Under the Dome

January 21, 2014

Morning Memo: Hagan posts another $2M fundraising quarter

Democrat Kay Hagan's campaign will announce Tuesday that she raised more than $2 million in the final three months of 2013. The solid haul is sure to boost her financial advantage against the six Republicans vying to replace her.

Democrat Kay Hagan’s campaign will announce today she raised more than $2 million in the final three months of 2013.

The solid haul is sure to boost her financial advantage against the six Republicans vying to replace her. Hagan’s campaign says it started the 2014 election year with $6.8 million in the bank.

The total in the fourth quarter means she posted two $2 million fundraising reports in 2013. The Greensboro lawmaker reported $5.4 million on hand at the end of September.

Hagan’s campaign reported more than 15,000 individual donors with 89 percent contributing low-dollar amounts (which the campaign didn’t define).

“These resources will ensure the Kay’s message about her strong track record of bipartisan results can reach voters all across North Carolina and carry the campaign to victory this year,” campaign manager Preston Elliott said in a statement.

The campaign will file its campaign finance report at the end of the month. Hagan’s Republican rivals have not yet filed, nor offered a peek at their numbers.

Her top Republican challenger, House Speaker Thom Tillis, has set a roughly $6 million goal for his primary challenge and $12 million for the campaign.

Tillis raised $811,675 in his first full fundraising period, July through September. But it didn’t keep on pace with his expectations and left him with $838,717 in the bank.

The candidate’s spending helps determine how much campaign advertising and infrastructure they can afford to mount a successful campaign, but it doesn’t reflect all the money expected in the race. Outside interests already are spending millions to influence voters in the race.

*** Gov. Pat McCrory looks to set the tone for his second year in office. Read about it and more below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory will hold a press conference at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday at the executive mansion with the top leaders of his cabinet agencies. It comes as he looks to hit the reset button at the start of his second term after a rocky record in his first year.

McCrory is expected to preview his agenda for 2014 in the event – much of which he has signaled in recent weeks, such as teacher pay and energy exploration. (More on McCrory below.)

On Tuesday, nine legislative committees will meet, led by two health care focused committees at 9 a.m. and then 1 p.m. A House committee looking at the state’s drone policy will also meet at 1 p.m.

3 MORE QUESTIONS McCRORY WILL FACE: The governor will want to put the focus on his agenda but other big stories are brewing. Here’s a look at three questions he’ll likely hear:

1. Does he support appealing of the state’s ultrasound law to a higher court after a federal judge struck down Friday? ( Read story on ruling here.)

2. With recent departures in his administration and more expected soon, what does the staff shakeup say about his first year and the direction of his office?

3. What is the time line you set as governor for the completion of new abortion clinic rules, as written by the Department of Health and Human Services, and why does the effort appear to be taking so long?

THE McCRORY REPORT CARD: Gov. Pat McCrory starts the second year of his term on uneven ground.

The Republican’s first year was marked by repeated controversies in his administration and a hot-button legislative session that led to contentious decisions on abortion, immigration and elections. His approval rating among voters in January is 37 percent, eight points lower than where he started a year ago.

But at the same time, much of his legislative agenda is moving forward and McCrory is touting the state’s improving economy. Soon after his election, The News & Observer looked at five main goals McCrory set during his campaign: lower unemployment, cut taxes, join an offshore drilling coalition, implement an infrastructure plan and increase accessibility.

Through his first year, McCrory’s record is mixed. See the report card here.

MORE ON DRONE COMMITTEE: A special House committee formed to explore the topic of drones meets for the first time Tuesday and could propose legislation to address issues surrounding the unmanned aircraft and their potential use by government agencies in North Carolina.

Rep. Mitchell Setzer, a Catawba County Republican and co-chairman of the House Study Committee on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, said the first meeting would focus on drone technology and the status of federal and state laws governing them.

According to its charge, the committee is expected to delve into safety and privacy issues related to drones, as well as the economic benefits of the industry. It also will look at drone uses, including search and rescue, responding to natural disasters, law enforcement operations, surveying, and environmental and infrastructure monitoring. Read more here.

MORE PROBLEMS PLAGUE HEALTH CARE LAW: Missing policies, lost policies, multiple policies and general confusion are plaguing legions of North Carolina residents who had rushed to sign up for health insurance by a Christmas Eve deadline.

The latest crisis for the federal health care law is exacerbated by about 99,000 people in North Carolina signing up for health insurance in December, requiring insurers to process the applications within days and clogging networks with a crush of virtual paperwork. Read more here.

LETHAL INJECTION BACK IN THE COURTS: The execution of an Ohio inmate last week sparked a new round of intense debate about what constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment” for prisoners sentenced to death.

In the Ohio death chamber, where a new combination of lethal drugs was tested for the first time, witnesses reported seeing Dennis B. McGuire, the inmate convicted of raping and murdering a woman in 1989, gasping for air, convulsing and clenching his fist for 25 minutes as the injection pulsed through his veins.

Though it has not been determined whether the two-drug combination was responsible for the prolonged death or whether McGuire felt pain, it has raised questions about how states execute their death row inmates.

That question is at the root of a case scheduled to go before the N.C. Court of Appeals on Tuesday. Read more here.

ABORTION OPPONENTS RALLY: At the afternoon rally, N.C. Right to Life President Barbara Holt cited the recent legislative success: “Since we met last year, our legislature passed an omnibus pro-life bill that is just amazing in what it does.” Read more here.

RUCHO ON THE ATTACK: Republican state Sen. Bob Rucho didn’t waste any time attacking his would-be GOP opponent, Jim Morrill reports. Rucho, of Matthews, sent out an email last week criticizing Charlotte attorney Matt Arnold, who plans to run against him in the Republican primary.

“Matt Arnold is just another trial lawyer who fills our courts with frivolous lawsuits that hurt the job-creating businesses and working families of our district,” Rucho said. “It should surprise no one that he doesn’t understand 1) Obamacare is wrecking our health care system and 2) Obamacare is a grave threat to our economy and personal freedom.

“For the last 100 years Raleigh was full of people like Matt Arnold – they were called liberal Democrats.”

Arnold, a first-time candidate, specializes in family law. He said he and Rucho have never met.“I don’t think his divisive comments and the way he carries himself fit that district,” Arnold said. “I don’t think you can be a leader and be that divisive. Even if you don’t agree with what they have to say, you still have to treat them with respect.”

BERGER NAMED ‘MOVER AND SHAKER OF THE YEAR’: The title comes from Business North Carolina magazine and the article is written by former Charlotte Observer Raleigh pro Jack Betts. Read it here.

WILL NEW DRIVER’S LICENSES CRACK AND CRUMBLE?: North Carolina’s “next generation” of driver’s licenses will feature the latest facial-recognition technology. That’s nice if it means you’ll be able to recognize the face in your license photo.

The state Division of Motor Vehicles says the new licenses will be strengthened to resist counterfeiters and thwart identity thieves. But will they crack under pressure in your hip pocket? Read more here.


DOT staff shuffle. Read more here.

Amazon to start collecting sales tax on North Carolina purchases. Read more here.

Reports show film incentives with conflicting impacts. Read more here.

Beach communities push back against feds dredging plans. Read more here.

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