Under the Dome

October 23, 2013

Morning Memo: Renee Ellmers’ no good, very bad week

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers is off to a tough start this week. Her Republican voters are wavering on their support. Two Democratic opponents have emerged. A CNN interview Monday ended in a curt tiff. And now this: her husband reported an AR-15 rifle stolen from the family’s home in Dunn last week.

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers is off to a tough start this week. Her Republican voters are wavering on their support. Two Democratic opponents have emerged. A CNN interview Monday ended in a tiff. And now this: her husband reported an AR-15 rifle stolen from the family’s home in Dunn last week.

The weapon had been left leaning against a gun locker in an unlocked garage on Kingsway Drive, according to a police report. The rifle, a gun case and a GPS, with a cumulative value of $1,100, were reported stolen, according to Chief J.D. Pope. Police think the theft happened on the night of Oct. 15.

The weapon belonged to Ellmers’ college-aged son, he confirmed. Ellmers was in Washington, D.C., at the time of the theft. “Gun safety is of the utmost importance in their household, which is exactly why she’s so upset and doesn't understand how this happened,” an Ellmers spokesman said.

The police report did not indicate whether there was any ammunition in or near the gun or whether there was a lock on it. And unless the gun has been stolen by a minor, it appears unlikely that the reportedly unsecured status of the gun would open its owners to any charge under state or federal gun laws. Read more here.

*** Find much more North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLTICS: Gov. Pat McCrory lists one event on his public calendar: a ribbon cutting at Hospira in Rocky Mount schedule for 1 p.m. State Reps. Skip Stam (a Republican) and Rick Glazier (a Democrat) will discuss abortion at a noon event Thursday at the Campbell Law School on West Morgan Street in Raleigh. The talk is titled “On Privacy & Safety: A Discussion on Abortion in North Carolina.” It is open to the public.

TOMORROW’S HEADLINE: A government accountability organization will release a national study Wednesday looking at states that have outsourced their economic development functions to private groups. Good Jobs First, which is critical of such arrangements, says such arrangements create scandals, instead of jobs. The report comes as North Carolina looks to create a public-private partnership outside of the Commerce Department that will help recruit jobs to the state. “We found very troubling patterns of abuse when states privatize what is already a corporate-dominated system,” the group’s executive director Greg LeRoy said in a statement. “Our findings are cautionary for states with and without privatized agencies.”

RELATED: Commerce officials pitch privatization plan in Asheville. Read more here.

NEXT PITCH TO NYC CONSULTANTS, JOURNALISTS: Amid changes in how the state recruits new jobs, the N.C. Commerce Department and the heads of the state’s three urban regional economic development partnerships will work together next month to pitch the state to location consultants and journalists in New York. Read more here.

McCRORY’S MUHAMMAD ALI MOMENT: From WRAL -- "We accomplished more in the first 10 months than any administration has in the past 20 years," McCrory said.

ALSO ‘FANTASTIC’: More from the story -- "McCrory also promised to announce by next May "fantastic proposals" to benefit public school teachers and touted his administration's accomplishments during his first 10 months in office." Read more here.

REPUBLICAN’S NEW CAMPAIGN AD MIMICS BARACK OBAMA : It’s not everyday you see a Republican candidate adopt President Barack Obama’s campaign theme. Edwin Peacock’s new campaign ad in the Charlotte mayor’s race does just that. It’s titled “Forward.” Now, one candidate doesn’t own the word, or the concept — and it wasn’t a new message when Obama used it either — but it’s an interesting juxtaposition to see the “Forward” message put forth by a Republican in the city that hosted the Democratic National Convention. See the ad here.

WHY HEATHER GRANT IS RUNNING FOR U.S. SENATE: NCTeaParty.com is posting well-produced video interviews with Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate. The latest is Heather Grant, a Wilkesboro family nurse practitioner who recently left the military. The most poignant question comes when she is asked about her role as a potential spoiler, splitting the tea party vote with rival Greg Brannon. Both are outspoken constitutional conservatives. Grant’s reply: “When I entered this race, I had no idea who was running. It made no difference to me. I don't think that (the other GOP candidates) can beat Kay Hagan. I don't think they resonate with enough independent voters. ... I'm like everybody else that lives up and down the street from me.” Watch the entire 20-minute interview here.

MORE #NCSEN: A recent CBS News report finding that candidates make loans to their campaigns and charge interest is raising more questions about Thom Tillis’ $250,000 loan to his U.S. Senate campaign. Is Tillis earning interest on his loan? His spokesman says no.

CAN WE SELL THE EXECUTIVE MANSION? Columnist Mark Washburn -- This does not surprise anyone: After word got out about the plans, Gov. Pat McCrory backed off from ordering a $230,000 remodel of upstairs bathrooms at the Executive Mansion in Raleigh.

Here’s what is gobsmacking: There are six bathrooms upstairs at the governor’s mansion. In my house and yours, you’d need to have bathrooms off closets to reach six. I couldn’t afford to keep six bathrooms supplied with toothbrushes.

We can’t afford pay raises for teachers and have whacked benefits for the unemployed, but we can afford a house with as many potties as Bank of America Stadium? Read more here.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby will give the keynote address next week at a conference titled, “Overcriminalization in the Tar Heel State?” The conservative Manhattan Institute is hosting the Oct. 30 event at the Cardinal Club in downtown Raleigh. It will look at criminal trends in North Carolina and the broad discretion given to prosecutors. Newby’s speech will be followed by a panel discussion that includes Josh Howard, a lawyer and chairman of the N.C. State Board of Elections, and Jeanette Doran, the executive director of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law. The event begins at 6 p.m.

HAGAN TO HEADLINE NYC EVENT: U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan will help EMILY’s List put the focus on women candidates at the group’s event in New York City next week, Politico reports. Read more here.

OP-ED: Burr's secret filibuster of judicial nominee is troubling. Read it here.

GAY MARRIAGE ADVOCATES ‘WAGING GUERRILLA WARFARE’: The push to legalize gay marriage in North Carolina is drawing a sharp reaction from critics. Tami Fitzgerald at the N.C. Values Coalition: "The Campaign for Southern Equality is waging guerrilla warfare against the people of North Carolina and the registers of deeds who were elected to uphold the state's laws. I caution the state's registers of deeds that any recognition of a same-sex union is a violation of North Carolina's state Constitution."

THE CROWDED RACE TO FILL N.C. HOUSE SEAT: A Democratic committee will meet Thursday to fill state Sen. Valerie Foushee’s recently vacated N.C. House District 50 seat.

Two additional Durham County candidates have joined the slate – Danielle Adams and Travis A. Phelps – bringing the number to seven. Chapel Hill Town Council member Laurin Easthom, businessman Tommy McNeill, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools administrator Graig Meyer, lawyer Drew Nelson and Orange County Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier previously announced their interest in the seat. Read more here.

LA TIMES: In North Carolina, a Democratic state official speaks out: Roy Cooper is in a very lonely place. He's a Democratic state attorney general surrounded by conservative Republicans who control North Carolina state government.

Now those Republicans have put Cooper in an awkward spot. He has publicly condemned GOP-sponsored laws on voter identification and gay marriage, yet must defend those same laws in court. Further complicating matters, Cooper plans to run for governor in 2016. That has prompted Republican charges that he's more interested in being governor than upholding North Carolina's laws. Read more here.

A LOOK AT MARK MEADOWS COVERAGE IN NORTH CAROLINA: The Columbia Journalism Review looks at how the North Carolina Republican who was a key player in the government shutdown was covered in his district. The piece is dubbed “Mountain Pass.” Read it here.

EXPERT SAYS CRIME LAB MAKING IMPROVEMENTS: North Carolina's crime lab has made great strides in rebuilding its credibility since a stinging audit questioned blood testing analysis for scores of cases, a forensics expert said Tuesday. But he said maintaining a high standard is an ongoing process. "The quality is improved but when you're talking about quality issues, it never stops," said Peter Marone, a retired Virginia state crime lab director who heads a panel that monitors the lab's work and makes recommendations. "That bar is constantly being raised." Read more here.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO ELLIE KINNAIRD: The former state senator has a parting message. Read it here.

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