Morning Memo: Status quo survives; today’s focus turns to teachers

Posted by John Frank on May 7, 2014 

The primary election in North Carolina on Tuesday yielded few surprises as the status quo survived challenges from all directions.

House Speaker Thom Tillis, the candidate everyone thought would win the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, won – with a solid 46 percent of the vote. The race drew national attention and only will continue to garner headlines ahead of the November match up with Democrat Kay Hagan.

Here are three takeaways from the night – and get all the election results below:

1. STATUS QUO WINS: In addition to the Tillis win against a tea party challenge in the Senate race, three other congressional Republican incumbents turned away challengers: Renee Ellmers in the 2nd District, Robert Pittenger in the 9th District and Walter Jones in the 3rd District. And much of the same at the legislative level where Sen. Bob Rucho held on to his Charlotte area seat and state Rep. Robert Brawley, an outspoken thorn in the Republican party’s side appeared to lose to an establishment-backed challenger.

2. THE BEST RACE: “American Idol” contestant Clay Aiken entered the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District months ago with great fanfare, and an expectation that he would do well with his recognizable name and access to big donors.

The campaign proved less-than-Idol worthy and his opponent Keith Crisco put up a good fight and leveled solid attacks on Aiken. On Tuesday, it proved to be one of the closest races, with Aiken up by a few hundreds votes, and Crisco had yet to concede.

3. A DEMOCRATIC PROTEST? Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan won her primary against two candidates who didn’t campaign – but she only took 77 percent. More than 100,000 Democrats voted for someone else. What does it mean? Well, not all Democrats are happy with Hagan, as we’ve seen, with some believing she isn’t liberal enough on the issues. And her poll numbers aren’t great, meaning independents who voted in the Democratic primary maybe didn’t support her and maybe won’t in November.

It’s not an insurrection by any means but it’s one of the more intriguing numbers from the night.

*** The other big number for today: 181 – the days until Nov. 4, Election Day. Much more election news below in the Dome Morning Memo. And check Dome later today for results from the Dome Election Contest.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest will roll out dueling education plans Wednesday in one of the more intriguing splits between the two Republicans to date.

McCrory will make a “major education announcement” at 10 a.m. in Greensboro. It comes as he prepares to roll out his second budget proposal, which is expected to include 2 percent across-the-board pay hikes for teachers and state employees, a move designed to quell (at least in part) vocal opposition in the public education community to the Republican legislative agenda.

GOP leaders in the state House want to do the same. But with recent state revenue projections it’s unclear where McCrory will find the money to offer raises without cutting elsewhere in the education realm.

Forest will unveil a “new fund” to supplement teacher pay, according to his office, though such a suggestion raises many questions – such as where the money will come from, how it will work and most importantly will it make a difference? He will make a presentation to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee at 2 p.m. in Raleigh.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, a top Republican, will join him at the announcement, adding more intrigue about whether the Senate and House are split on the biggest issue this legislative session.

THE PRIMARY RESULTS --

U.S. SENATE: Thom Tillis emerged as a clear victor Tuesday in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, overpowering a tea party challenge with help from Washington power-brokers who saw him as the best candidate to challenge Democrat Kay Hagan in November. Read more here.

N.C. SUPREME COURT: In a nonpartisan N.C. Supreme Court race that brought controversy over outside money and negative campaign ads, partial returns showed a Democrat and a Republican as the top vote-getters Tuesday in a three-way primary contest. Read more here.

2ND DISTRICT DEMOCRATIC: The battle between Keith Crisco, a moderate, business-friendly Democrat, and former “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken came down to a very slim margin Tuesday night: As the vote-count neared completion, Aiken led by fewer than 400 votes. Read more here.

2ND DISTRICT REPUBLICAN: Incumbent U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers turned back a Republican Party challenger to advance to this fall’s general election in North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District. Read more here.

3RD DISTRICT GOP: Incumbent Walter Jones fends off another challenge from Washington. Read more here.

6TH DISTRICT GOP: From the News & Record: The battle to represent the Republican party in the 6th Congressional District race will be decided July 15. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, it appears that Phil Berger Jr., of Eden, and Mark Walker, of Greensboro, will meet in a runoff to win the Republican nomination for the seat now held by Republican Howard Coble. Read more here.

7TH DISTRICT GOP: Republican David Rouzer gets another chance to win the North Carolina congressional district he lost two years ago by a razor-thin margin. Read more here.

12TH DISTRICT DEMOCRATIC: Strong support outside Mecklenburg County lifted state Rep. Alma Adams of Greensboro to a win in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the 12th Congressional District, leaving her poised to succeed longtime U.S. Rep. Mel Watt of Charlotte. Read more here.

STATE LEGISLATURE: A number of incumbent legislators faced primary challenges Tuesday, and some appeared in danger of losing their seats in partial, unofficial returns. Read more here.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER OF DEEDS: Former Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton edged out incumbent Deborah Brooks to become the next Orange County Register of Deeds on Tuesday. He announced earlier this year that, if elected, he would violate state law and the Register of Deeds’ oath of office by issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Read more here.

MORE FROM ELECTION NIGHT ---

WHAT IT ALL MEANS – ROB CHRISTENSEN: This was a good election for the big boys in Washington, for deep pockets and for party connections.

Voters tended not to be in a rebellious mood Tuesday, generally giving their votes to candidates who were well within the mainstream of their party. The Republican candidates who won tended to be deeply conservative, well-financed, but also politically seasoned and well-connected to their national parties. This was an insiders’ election. Read more here.

WEBSITE GLITCHES GARBLE RESULTS: Election returns from Tuesday’s primary were marred by numerous glitches with the North Carolina Board of Elections web site, with vote totals sometimes vanishing intermittently. The problem began shortly after polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Read more here.

THE VIEW FROM WASHINGTON: Politico on the North Carolina Senate race. Read it here. Meet Thom Tillis, from the Washington Post. Read it here. NYT: GOP establishment gets its win in N.C. Read it here. Wall Street Journal: For GOP leaders, no news is good news. Read it here.

OTHER HEADLINES ---

CLIMATE CHANGE THE BIG HEADLINE IN WASHINGTON: Saying that climate change has “moved firmly into the present,” a federal scientific panel Tuesday released a report cataloging the impacts of such changes, saying some would actually be beneficial “but many more are detrimental.” Read more here.

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT READY TO MOVE TOWARD PRIVATE: From the Triad Business Journal: All the pieces are in place for the N.C. Commerce Department to operate as a public-private partnership, a process that first began in the early months of 2013.

The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina Inc., which was registered with the N.C. Secretary of State in September 2013, has been granted 501(c)3 status by the Internal Revenue Service and is set to operate as a nonprofit organization, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce.

All that remains for the Commerce Department to operate as a public-private organization is for the N.C. General Assembly to vote on enabling legislation in its short session, which begins later this month, that will allow the nonprofit to contract with the state. Read more here.

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