Morning Memo: Democratic chairman in hot water after ‘endorsement’ of Cooper

Posted by John Frank on June 17, 2014 

N.C. Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller is apologizing after he made remarks at the party convention and fundraising dinner that referred to Attorney General Roy Cooper as the state’s “next governor.”

Durham Democrat Ken Spaulding, another contender for the party’s 2016 nomination, complained in a letter to Voller that it appeared he was endorsing Cooper at the June 7 events. The party’s African-American Caucus expressed similar concern.

Voller, a controversial chairman who has faced challenges in the post, said he is not supporting Cooper and suggested it was a mistake “in the excitement of the moment” at the party events.

“There was no offense meant and I’m sorry if any offense was taken,” Voller said Monday evening. “We are taking appropriate measures to not create that mistake in the future.”

The issue of political parties taking sides in primaries is a sensitive one. Republican activists fought about it at their party convention earlier this month after Gov. Pat McCrory announced his support for House Speaker Thom Tillis in the U.S. Senate race. As governor, McCrory is widely seen as the de facto head of the state GOP.

In his letter, Spaulding wrote to “express our displeasure” on behalf of his supporters about the “perceived endorsement” of Cooper.

“The people of this state have not had the opportunity to have their voices heard as to whom they choose to be their party’s nominee for governor,” the letter reads. “The ignoring of the people’s voices and choices are the very reason why so many of our citizens are fed up with partisan politics and politicians.”

Spaulding didn’t attend the party’s convention.

*** Get plenty more North Carolina politics below in the Dome Morning Memo. ***

TODAY IN POLTICS: Gov. Pat McCrory will attend the Grifols grand opening in Clayton at 9:45 a.m. and later attend the N.C. Association of Realtors legislative forum at 12:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel in Raleigh.

The Senate budget subcommittees all meet at 8:30 a.m. to scrutinize the House budget, even though they didn’t meet in public to look at their own spending plan.

A Senate environmental committee will take a vote on the coal ash bill at 11 a.m.

Both chambers convene at 3 p.m.

#NCSEN --- The headlines from the U.S. Senate campaign trail.

TILLIS RAISES MONEY IN D.C.: With the day off in Raleigh on Monday, House Speaker Thom Tillis raised money for his U.S. Senate campaign at a dinner in Washington, according to an invitation. The hosts for the event at the Trattoria Alberto restaurant included Chris Cox, Marcel Dubois, Pat Raffaniello and Matt Schlapp. N.C. Sen. Richard Burr served as the special guest.

Cox is the executive director of the National Rifle Association, which backed Tillis in the Republican primary campaign. Schlapp is a former lobbyist at Koch Industries, the company owned by Charles and David Koch, billionaire conservative donors whose various political allies are spending big money to help get Tillis elected.

Democrat Kay Hagan is attacking Tillis for his ties to the Koch brothers, even though she is also getting a boost from outside money in the race.

#NCGA --- A roundup of news from the N.C. General Assembly.

THE TOP STORY – COAL ASH BILL SETS AGGRESSIVE TIMELINE, DRAWS MIXED REACTION: Leaders of the state Senate who unveiled a coal ash bill Monday said it would be the most comprehensive regulation of the power-plant residue in the country. Environmentalists said it was better than the governor’s plan, but still had loopholes that could endanger water supplies.

The bill would close all 33 coal ash storage ponds in the state within 15 years – twice as fast as Duke Energy says it would be able to – set up an appointed commission to oversee closure plans, impose additional safeguards, and encourage the exploration of alternate uses of coal ash in construction as a way to dispose of the more than 100 million tons of the material – far more than can be buried in landfills in North Carolina or nearby.

Republican senators and the head of North Carolina’s environmental protection agency were cautiously receptive to the bill, which was presented to them in a committee on Monday by Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Sen. Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville.

Duke Energy called the proposed closure timeline an “aggressive” plan that would present “significant challenges” for the company. The biggest challenge would be finding a place to safely store the coal ash. Read more here for a comparison of the plans from the Senate and governor.

WHERE IT PLAYED: A1 in Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Hendersonville Times-News (home to bill sponsor Sen. Tom Apodaca).

LOUD, DISRUPTIVE PROTESTS RETURN ... AND SO DO THE ARRESTS: Days after persuading a Superior Court judge to suspend some new rules for the N.C. Legislative Building, protesters were back on Monday, raising their voices by many decibels against a state budget and Republican-controlled agenda they describe as “extremist.”

As the demonstrators tested the breadth of the order signed Monday by Judge Carl Fox about the overly broad definition of “disturbing behavior,” General Assembly police checked with their attorneys on the depth of their authority to remove the noisemakers from the state building.

About 20 minutes after the N.C. Senate went into session, law enforcement officers began wrapping plastic cuffs around the wrists of 20 demonstrators who had continued singing, chanting and speechmaking after being asked to quietly leave the rotunda area outside the General Assembly chambers.

The scene was reminiscent of last summer, when more than 900 demonstrators were arrested for similar actions. Read more here.

PRESERVATION CREDITS ON THE LINE: The future of a popular state tax break that has helped communities across the state save historic homes and revitalize downtowns could be decided this week.

As House and Senate lawmakers negotiate their differing state budgets one of the line items they’ll be looking at is the Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program, which provides a 20 percent to 30 percent tax credit to those who restore historic homes and buildings. The credit is set to expire at the end of this year. House lawmakers want to extend the credit, but their counterparts in the Senate do not. Read more here.

QUOTE: Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca removed three House bills from the calendar Monday. Two were sent back to committee and another delayed for a week. “Some of the bills you’re not going to see them again,” he said afterward, even as he suggested he wasn’t trying to send a message with the move.

#NCPOL --- More political news from North Carolina.

COOPER PRESSURED: Church leaders in North Carolina want Attorney General Roy Cooper to stop defending the state’s amendment against same-sex marriage and other laws that they say makes it unconstitutional for the state to recognize, and for pastors to perform, same-sex marriages or civil unions. Read more here.

WORTH NOTING: The John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank cited often by Republican lawmakers and other policy leaders has issued its new “Agenda 2014: A candidate’s guide to key issues in North Carolina public policy.” Expect to hear it on a campaign stump near you. See it here.

QUICK LOOK --- More headlines from across the state.

Rep. Brandon may run for mayor of High Point. Read more here.

Foxx, McHenry won’t seek House GOP posts. Read more here.

Obama to sign order extending LGBT protections. Read more here.

Religion rules at school approved by N.C. lawmakers. Read more here.

Three companies bring at least 3,900 jobs to South Carolina, just across the N.C. border. Read more here.

N.C. charter officials voice optimism about August opening of 25 schools. 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