Morning Memo: NC’s other big campaign in 2014, McCrory starts year 2

Posted by John Frank on January 6, 2014 

Gov. Pat McCrory took office a year ago Sunday amid high hopes, columnist Rob Christensen writes. “Now he is hoping for a reset.”

“Few governors took office with greater promise than McCrory. ... But fed a layup, McCrory has managed to bobble the ball out of bounds,” Christensen wrote in his Sunday column.

As for the coming months and years ahead: “Expect McCrory to reposition himself more in the middle. He is already talking about pushing for a teacher pay raise in the 2014 budget. He also has three years to rebuild his image – a lifetime in politics.”

Get a recap on McCrory’s year in politics in Christensen’s column here.

*** It’s a busy day in North Carolina politics -- one of many to come. Get the rundown below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Sen. Kay Hagan and state lawmakers Josh Stein and Larry Hall will hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Monday in Raleigh to discuss the Democratic senator’s efforts to reinstate jobless benefits for North Carolina’s unemployed workers. In Durham, the N.C. Chamber’s Economic Forecast Forum begins at 9:30 a.m. Gov. Pat McCrory and Sen. Richard Burr are scheduled to speak.

At the legislative building, the Perinatal Health Committee meets at 10 a.m. in room 1027.

On the coast, Republican state Sen. Bill Cook will officially announce his re-election bid. Two Democrats are vying to replace him, including former office-holder Stan White. And Democrat Keith Crisco will formally announce his campaign to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers in the 2nd Congressional District, focusing on “the work he did to bring jobs to N.C. as state commerce secretary,” according to an announcement.

ALSO MONDAY: Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to announce Monday the date of a special election to replace U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, ending months of uncertainty for would-be successors and for voters in the 12th District. Read more here.

RELATED -- From AP: Lawmakers come and go from North Carolina's General Assembly and congressional delegation. Now some elected leaders wonder whether it's time to change how to replace those who resign midterm or die in office. The legislature directed an elections oversight committee to examine the rules for filling vacancies among the state's U.S. House seats and to the state House and Senate, and report back by early next year. Read more here.

MORE ON THE UNEMPLOYMENT STORY: The Senate will immediately take up extension of federal jobless benefits when it gets back to work on Monday after its holiday break, and the vote will put Sen. Kay Hagan at the center of a new political fracas.

The North Carolina Democrat, who faces a tough re-election fight this year, has convinced the Senate Democratic leadership to insert a provision into the jobless bill that would restore North Carolina’s eligibility for long-term federal unemployment benefits. The state lost the federal funds last summer when the legislature reduced state benefits.

Hagan says she’s taking action to fix a problem caused by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature. State Republicans counter that she’s stepping in at the last minute to rescue her flagging reelection campaign. And in the end, Congress might decide to do nothing. Read more here.

THE SLEEPER CAMPAIGN -- N.C. SUPREME COURT: The Republicans’ all-out effort to defeat U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat from Greensboro, is the biggest political battle looming in North Carolina in 2014, but a handful of other campaigns will determine who become the most powerful judges in the state. The seven elections are in the appellate courts. Most significantly, four are on the seven-member N.C. Supreme Court, where registered Republican justices have long held a 4-3 majority. Read more here.

BIG HEADLINE -- BERGER’S OFFICE WROTE LAW TO BENEFIT ONE COMPANY, AUDITOR SAYS IT’S LEGAL: N.C. Senate leaders’ approach to a controversial Jordan Lake cleanup project would have been illegal for almost any other unit of state government, according to a letter by State Auditor Beth Wood. But, Wood wrote, the state’s elected leaders are not bound by the rules meant to “increase competition and thus help the state get the best product at the best rate.”

By writing exacting, specific budget language, legislators seemingly guaranteed that the $1.4 million “pilot project,” which will attempt to improve water quality by stirring the lake, will go to Medora Corp. Email records show the North Dakota company worked with Senate leader Phil Berger’s office and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to secure the contract months ahead of the public bidding process. Read more here.

DHHS: SOME KNEW OF MEDICAID BREACH SOONER: From AP -- North Carolina health officials have clarified precisely when they first learned that cards with the personal information of nearly 49,000 children receiving Medicaid benefits had been mailed to the wrong addresses.

State Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Ricky Diaz told The Associated Press on Friday the agency first learned about the massive privacy breach the prior day. On Saturday, the agency issued a new statement saying some state employees had actually been aware of the issue days earlier. Read more here.

REDISTRICTING BACK IN COURT MONDAY: Groups unhappy with the North Carolina legislative and congressional districts drawn three years ago by the General Assembly have asked the state Supreme Court to delay this year’s primary elections. ... On Monday, state Supreme Court justices are scheduled to hear arguments in Raleigh about the legislative and congressional districts adopted by the Republican legislature two years ago. The districts are intended to be used through the 2020 elections. Read more here.

LIFE AFTER OFFICE: WNCN caught up with former Gov. Bev Perdue -- “Former Gov. Bev Perdue says she's loving life outside the political bubble -- focusing on what matters most to her: education. Perdue splits her time between the Triangle and the coast, and spent the fall semester as a distinguished visiting fellow at Duke University.

“Since leaving office, she founded DigiLEARN: Digital Learning Institute, a non-profit funded by two nationally renowned foundations to accelerate digital learning at all ages. "I am working with technology now, because I think technology can change the learning platform for every kid in our state," she said.” Read more here.

CHARTER SCHOOLS’ BOOM: The next two weeks will determine how rapidly North Carolina’s charter-school movement expands, at a time when supporters say the schools are giving families more choices and critics say they’re harming traditional public schools. On Thursday, the State Board of Education will vote on whether to give final approval to 26 charter schools – four in Wake County, one in Durham, one in Harnett County and 11 in the Charlotte area – that want to open this fall. It would mark the state’s largest single-year expansion of charter schools since the program was in its infancy in the late 1990s.

Next week, the state Office of Charter Schools will recommend which of the 71 charter schools that have applied to open in 2015 should go forward for further review. Those applicants includes eight in Wake County, eight in Durham and 31 in Charlotte and surrounding areas. Read more here.

QUICK HITS --

A deep dive: Inside the Koch brother’s political network. Read more here.

Goolsby: ‘First-degree murders deserve death penalty.’ Read more here.

Survey: How is the new tax law affecting you? Read more here.

Political maneuvering to replace Pete Brunstetter. Read more here.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service