Morning Memo: GOP reaches out to African-American voters

Posted by John Frank on October 22, 2013 

The Republican National Committee is intensifying its outreach efforts to African-American voters in North Carolina. The RNC opened an “engagement office” in Charlotte on Monday in what state GOP Chairman Claude Pope called a “historic moment for our party.”

“We’ve been building a tremendous grassroots network across the state, and it is vital that we increase our base of support by making sure we’re reaching out to all voters and building strong, lasting relationships with every community,” he said in a statement.

The move is designed to influence the Charlotte mayors race and develop strategies for statewide campaigns. The party is facing criticism for authoring a voter ID law that critics believe is racially motivated. African-Americans are 22 percent of the state’s registered voters. In Mecklenburg County, 32 percent of the voter population is black.

***How is the shutdown playing in North Carolina’s districts? Take a look at below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory is speaking at the N.C. Bankers Association management meeting at 11:30 a.m. in Pinehurst.

THE SHUTDOWN BACK HOME: From Southern Pines -- Days after the federal government shutdown and bitter partisan budget battle ended in the nation’s capital, the conversation about what it means continues on Pennsylvania Avenue in this small town in the North Carolina sandhills represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers.

Stan Herman served his first wood-fired pizza at his new restaurant Oct. 1. “Shutdown day,” he said. The irony that he opened on the day the government shut down is not lost on him. For his first two weeks, he offered discounts to military families from nearby Fort Bragg who were affected by the political impasse on the other Pennsylvania Avenue.

The president “may have gotten some short-term political gain,” said Herman, who calls himself a “centrist.” “But overall these people don’t understand that everybody hates all of them. All of them.” Get more GOP reaction from Ellmers district here.

McCRORY GOES TO WASHINGTON ... : Less than a week after the government shutdown ended, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory traveled to the nation’s capitol to give a talk to a group that championed the effort to tie government funding to defunding the health care law.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy group, introduced McCrory as the kind of Republican reformer that Washington could emulate. McCrory never addressed the controversial shutdown and host Becky Norton Dunlop, a Heritage vice president, didn’t bring it up. Read more here.

...AND RAISES MORE QUESTIONS: From Travis Fain at the News & Record -- Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday that North Carolina may have to expand its Medicaid health insurance program, citing a back door in federal health reforms forcing his hand Reform experts immediately questioned his logic, though changes in the law do give hospitals more power to temporarily approve Medicaid eligibility, potentially putting the state-and-federally-funded program on the hook for more patient bills. Read more here.

ADMINISTRATION DENIES VOTER ID CLAIMS: Gov. Pat McCrory and other state officials filed their first official response Monday to two of the three federal court lawsuits that challenge the extensive election-law changes adopted this past summer.

In response to allegations by the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, several voters and other civil rights organizations, attorneys for the governor and state officials dispute plaintiffs’ contentions that the new measures are a blatant attempt to suppress the African-American vote. The filings offer few details of the legal strategy the attorneys representing the governor and the Republican-led legislature plan to employ in fighting the suits. Read more here.

TEACHERS PLAN TO FILE LAWSUIT: From AP -- Public school teachers and administrators are gearing up to fight a new North Carolina law that eliminates job protections and shifts toward paying teachers based on job performance.

Teachers are signing petitions, planning a walk-out and preparing legal action to fight a law passed in July that directs school districts to offer their top teachers a chance to sign four-year contracts in exchange for pay raises totaling $5,000 while gradually eliminating tenure.

NCAE is planning to file a lawsuit in the coming months to challenge the elimination of teacher tenure, said Ann McColl, the organization's top lawyer. The lawsuit is likely to argue that the state would be violating the contractual rights of teachers who have either enjoyed the job protections or were on their way to earning them, she said. Many teachers saw tenure as balancing low pay, she said. Read more here.

BUSINESSES EMBRACE PRIVATE HEALTH EXCHANGES: North Carolina will soon have a pair of private insurance exchanges on which residents will be able shop online for individual health insurance plans rather than going through an insurance agent or customer service rep.

The N.C. Chamber, the state’s business lobby, and Digital Benefit Advisors, a national consulting company, both plan to launch online insurance marketplaces next month. The websites are primarily designed as an online insurance shopping mall for employees, but they will be accessible to the public as well.

Businesses are increasingly turning to insurance exchanges as an alternative to conventional insurance packages that offer limited benefits for workers. With an exchange, a company provides employees with a cash allowance and lets the workers choose from a menu of insurance options. Read more here.

SCOTT MOONEYHAM ON THE GOP DANCE: The irony is no obvious, but it’s there. Last week, Thom Tillis, the Republican speaker of the North Carolina House and U.S. Senate candidate, joined two rivals for the GOP Senate nomination in saying that he would have voted “no” on the measure that ended the federal government shutdown and averted a deadline in raising the federal debt limit.

... Still, that position, while catering to a conservative primary electorate, does neither he nor any of his GOP opponents much good once a primary is over and the real contest against Hagan begins. Read more here.

FOREST SAYS GOP FACES UPHILL BATTLE IN CHARLOTTE: Lt. Gov. Dan Forest acknowledged Monday that fellow Republican Edwin Peacock faces an uphill battle for mayor of Charlotte. But, he added, so did his mother a quarter-century ago.

Forest was in Charlotte to rally the troops at GOP headquarters, where he was joined by Peacock and state party chairman Claude Pope. “Some of our races are uphill battles,” he told two dozen party officials and campaign volunteers, a reference to the mayoral race in a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.

But Forest said his mother, Sue Myrick, also faced an uphill battle when she ran for mayor in 1987. On the eve of the election, a poll showed her trailing incumbent Democrat Harvey Gantt by nine percentage points. She won the first of two terms, and later went to Congress. Read more here.

MARRIAGE BATTLE CONTINUES: Same-sex couples legally married in other states are being encouraged to start registering their documents in North Carolina courthouses. Read more here.

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