Under the Dome

Dome: Public opinion of General Assembly is slipping

March 17, 2013 

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Republican leaders, including House Elections Committee Chairman David Lewis, behind the podium, and House Speaker Thom Tillis, right, address their plans on the legislation that will require voters to present photo identification before they cast a ballot. The press conference was at the N.C. Legislature Tuesday, March 4, 2013.

TAKAAKI IWABU — tiwabu@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

GOP Gov. Pat McCrory remains popular, but Republican rule in Raleigh is getting mediocre reviews, according to a new poll.

McCrory has an approval rating of 49 percent, and a disapproval rating of 35 percent, with 16 percent not sure, according to a new survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm based in Raleigh. That compares with Democratic President Barack Obama, who has a 47/50 approval/disapproval rating in the state, and Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who has a 37/37 approval/disapproval rating.

But when asked how Republicans in general are doing running state government, 23 percent approved and 49 percent disapproved. Republican rule was being pulled down by the public’s low opinion of the legislature. The legislature had an approval rating of 23 percent and a disapproval rating of 49 percent.

Most of the positions the legislature has been taking lately do not seem to have majority support, the poll suggests.

Only 36 percent support a law to prohibit women baring their breasts in public (41 percent oppose), only 30 percent support blocking expansion of Medicaid health coverage to 500,000 North Carolinians (56 percent oppose), and 68 percent support continued straight-party voting.

As for Washington, 53 percent support stricter gun laws (38 percent oppose) and 50 percent support banning assault weapons (41 percent oppose).

The survey of 611 North Carolina voters was conducted March 7-10 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

McCrory raises cash for Tillis

McCrory gave House Speaker Thom Tillis a boost the other day. The governor returned to Charlotte on Friday to help Tillis raise campaign cash – for what campaign isn’t clear.

McCrory was Tillis’ guest at the Myers Park Country Club fundraiser, which attracted some blue-chip Charlotte hosts, including Tim Belk, Smokey Bissell, Tom Nelson, Allen Tate and Ed McMahan.

Tillis, holding himself to self-imposed term limits, has said he’s in his last term in the House. He could choose to use the money on other House candidates next year. But he’s also on the list of possible Republican candidates to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in 2014.

One sponsor of Friday’s fundraiser was Ned Curran, president of Bissell Companies. He said he was supporting Tillis for whatever he needed. “I think it’s part of him having resources for himself or for others to be effective at what he does,” Curran said.

Tillis was interviewed on MSNBC on Saturday about North Carolina’s voter ID issue. Tillis said actual voter fraud isn’t the point – restoring confidence in government is what it’s all about, since the majority of North Carolinians favor it.

Also Friday, in another sign that he is interested in challenging Hagan, state Senate leader Phil Berger was in Washington attending the Conservative Political Action Conference.

CPAC is a major gathering of conservative activists and groups from around the country. It allows political hopefuls such as Berger a chance to make connections needed to run a U.S. Senate race.

Health law foe wins support

Mike Ruffer, a Raleigh-area local restaurateur, is getting support from business leaders after he came under fire for his concerns about how the Affordable Care Act would affect his businesses. Ruffer, who owns eight Five Guys and Burgers and Fries franchises in North Carolina, said on Monday that the new health care law was hurting his business and forcing him to cancel expansion plans and raise burger prices. He made his remarks during a Heritage Foundation panel discussion.

After his comments hit the Internet, calls from supporters were made to Five Guys headquarters, and the company began distancing itself from Ruffer’s comments, according to the group Job Creators Alliance, which announced its support for Ruffer.

“Mike Ruffer is in the same tough spot most job creators are in today: stuck between uncertainty and Obamacare,” said Bernie Marcus, co-founder and former CEO of Home Depot. He also is a co-founder of the Job Creators Alliance.

“He has every right to speak his mind, but today he’s being punished for it,” Marcus said. “In fact, it’s just the latest – we’re just seeing a pattern of intimidation against small-business leaders who speak up about the failures of Obamacare.’’

The Job Creators Alliance argues that there have been orchestrated campaigns to silence business dissent in recent months against Papa John’s, Darden’s Restaurants, a group of Denny’s franchises, Whole Foods, Universal Orlando Resorts and golfer Phil Mickelson.

Staff writer Rob Christensen and Charlotte Observer staff writer Jim Morrill

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