The Democrats’ screeching headline said the government shutdown cost North Carolina's economy up to $340 million. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee pointed the finger at Thom Tillis, Mark Harris, Greg Brannon and Heather Grant, all Republican candidates for U.S. Senate who supported the shutdown.
But Jim Morrill at the Observer reports that the $340 million isn't right. According to John Mousseau of Moody's Analytics, the real figure is $95 million.
Why the discrepancy? According to DSCC spokesman Matt Canter, the larger figure was based on national information provided by Moody's, based on figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and used by Pew researchers and published by outlets such as USA Today.
But Mousseau at Moody's told Morrill that said the shutdown cost North Carolina $95 million. Still a lot of money, certainly, but not $340 million. Apparently that state information wasn't available to the DSCC at the time it sent its release, which was reported on at least one N.C. media site. "What both numbers show is that the GOP shutdown caused unnecessary damage to North Carolina's economy and should never have happened," Canter said.
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***A federal appeals court hears a major North Carolina case and the U.S. Senate race heats up -- all below in the Dome Morning Memo .***
TODAY IN POLITICS: A coalition of groups critical of the Republican agenda will stage a "Halloween March" outside the governor's mansion Wednesday. The event is part of Progress NC's continued push to get Gov. Pat McCrory to "clean house" at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services amid controversies about hiring and policy making. Marchers are expected to carry brooms and cleaning supplies. It starts at 5:30 p.m.
Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a state economic development board meeting at noon and convene an his education cabinet at 1 p.m. (An earlier version incorrectly stated that he didn’t issue a public calendar.)
THE BIG STORY N.C. abortion license plate case before U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: AP -- A federal appeals court in Virginia is set to hear arguments on whether North Carolina can offer anti-abortion license plates without making plates available to people who hold the opposite view.
U.S. District Judge James Fox ruled last December that offering just the “Choose Life” license plate violates the First Amendment. The state appealed, and a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond will hear arguments from both sides Wednesday.
North Carolina lawmakers approved the “Choose Life” plate in 2011. They rejected proposals to also offer plates with the messages “Trust Women” and “Respect Choice.”In 2004, the Richmond-based appeals court upheld a South Carolina judge's ruling that the “Choose Life” plates in that state were unconstitutional.
AFP AD HELPS REPUBLICANS IN SENATE RACE, amid distracting GOP primary: The ad campaign provides an opportunity for Republicans to change the chemistry of a race that has been going Hagan’s way. In recent months, it has been the Republicans who have been on the defensive – defending an unpopular shutdown of the government while polls suggest that both the GOP legislature and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s popularity have been sliding.
“This is a Senate seat that Republicans really do need to win to have any chance of getting back a majority in the Senate,” said Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at N.C. State University. “North Carolina was for a while viewed as very competitive. I think there is a sense that it has slipped away a bit from the Republicans over the past few months.'”
“Here is kind of a lifeline, a real opportunity to change the momentum,” Taylor said. “It works particularly well in North Carolina because the Obamacare numbers are not that great here.”
HAGAN REACTS TO THE AD CAMPAIGN: In a teleconference held before the new TV campaign was released, Hagan stood by her support for the health care law, saying it would provide health insurance to millions of people with preexisting conditions and ultimately help control health care costs. She said it will also help prevent people from being driven into bankruptcy by huge medical bills, or being unable to change jobs because they can’t obtain health insurance.
“I am not concerned with what outside special interests have to say, where outside money is coming into North Carolina,” Hagan said. “I am talking every day to people in North Carolina about the issues that are important to them, and I am going to continue focusing on my number one priority and their number one priority, which is jobs and the economy and getting this economy on the rebound.” Read more here.
FORMER GOV. HUNT URGES SUPPORT FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: AP -- Former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt is urging business, political and civic leaders to invest in early childhood education, saying children should start school ready to learn.
The News & Record of Greensboro reports Hunt spoke Tuesday at a breakfast focusing on how to improve early childhood education in Guilford County.
Hunt urged the leaders to understand the first 2,000 days of a child's life are critical to shaping who they will be. He called investing in early childhood education, "morally important and economically the smartest thing we could do."
David Lawrence Jr., president of the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation in Florida, cited data showing more than one in three Guilford County third graders can't read with a minimum proficiency — and that many children will not catch up. Read more here.
McCRORY'S EXPENSIVE BATHROOM RENOVATIONS OFF THE LIST: AP -- Some pricey bathroom renovations at the Executive Mansion have been dropped from Gov. Pat McCrory's plan for spending taxpayer dollars to repair North Carolina government buildings.
A legislative panel signed off Tuesday on plans from McCrory and the University of North Carolina system to spend $150 million on scores of building renovations. Read more here.
SHERIFF SEIZES STATE RECORDS: The Wake County Sheriff's Department has seized public records from the state Labor Department in connection with a mishap at the North Carolina State Fair last week that left three people seriously injured.
Labor Department spokeswoman Dolores Quesenberry said Tuesday that sheriff's investigators served the agency with a court order to turn over all files related to its safety inspections and investigation of the "Vortex" ride. Labor staff kept no copies of the records, she said.
The order signed by Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul G. Gessner was issued the day after The Associated Press filed a public records request for the Labor Department's files related to the Vortex. Those files are supposed to be open to public inspection under the state's public records law.
Wake Sheriff Donnie Harrison said he sought the order as part of his investigation and that it had nothing to do with denying news media efforts to review the files. Read more here.
RETAILERS LAMENT END OF APPLIANCE TAX HOLIDAY: North Carolina appliance retailers are hoping to cash in on the state’s last tax-exempt weekend for qualified Energy Star appliances, which they say has become one of their busiest weekends since it was introduced five years ago.
“We’ll do four or five times as much business this weekend as we do in a normal weekend,” said Roddey Player, CEO of Queen City Audio, Video & Appliances. “It’s a big, big deal.”
The N.C. Department of Revenue estimates the appliance program resulted in $1.6 million worth of lost tax revenue statewide last year. ... (The) programs are ending as a result of tax changes this year passed by the N.C. General Assembly. Opponents said the tax-exempt weekends cost the state revenue and just shifted consumers’ purchases from other times to those weeks. South Carolina doesn’t offer an equivalent weekend for appliances. Read more here.
COALITION MAKES PUSH FOR IMMIGRATION BILL An unorthodox coalition of conservative leaders – pastors, tech moguls, tea party farmers and the sheriff from Fresno County, Calif. – converged Tuesday on Washington to make the conservative case for an immigration overhaul.
It’s likely to be the last, best effort to convince Congress to vote on immigration legislation before lawmakers are consumed by the re-election campaign next year.
The massive effort comprises more than 600 conservatives from across the country who spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill meeting with about 150 members of Congress, primarily Republicans, and urging them to press their leaders to act on immigration this year.
With remnants of the partisan government-shutdown battle lingering, tackling immigration could be a chance for lawmakers to do something positive, said Bruce Josten, the head of government affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
WHERE THE BILL STANDS: This summer, the Senate passed a bill that would strengthen border security and provide a path to citizenship. But the Republican-led House of Representatives appears to have no intention of taking up the Senate’s proposal. Instead, it’s focused on a series of bills that tackle specific aspects of the debate, but the GOP leadership has yet to bring the measures to the floor for a vote. Read more here.
STATE HEALTH PLAN TRIES TO REMEDY INSURANCE PROBLEMS ... Points finger at contractor: Weeks after the complaints began, State Health Plan officials are more readily acknowledging the situation and pledging to remedy the issues that are preventing hundreds of state employees and retirees from enrolling in an insurance plan.
Mona Moon, the plan administrator, said the state expects its members to wait 30 seconds or less when calling for enrollment assistance, but some are waiting for more than an hour.
“From our perspective, that’s completely unacceptable,” she said in a recent interview. “We wanted to make sure we are providing the best level of service.” Read more here.
McCRORY'S MOMENT OF BIPARTISANSHIP: At a Greensboro event featuring three former governors (Mike Easley was unable to attend) and Gov. Pat McCrory, the News & Record reports --- All the former governors drove themselves to the event, but McCrory’s status as current office holder merits a driver and security staff. Hunt drove all the way from Wilson and when he reached Blandwood, had some difficulty parking his car.
Republican McCrory noticed, asked his Democratic predecessor if he could help and tossed the keys to an aide who parked the car for the former governor: Bipartisanship at its best. Read more here.
N.C. STATE SELLS FOREST: The trustees of N.C. State University’s Endowment Fund have agreed to sell the 79,000-acre Hofmann Forest near Jacksonville to an Illinois-based agribusiness company for $150 million, the university announced Tuesday. The buyer is a family-owned, multistate firm headed by a third-generation farmer named Jerry Walker, NCSU officials said. Read more here.
MORE UNC REACTION TO POPE CENTER REPORT: Hint, they aren't fans. Read more here.
NATIONAL DEMOCRATS SEND HELP TO NORTH CAROLINA: From Roll Call -- Senate Democrats have quietly started implementing their plan to keep the majority by transferring funds to state parties with top races in 2014.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has begun making monthly transfers to these organizations to help construct first-rate, on-the-ground affiliates ahead of the midterms. ... Battle-tested communications operatives have already been sent to state parties in Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — homes of some of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats seeking re-election. Including those three states ... the DSCC has transferred a total of $84,000 to state parties as of Sept. 30, according to figures compiled by Political MoneyLine. Read more here.
DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS URGE BLACK BAPTISTS TO TAKE ACTION: From the News & Record -- The “amens” at Tuesday’s gathering of the state’s largest body of black Baptists said they have had it with the policies out of Raleigh these past nine months. Read more here.
HUGH MCCOLL SUPPORTS WATT NOMINATION: Former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl has publicly thrown his support behind fellow Charlottean U.S. Rep. Mel Watt in his fight to be confirmed as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Read more here.
MIKE MCINTYRE VOTES WITH SPEAKER BOEHNER: From a vote analysis by Bloomberg News -- House Speaker John Boehner rarely casts floor votes, following his office's tradition. When the Ohio Republican has voted this year, Arizona Democrat Ron Barber sided with him more often than not, while Republican Walter Jones of North Carolina usually didn't.
Barber, whose district President Obama lost in the 2012 election, is among a small number of House Democrats who at times have aligned with Republicans as they project political independence ahead of potentially difficult re-election campaigns next year.
Jones and a handful of Republican colleagues, meanwhile, exemplify party members with libertarian views who have complicated Boehner's management of the House by pushing him to take a harder line against Obama on fiscal policy and showing a willingness to break with the speaker.
Barber, who's serving his first full term, sided with Boehner on 10 of the 16 votes by the speaker. That's the most among the House's 200 Democratic members, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Twelve other Democrats, including Reps. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah, voted the same as Boehner at least half of those times. Read more here.
NORTH CAROLINA MAKES ANOTHER LIST: This time it’s USA Today’s 14 political races to watch in 2014. Read more here.
PERSONNEL FILE: The N.C. Democratic Party announced it hired Marjorie Fields Harris as its constituency outreach coordinator. Harris started her political career at the Democratic National Committee in the 1980s and ran Yvonne Lewis Holley’s successful bid for the N.C. House in 2012, according to the party. “Marjorie will work hand in hand with our eight statewide caucuses to build an effective, organized auxiliary operation that will help re-elect Senator Kay Hagan and Democrats up and down the ballot in 2014,” said Robert Dempsey, the party’s executive director.
Margo Knight Metzger, a public relations manager at the N.C. Division of Tourism, is departing to become executive director of the N.C. Brewers Guild, a trade association that represents the state's rapidly growing craft beer industry. Metzger emailed colleagues and friends about the move Tuesday, saying it came with mixed emotions. She official departs at the Thanksgiving holiday.