I expect to cross the finish line with a victory in November 2014,” Hagan said in a statement.

Whom might Hagan face?

A new Public Policy Polling survey shows the 2014 race is wide open race among Republican primary voters.

Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest leads the field with 18 percent, according to the Democratic polling firm. PPP added Forest’s name to the potential field for the first time this month and he still managed to outpace U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx of Banner Elk (13 percent) and N.C. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry (12 percent).

The only announced candidate, tea partier Greg Brannon, gets 4 percent and at least a quarter of voters weren’t decided on any of the nine names PPP tested.

Behind Berry, U.S. Rep Renee Ellmers of Dunn is the favorite among 10 percent of voters polled. Both are exploring running. But Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s numbers also are interesting. The Eden Republican gets 8 percent, but more Republican primary voters view him unfavorably than favorably. Still, compared to House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is at 2 percent support, Berger is ahead.

Radio ads target fracking

An environmental advocacy group is trying to generate grass-roots opposition to the fracking bill with radio ads that target two lawmakers’ districts.

Clean Water for North Carolina, a nonprofit, is running the minute-long radio spot in Raleigh and in the districts of Republican Reps. James Boles and Mike Stone, both of whom live in the area in central North Carolina ripe for natural gas extraction.

“Some legislators want to go back on their promises and fast track fracking and get rid of a lot of important protections,” a woman says, amid the clatter of what sounds like diner dishes.

“And politicians wonder why we don’t trust them,” a man replies.

The ad does not name any lawmakers but encourages listeners to contact their representatives and express opposition to the legislation (SB76), which passed the Senate in February and awaits action in the House.

“We can call our legislators and tell them to keep the promises and don’t jump the gun,” the woman says toward the end of the ad. “And make sure we are protecting families and not corporate profits.”

The size of the radio buy is not clear, making it difficult to determine whether it will have an effect on the legislation.

Staff writers Rob Christensen and John Frank

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