Under the Dome

Dome: DC, Triangle restaurants get boost from Rep. George Holding

mcornatzer@newsobserver.com jfrank@newsobserver.comOctober 16, 2013 

U.S. Rep. George Holding’s third-quarter campaign finance report shows a fondness for fine dining.

The Raleigh Republican, who represents the 13th District, raised $222,000 this quarter but spent $161,000. Some of that money went to other candidates, including $1,000 to congressional candidate David Rouzer. But a good chunk of it was spent on food and beverages at clubs and restaurants in Washington and the Triangle.

Restaurants that have benefited from Holding’s largesse: Morton’s Steakhouse in D.C., where the check for two visits was just shy of $1,700; the Monocle, a D.C. institution where the tally for three nights was close to $1,000; Cafe Parizade in Durham, where one evening came to $779; and the Glenwood Grill in Raleigh, where he dropped $300 on two separate occasions. Visits to two Italian restaurants in North Raleigh – Vivace ($170) and Capri ($147) – are also included in his expenditures.

Holding is in his first term, but having worked for the late Sen. Jesse Helms, he’s no stranger to Washington’s power dining spots, and at least three show up on his list: the Capitol Hill Club, a social club of sorts for Republicans; the 116 Club, a small spot known for its crab cakes; and the University Club. That latter dates to 1904 and boasts that its first president was then-Secretary of War William Howard Taft. It’s not clear whether Holding prefers the John J. Pershing Grille or the William Howard Taft Dining Room.

In other campaign finance report news:

• Democratic state Rep. Alma Adams of Greensboro raised nearly $90,000 in her bid to replace U.S. Rep. Mel Watt in the 12th District. Meanwhile, her state House colleague and fellow Democrat Marcus Brandon of High Point raised $90,239. He, too, wants to replace Watt, President Barack Obama’s pick to run the Federal Housing Administration. Watt awaits confirmation.

• Democrat Laura Fjeld’s $130,000 haul includes a $50,000 personal loan. Fjeld, who lives in northern Orange County, is trying to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Howard Coble in the 6th District. Coble raised $44,000.

• GOP Rep. Virginia Foxx of Banner Elk saw her massive campaign war chest grow by $184,000 to top $1.8 million cash. Foxx has represented the 5th District since 2005.

• Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte raised $130,000, not nearly enough to cover his outstanding debts (loans) at $663,000. Pittenger is in his first term and represents the 9th District.

• And Republican Renee Ellmers of Dunn, who is facing a possible primary challenger in the 2nd District, raised $123,000 from July through September. She now has $181,000 in the bank.

A light moment with Easley

Overheard in the elevator outside the Supreme Court: a genial Mike Easley cracking a joke at his own expense.

The former governor, who was in the courtroom Tuesday to observe oral arguments about pre-kindergarten in the Leandro case, was trying to make his way out of the courthouse along with a crowd of court watchers. As elevators filled, he slipped into one that was almost at capacity. I can fit, he assured his fellow riders.

Then a pause, after which the trim Easley offered this zinger: “A lightweight governor.”

Cowell worried about bond rating

State Treasurer Janet Cowell is concerned that the state’s AAA-bond rating could suffer if Congress fails to take action to avert defaulting on the nation’s debts.

In a letter to the state’s congressional delegation, Cowell warned that default and the partial shutdown of the federal government could hurt the federal government’s bond rating, and cascade down to the state and local levels. The reason: the state’s “dependence upon federal funds and the large military presence in the state.”

Downgraded bond ratings would translate into higher borrowing costs for North Carolina and its local governments, Cowell noted.

Cowell’s letter to the congressional delegation was written Sept. 30 and released this week in response to a reporter’s inquiry about the impact of a federal default.

Schorr Johnson, a spokesman for the Treasurer’s office, said in an email that although a federal default “would be a negative for the global financial markets,” the diversification of the state’s $80 billion pension fund “will help to manage any impact.”

Staff writers Mary Cornatzer, John Frank and David Ranii

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