Morning Memo: McCrory to hit campaign trail; Hagan wants enrollment extension

Posted by John Frank on October 24, 2013 

Gov. Pat McCrory will try to help boost Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s struggling campaign for Virginia governor Thursday. McCrory is scheduled to attend a get-out-the-vote rally at a campaign office in Roanoke.

McCrory is returning the favor after Virginia’s Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell came to North Carolina to help McCrory’s 2012 campaign. But McCrory will find little in common with Cuccinelli. For one, Cuccinelli is down 17 percentage points in the latest polls against Democrat Terry McAuliffe. At this point a year ago, McCrory was leading by double digits in North Carolina

On the issues, both support offshore drilling and cutting income taxes. But Cuccinelli is a tea partier and political lightning rod criticized by a number of prominent Republicans. Cuccinelli proposed a “personhood” bill in the state Senate and as attorney general told Virginia colleges they couldn’t ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“We’ve come to expect Gov. McCrory to coddle the extremist elements of his party, but this shows he will say and do anything to pander to the political fringe,” said Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller in a statement.

*** Read more from Kay Hagan on the federal health care law and more N.C. political news below in the Dome Morning Memo. ***

TODAY IN POLTICS: Gov. Pat McCrory is schedule to speak at a prayer breakfast in Durham on Thursday morning. His public calendar makes no mention of his campaign trip to Roanoke.

@SenatorHagan tweet: "ACA website problems unacceptable. I support extending open enrollment so NC families have time to shop for insurance plan right for them.”

RELATED: Democrats call for firings and changes amid health care law troubles. Read more here.

ELECTION EXPERT TO SPEAK THURSDAY: N.C. State University will host Richard Hasen, a University of California-Irvine professor, for a lecture titled “Race, Party and Politics: North Carolina’s New Front in the Voting Wars.” Hasen has argued against North Carolina’s new voting law, saying it amounts to suppression. His speech starts at 7 p.m. Thursday in Withers Hall, room 232a.

JAMIE HAHN CELEBRATION: Family and friends of the late Jamie Hahn will celebrate her birthday with a party Friday and a day of service and fundraising concert at the Lincoln Theatre on Saturday. Hahn was a Democratic operative and fundraiser who was stabbed to death at her home earlier this year. A foundation in her name is hosting the events. Find more details here.

HOW A LETTER ABOUT A N.C. TEACHER’S STRUGGLES WENT VIRAL -- More than a half million views at newsobserer.com: In an interview this week, the Browns, who live in Raleigh, say they have been overwhelmed by the response. “It’s been crazy, but in a good way,” outgoing teacher Haley Brown said. “I just had no idea it would go this far. I just figured a couple of people would like it and say, ‘Good for you,’ you know, and that would be it. It’s really just been unbelievable.” She’s received hugs of support. Parents of former students have been in touch. Fellow teachers have echoed her sentiments – some saying they wish they could do the same thing. Read more here.

Front page Charlotte Observer headline: McCRORY MEDICAID POSITION IN FLUX? The story: Citing new federal regulations, Gov. Pat McCrory said this week that North Carolina could be forced to expand Medicaid to more low-income people, despite the legislature’s vote earlier this year to reject that option under the Affordable Care Act.

In a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, McCrory said the decision about whether to expand Medicaid is “one of the most difficult issues on the governors’ plates right now.”

McCrory was referring to a federal regulation under the health care overhaul that expands the ability of hospitals to presume that some uninsured patients are likely to qualify for Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Hospitals can then bill the state for the care of those patients for up to two months until a final determination is made. ...A spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services disputed McCrory’s understanding of the regulation, which was published in July. Read more here.

STATE’S CASE AGAINST OFFICERS CRUMBLES: Late one night, a Butner Public Safety officer pulled over a suspected drunken driver who turned out to be a captain in the State Highway Patrol, and took him to a hotel instead of jail. When word leaked out, the repercussions were swift: Four law enforcement officers were fired within months.

But 3-1/2 years later, the case against the officers has crumbled. All but one of them have won court battles challenging their dismissals, as judges found there was insufficient evidence that the patrol captain was drunk, or that the Butner officers gave him special treatment or tried to cover it up. Read more here.

GOP MAYORAL CANDIDATE ON McCRORY: Republican Edwin Peacock in a debate Wednesday, speaking on Gov. Pat McCrory, the city’s former GOP mayor: Peacock said he was surprised Gov. Pat McCrory did not publicly oppose the airport bill. “That was not Mayor Pat, that was Governor Pat. That was unfortunate. I think he should have spoken up.” Read more here.

FOREST TOUTS MEADOWS: The Democratic Party called attention to a quote in the Morganton News Herald that we missed the other day from Lt. Gov. Dan Forest: “I ask myself, ‘Where are the Ronald Reagans today? Will America see another Ronald Reagan?,’” said Forest. “But I see glimpses of Reagan in elected officials like Congressman Meadows. … Meadows is the smartest man in Washington today.”

Given Meadows’ role as leader in the effort that led to the government shutdown, the quote aligns Forest with a select wing of the Republican Party. But it’s worth noting that Forest “agreed that defaulting on our debt as a nation would be catastrophic,” which puts him at odds with the tea partiers who support him. Read more here.

MEL WATT EXPECTS CONFIRMATION SOON: From WCNC -- Longtime Congressman Mel Watt, Democrat representing the 12th congressional district, told NBC Charlotte he expects to be confirmed as the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency in the coming weeks. On May 1, President Obama nominated Watt, but so far the U.S. Senate hasn’t confirmed the selection. “I think we've got a window in the next three, four weeks where this could happen. I expect it to happen,” said Watt. Read more here.

MORE TILLIS ACOLYTES ENDORSE TILLIS: Thom Tillis’ U.S. Senate campaign announced more endorsements from Republican lawmakers loyal the House Speaker. The list: Reps. Pat Hurley, Allen McNeill, Jamie Boles, Tim Moffitt, Nathan Ramsey, Brian Brown, Susan Martin, John Szoka, Justin Burr, Jeff Collins, Jimmy Dixon, Pat McElraft, Jason Saine and Mike Stone.

NATIONAL ENQUIRER AGAIN: Take this for what you will, but the publication that helped end John Edwards career is now reporting that he kicked out his former mistress, Rielle Hunter. If you care, read it here.

A LINK: A group opposed to privatizing state economic development issued its report Wednesday compiling problems with such programs in states across the country. Read it here.

STATE AUDITORS OFFICE EXAMINES PHONE CALLS: The state auditor’s office is apparently investigating international phone calls made from Elizabeth City State University as officials at the school say they also are conducting an inquiry into tens of thousands spent on calls abroad.

Email messages show that an investigator with the auditor’s office obtained records of the calls in September and October. Read more here.

HAGAN TOUTS BILL TO HIRE VETERANS: U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan was in Charlotte on Wednesday to tout a “Hire a Hero” bill that would make permanent a set of expiring tax credits to business owners who hire veterans. The original measure, which passed in 2011, provides businesses a $5,600 tax credit for hiring a long-term unemployed veteran, and a $9,600 tax credit for hiring a veteran with a service-related disability. Read more here.

DURHAM COUPLE RECORDS MARRIAGE LICENSE: Two local women denied a marriage license in Durham County last year recorded the license they got in New York last summer with the Durham County Register of Deeds on Tuesday.

Barb Goldstein, 66, and Ann Willoughby, 77, got married in Kingston, N.Y., in June 2012, about a month after the Durham County Register of Deeds rejected their application for a license. Their actions then and now were part of The Campaign for Southern Equality’s efforts on behalf of same-sex marriage rights. Recording their New York marriage license in Durham has no immediate practical impact in North Carolina, where the state constitution defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Read more here.

GOVERNORS GATHER: From the News & Record -- Most, and maybe all, of North Carolina's living former governors are expected in Greensboro next week to raise money and kick off a series of economic development forums named after 19th Century Gov. John Motley Morehead. Read more here.

TOP HONOR: A scientist who helped discover how to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDs, a long-time educator who came up with a way to merge the state’s black and white teachers associations, and a linguist famed for his work with dialects such as the “hoi toide” brogue of the North Carolina coast are among six new winners of the state's highest civilian honor. Read more here.

WRIGHT BROTHERS’ LEGACY UNITES NORTH CAROLINA, OHIO LAWMAKERS: Ohio and North Carolina partisans, who have sniped at each other in a century-long struggle over the Wright Brothers legacy, will join forces this week for a First-in-Flight feud with a new common enemy: Connecticut.

In a shared press conference to be staged Thursday near historic aviation landmarks at Dayton and Kitty Hawk, two legislators from the Buckeye and Tar Heel states will launch a hot-air assault on a new Connecticut law that gives credit for the first flight by a heavier-than-air craft to a Bavarian immigrant named Gustave Whitehead. “Sometimes people say things that aren’t true, and if they say them enough, people start to believe them,” N.C. Sen. Phil Cook of Chocowinity, whose district includes the Dare County Outer Banks, said in an interview Wednesday. “I really can’t believe what the folks in Connecticut did. That’s beyond the pale.” Read more here.

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