Morning Memo: Conservative group to hit Kay Hagan with big TV ad buy

Posted by John Frank on October 29, 2013 

A conservative advocacy organization is preparing to spend $1.7 million to bash Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan with television advertisements that highlight her support for the federal health care law.

Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips will debut the ad Tuesday morning at an event in Raleigh. Politico reported that North Carolina is one of two states, the other being Louisiana, where AFP is airing ads. “Who gets stuck with the bill? Families and small businesses,” the ad attacking Hagan says, Politico reported. “Kay Hagan: taking care of Washington insiders, not North Carolina families.”

The Democratic Party sees the spot as an effort to boost House Speaker Thom Tillis, the leading Republican candidates. The ads cannot explicitly support one candidate. "Once again, special interest Speaker Thom Tillis is in trouble, and once again shady special interest groups are riding to his rescue,” said Ben Ray, a spokesman.

*** Check Dome later today for more on the TV ads and keep reading the Dome Morning Memo below for a North Carolina political news roundup.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory will attend the Governor Morehead Forum for Economic Development Reception at 7:30 p.m. in Greensboro.

The Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations -- known more commonly as GovOps -- meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Art Pope, the state budget director, is expected to brief legislative leaders, including Phil Berger and Thom Tillis, on how much money the state will recover from consolidating outside economic development groups, such as the Rural Center.

The McCrory administration’s plans to repair and renovate some state buildings is also on the agenda. State lawmakers may press back on the recent potty-gate controversy.

A number of North Carolina business leaders and conservatives are meeting in Washington on Tuesday to urge Congress to take up broad immigration legislation. The group is part of a larger event organized by Partnership for a New American Economy, Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Among the North Carolina names heading to the halls of Congress to lobby: John Barnes, CEO at FarmPak; Lisa Barnes, a Nash County commissioner; Scott and Kristen Laster at Southern Strategies; and Tim Minton, an executive vice president at the Raleigh-Wake Home Builders Association.

LET THE LOBBYING BEGIN: It’s report card time for state lawmakers and lobbyists. The N.C. Center for Public Policy Research has sent out its survey asking Capital City political players to rank the effectiveness of state lawmakers. The rankings — released every two years — are far from scientific and merely reflect Raleigh conventional wisdom, yet they amount to political bragging rights at the statehouse.

The survey also asks people to rank the 10 most influential lobbyists, as well as the five most powerful committees in each chamber and the five most significant bills of the 2013 session. So let the behind-the-scenes lobbying for titles begin. But don’t bother spinning Dome reporters. Even though we receive the surveys, we don’t participate.

CIVITAS CLAIMS BANNER YEAR AS IT LOOKS FOR NEW FUNDING SOURCES: The Civitas Institute is touting the 2013 session as the “legislative equivalent of a World Series sweep for conservatives” and taking credit for being the “intellectual firepower for some of the most important conservative advances” this year.

The chest-puffing from the conservative think tank comes in its annual report. The report shows Civitas took in nearly $1.9 million in income in the 2013 fiscal year, a 12 percent increase from the year before as Republicans took control of the entire lawmaking process in Raleigh. The nonprofit spent $1.7 million on programs, fundraising and management, it reported.

Since its start in 2005, the organization has received most of its money from the John W. Pope Foundation run by Art Pope, Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget director and a prominent conservative financier. The organization is trying to expand its support and saw contributions about double this year to $109,000. About 28 percent of its support now comes from sources other than Pope’s foundation, which is much higher than previous years because of two large grants.

2014 LEGISLATIVE RACES --

REPUBLICAN TURNED DEMOCRAT MAY CHALLENGE GOOLSBY: From the Wilmington Star-News -- Former New Hanover County school board member Elizabeth Redenbaugh is considering a run for Republican Thom Goolsby’s state Senate seat next year.

Redenbaugh, who was elected to the school board in 2008 as a Republican and lost her 2012 re-election bid as a Democrat, said she had been considering running for another local office since the 2012 school board race ended. But over the past several months, Redenbaugh said, she has received almost weekly requests from people asking her to run against Goolsby. Redenbaugh would run for the Senate seat as a Democrat. Read the story here. And more on Redenbaugh here.

McGRADY GETS GOP CHALLENGER: Citing what he called misplaced budget priorities among leaders in Raleigh, a retired state investigator announced Monday he will challenge N.C. Rep. Chuck McGrady in the 2014 Republican primary for his District 117 House seat.

Ronnie Edwards, 56, filed organizational documents with the State Board of Elections Oct. 3, naming himself as his campaign's temporary treasurer and Dennis Miller as his campaign manager. He also reported $100 in cash on hand.

The husband of Henderson County School Board member Lisa Edwards, Ronnie Edwards retired in 2011 as a fraud and theft investigator for the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles. He currently works as a fleet manager for Single Source Solutions in Fletcher. Read more here.

N.C. CONGRESSMAN ESCORTS JESSE JACKSON JR. TO PRISON IN BUTNER: From CNN -- Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. -- once a rising Democratic star whose political career imploded over the use of campaign finances to support lavish personal spending -- reported to federal prison Monday, his spokeswoman said, but his whereabouts were not immediately known. ... Jackson's spokeswoman Bunnie Jackson-Ransom said he was accompanied to the medium-security facility in Butner, North Carolina, by Hoffler and Rep. G.K. Butterfield.

"He is in good spirits, all things considered," Butterfield said, according to a news release. Read more here.

MEL WATT'S MAJOR TEST: Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., faces a major test this week in his potential confirmation to lead the agency that oversees the quasi-government titans of mortgage finance, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Calling it a top White House priority, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and other senior administration officials met with housing and financial industry leaders Monday to ask for their assistance in pressing the Senate to quickly confirm the Charlotte congressman.

“The Senate should move forward to confirm him this week,” said Amy Brundage, a White House spokeswoman; “the President and his senior team will continue to push hard for Watt until he is confirmed and in place.” Read more here.

BAD NEWS FOR ALL YOU COMMUTERS: More Beltline construction. Read more here.

PARKS DIRECTOR TO DEPART: AP -- North Carolina's state parks director for the past 10 years is leaving state government to become the head of a national association for similar state leaders. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced Monday that Lewis Ledford is retiring at the end of the year to join the National Association of State Park Directors as its executive director.

Ledford began working in the North Carolina parks as a ranger in 1976 at Umstead State Park and rose through the ranks, becoming state parks superintendent and then director in 2003. The department says he helped lead the state's effort to purchase Chimney Rock and Grandfather Mountain. Internet and call-center reservations system took off under his leadership, too.

RALEIGH TO TAKE DOWN GUN SIGNS: City officials are taking down park signs this week that explicitly ban concealed weapons, but a gun rights group says the effort doesn’t go far enough.

Grass Roots North Carolina continues to lobby Raleigh’s parks department to update its signs to reflect the state law allowing concealed guns in parks. Grass Roots President Paul Valone says his members are getting ready to send Mayor Nancy McFarlane a gift: rolls of duct tape to cover up the controversial text. Read more here.

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION GRANTS LIMITED EXTENSION: With website woes ongoing, the Obama administration Monday granted a six-week extension until March 31 for Americans to sign up for coverage next year and avoid new tax penalties under the president's health care overhaul law.

The move had been expected since White House spokesman Jay Carney promised quick action last week to resolve a "disconnect" in the implementation of the law. Read more here.

IS THE TEA PARTY OVER? AP -- A slice of corporate America thinks tea partyers have overstayed their welcome in Washington and should be shown the door in next year's congressional elections.

In what could be a sign of challenges to come across the country, two U.S. House races in Michigan mark a turnabout from several years of widely heralded contests in which right-flank candidates have tried — sometimes successfully — to unseat Republican incumbents they perceive as not being conservative enough. Read more here.

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