Morning Memo: McCrory’s style fuels concern, cost GOP candidate votes

Posted by John Frank on November 11, 2013 

Gov. Pat McCrory had a tough few days in the headlines. The Republican candidate for Charlotte mayor suggested McCrory may have cost him votes. The governor’s controversial approach to speaking and governing drew front-page stories. And McCrory had to read in the New York Times about a handful of governors who are doing it right and being considered for higher office.

From this morning’s paper: Gov. Pat McCrory’s improvisational style is putting him in hot water and critics are questioning his credibility. At least a dozen times in his first 10 months as governor, McCrory’s remarks have sparked controversies.

Michael Munger, a Duke University political analyst who considers himself a McCrory fan, said the governor’s aw-shucks style honed as Charlotte mayor is leading to embarrassing mistakes. “He seems to have been blindsided,” Munger said, comparing McCrory to George W. Bush’s transition from Texas governor to president. “There is a narrative that he’s sort of a bumbler.”

Does this spell trouble ahead? Read more from the article – A1 in Raleigh and Charlotte – and see a list of some of his controversial statements.

***Even more North Carolina political analysis and headlines below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory has asked for a moment of silence at 11 a.m. to honor veterans.

The Big Headline -- Did Pat McCrory and GOP legislature cost the party the Charlotte mayor’s race? From the Charlotte Observer: Did Pat McCrory cost Edwin Peacock votes? Peacock thinks so. The Republican businessman lost Charlotte’s mayoral race Tuesday to Democrat Patrick Cannon by 6,000 votes.

Peacock said McCrory, the Republican governor and former Charlotte mayor, often came up when he talked to voters – and usually, not in a positive way. “What they would ask me is, ‘Are you going to be another Pat McCrory?’” Peacock said. “I do think it was a contributory factor. This was the anti- McCrory, anti-legislature sentiment.”

THE KICKER: State Rep. Bill Brawley, a Matthews Republican who co-sponsored the airport measure, said he reached out to Peacock. “I offered to help him any way he thought it would help – either by endorsing him or coming out against him,” Brawley said. “He laughed.” Read full story here.

MORE: McCrory has kind words for new Democratic mayor. Read more here.

AS WASHINGTON KEEPS SINKING, GOVERNORS RISE: That’s the headline on an A1 New York Times Sunday piece. It starts: “At a time when Mr. Obama and members of Congress are mired in partisanship and gridlock, many governors — including Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican who was re-elected by an overwhelming margin on Tuesday, and the chief executives of such states as Arkansas, California, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Ohio — are showing that it is possible to be successful in elected office, even in this era.

“These governors are, at least by comparison to lawmakers in Washington, capable and popular leaders, pushing through major legislation and trying to figure out ways, with mixed success, to avoid the partisan wrangling that has come to symbolize Washington.”

You have to wonder, if things had gone differently this year, very differently, whether North Carolina and Gov. Pat McCrory might enter this picture. Read the full article here.

... AND IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: A McCrory editorial cartoon caption contest. The winner: "We bought this in Charlotte but it doesn't work in Raleigh." See it here.

COBLE ON HIS DISTRICT AS A VERY CROWDED FIELD EMERGES: There could be well over a dozen candidates hoping to replace U.S. Rep. Howard Coble when he leaves office next year -- and that's just counting Republicans.

That's what Guilford County Republican Party Chairman Michael Picarellis says, according to The Greensboro News & Record. Some people have been waiting for this chance for a decade, he said.

But once the primary is settled, the GOP isn't counting on an easy victory lap. Redrawn boundaries have made the 6th Congressional District a little less conservative, in order to bolster Republican chances in neighboring districts. It now extends into parts of Durham and Orange counties.

"As a result of redistricting, the district is now a more Democratic district. That’s bad news for Republicans," Coble said upon announcing his intentions on Thursday, the newspaper reported. "I think the right Democrat could win."

Those were galvanizing words for the only declared Democratic candidate so far: Laura Fjeld, a former UNC system official. Her campaign was quick to spread Coble's words far and wide.

McCRORY TO KEYNOTE GOP AWARD EVENT: The state GOP will gather for a round of back-patting for its accomplishments over the past few years at its 16th hall of fame awards at the Embassy Suites in Cary on Saturday. Gov. Pat McCrory will be the featured speaker.

The awards celebration began in 1982, and since 1985 in odd-numbered years the state party honors someone from each congressional district. There will also be three statewide awards.

"We’re excited to host the Hall of Fame Awards Celebration and thank the volunteers whose contributions helped lead to the NCGOP’s great success in recent years," said North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope in a news release. "Last year, North Carolina elected the first Republican Governor and Lieutenant Governor in 20 years, increased majorities in the state House and Senate, and Republicans picked up three seats in North Carolina’s Congressional delegation. These successes would have never been possible without the help of the thousands of dedicated and hardworking NCGOP volunteers across the state."

THE THREE POLITICAL STATES OF NORTH CAROLINA: Another game of let’s divide the country into a new map has been making the rounds. Portland (Maine) Press Herald reporter Colin Woodard has split the U.S. into 11 nation states, based on language, culture, religion and voting.

The Washington Post’s state political blog, Govbeat, posted the map late last week, and it took off across the borderless nation of the Internet. North Carolina? Not surprisingly, it’s a bit of “Tidewater” from the Triangle to the northeast, a bit of “Greater Appalachia” to the west, with some “Deep South” thrown in more or less down east.

Here’s a little of Woodard’s analysis, which appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of Tufts University’s alumni magazine:

Tidewater: “It was the most powerful of the American nations in the eighteenth century, but today it is in decline, partly because it was cut off from westward expansion by its boisterous Appalachian neighbors and, more recently, because it has been eaten away by the expanding federal halos around D.C. and Norfolk.”

Greater Appalachia: “Intensely suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers alike, Greater Appalachia has shifted alliances depending on who appeared to be the greatest threat to their freedom.”

Deep South: “Its caste systems smashed by outside intervention, it continues to fight against expanded federal powers, taxes on capital and the wealthy, and environmental, labor, and consumer regulations.” See the map here.

RICHARD BURR ON NOW-DEMOCRAT CHARLIE CRIST IN FLORIDA: Former Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is now running as a Democrat to reclaim his seat. Richard Burr got to know him from their Wake Forest days. Of Crist’s bid, Burr tells the Tampa Bay Times: "Charlie seems to be in search of a title. Any time a political figure seems to either give up or change their foundational beliefs, which he did, it's pretty tough to come back from that. This is an uphill battle for him."

KAY HAGAN VENTS ABOUT HEALTH CARE LAW: The Democratic U.S. senator’s entire statement pushing back against the White House on the federal health insurance mess. Republicans are pouncing on the remarks as signs Hagan is “flip-flopping.” Her statement: "North Carolinians deserve health care that works. An apology is only helpful if it is followed by direct and meaningful action to get the Affordable Care Act working, which is why I've pushed to extend the open enrollment deadline and am supporting a bill that would allow people to keep their current plans. The administration should join these efforts to fix the problems.

"At a meeting with the President, I expressed the deep frustration that I and many North Carolinians have with being unable to access the online exchanges and shop for a new plan, and I told him that the level of transparency and accountability in the concrete steps they are taking to fix this problem must improve. I've always said that this law would require fixes and everyone needs to be on board with making this law work so that we can get people affordable health insurance that doesn't discriminate based on pre-existing conditions or kick you to the curb when you get sick. The Administration needs to step up and fix these problems if we are to accomplish that goal."

A LINK: The full results from the Civitas-commissioned poll.

DENTIST CONTINUED TO PRACTICE AFTER DEATH -- State dental board later kept punishment quiet: However, the story is likely unknown by some of the clientele that (dentist Toni) Mascherin accrued in 27 years of practice. As many medical authorities do, the state dental board punished its dentist carefully but quietly.

Per its policy, the board and its staff kept the investigation under seal for eight months after the death of Thoits. ...

Investigators worked on the case from November through June, collecting records and conducting interviews. During that time, the dentist was free to continue administering the same moderate-sedation drug that had turned a tooth extraction lethal under her supervision. The board’s public records don’t show whether she did so. “Legally, yes,” she was allowed to, according to Bobby White, chief operations officer for the dental board. “Whether it’s wise to do it, though, or not ...” he said, trailing off. Read more here.

THE FALL, NOW RISE OF POVERTY IN N.C.: From columnist Rob Christensen -- Fifty years ago, North Carolina declared war on poverty and did a pretty fair job of beating it back. But now it’s on the rise again. ...

The new economy, writes N.C. State University economist Michael Walden, created winners and losers. The losers included high school dropouts, workers with only a high school education, blue-collar workers, Hispanics and workers in the construction industry and in entertainment.

“The rising tide,” Walden writes in his book “North Carolina in the Connected Age,” did not lift all boats. “Some floundered.”

It will be difficult for leaders in Raleigh – whether they be Democrat or Republican – to quickly turn around what looks to be structural poverty. Read more here.

STATE LIABLE FOR OVERDOSE AT DHHS FACILITY: Jeffrey S. Harbin checked himself in to a state drug treatment center to break his addiction. He was dead days later, poisoned by methadone at the R. J. Blackley Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center in Butner.

More than four years after his August 2009 death, the N.C. Industrial Commission this week award Harbin’s parents $527,946 in damages, including medical and funeral expenses. ... R. J. Blackley is run by the state Department of Health and Human Services. Read more here.

LEGISLATIVE FIXES MAKE COURT CHALLENGE MOOT: The state legislature last year reversed course on limits to pre-kindergarten programs for poor children, effectively resolving a legal challenge, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.

But the court’s narrow decision didn’t answer the larger question about how far the state will go to extend early childhood education to needy children.

Friday’s ruling was the latest legal twist in a long-running case about the state’s commitment to education in its poorest counties. Read more here.

TONIGHT: Former director of the CIA and NSA Gen. Michael Hayden and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Barton Gellman will share a stage for the first time to discuss “Leakers or Whistleblowers? National Security Reporting in the Digital Age.” The event -- which is the 2013 Robert R. Wilson Lecture -- begins at 6 p.m. Monday in Fleishman Commons at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. It is free and open to the public.

--Staff writer Craig Jarvis contributed to this report.

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