Former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker acknowledged Wednesday he is thinking about running for governor in 2016.
Meeker told Dome he believes he is one of about a dozen Democrats with the background, contacts and potential to unseat first-term Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
He said hes considering a return to the campaign trail, but that no serious decisions would be made until after the 2014 mid-term elections.
Meeker was mayor of Raleigh from 2001 to 2011, a period that saw growth across the city and in downtown especially. He did not seek re-election in 2011 for what would have been a record-setting sixth term as mayor.
He was a council member before that for eight years. Raleigh operates under a weak-mayor form of government, with a hired city manager in charge of operations.
Meeker is a longtime lawyer in the Raleigh office of the Parker Poe law firm, where he has specialized in governmental issues.
Meeker told Dome hes concerned about job growth in North Carolina. He said hes studying policies and ideas he thinks would lift up the entire state.
Two other Democrats have declared their intentions to run: Durham lawyer Ken Spaulding and Chapel Hill businessman and blogger James Protzman. Attorney General Roy Cooper has been considering a run as well.
DHHS systems scrutinized
A legislative committee will soon begin looking into problems with the state computer programs that allow Medicaid providers to be paid and provide food stamps.
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said Wednesday that a committee will take up the issues. He said that he has heard from medical practices and hospitals that they have had trouble getting claims processed.
Its something were working through, Berger told reporters after the Senates veto session.
The issue came up at the conclusion of the Senate session, when Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, a Democrat from Asheville, brought up the controversy over a pair of high-paid DHHS employees, and complaints about the states NC FAST and NC TRACKS food stamps and Medicaid reimbursement computer systems.
Nesbitt read from an analysis indicating that there have been $1.7 million in raises at the health and human services agency.
Nesbitt said the raises apparently are not going to the right people, because the computer programs are not fast and theyre not on track, he added.
Afterward, Berger told reporters the interim committee will look at the computer issues but not the questions about excessive raises.
The executive branch does have wide authority and discretion to make determinations about hiring and pay levels, and those kinds of things, he said. Im just not sure that its something that rises to the level of the legislature getting deeply involved in the day to day workings.
The state Senate on Wednesday honored Ellie Kinnaird, the longtime Democratic senator who resigned her seat recently to concentrate on grass-roots organizing.
On a motion from fellow Democrat Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham, senators spoke fondly of the Orange County senator.
Sen. Jerry Tillman, a Republican from Archdale, said, Ellie was an unabashed liberal. Be whatever you are, but be that, Tillman said.
Tillman said Kinnaird was a hardworking lawmaker who came to every Republican event she was invited to and probably some she wasnt.
Staff writers J. Andrew Curliss and Craig Jarvis
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