Under the Dome

January 22, 2014

Morning Memo: Former Gov. Perdue to debut digital learning initiative

Former Gov. Bev Perdue is stepping back into the spotlight Wednesday after remaining largely quiet for the year after she left the governor’s mansion.

Former Gov. Bev Perdue is stepping back into the spotlight Wednesday after remaining largely quiet for the year after she left the governor’s mansion.

Perdue and former Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer are launching the Digital Learning Institute, dubbed DigiLEARN. The nonprofit will focus on “accelerating digital learning for all ages with a goal of increasing personal learning options for students and expanding instructional opportunities for teachers and instructors,” according to an announcement. It will also put energy into cultivating education technology start-ups.

“The digital world is bringing us profound and rapid changes and it is revolutionizing education and the way we live,” Perdue said in a statement. “Technology can power each education, so it’s imperative that we give every child and adult across the nation access to cutting edge technology tools that can raise the quality of education. To do that we must support a climate where education innovation thrives and new ideas for learning can be tested.”

The organization is supported through grants. It’s board of directors includes Republican state Rep. Craig Horn and Democratic state Rep. Joe Tolson.

*** Can Facebook predict who will win the North Carolina U.S. Senate race? Read about it below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory did not issue a public calendar for Wednesday.

A full day of committee meetings are scheduled at the N.C. General Assembly. The committee looking at Jordan Lake pollution meets at 9 a.m. in room 544 of the legislative office building. while an mental health oversight subcommittee meets at the same time in room 643.

An education innovation committee meets in Charlotte, while the banking law committee meets at 1 p.m. in room 425 of the legislative office building in Raleigh. An agriculture and forestry study commission also meets at 1 p.m. in room 643.

ANOTHER CANDIDATE IN THE EVER-GROWING GOP PRIMARY FOR SENATE: AP -- A retired physician is adding to the Republicans entering this year's race for U.S. Senate in North Carolina.

Dr. Edward Kryn of Clayton said late Tuesday he will seek the GOP nomination. At least seven Republicans have announced they're running in the May primary. The winner is expected to take on Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan in November.

Kryn was born in Canada and became an American citizen nine years ago. He said he's in the race because he believes his medical background working in the U.S. and Canada gives him expertise on medical issues unlike the other candidates.

Kryn said he'd seek major changes to the federal health care overhaul if elected. He says the law violates the religious liberties of groups opposed to some of its mandates.

FACEBOOK AS AN ELECTION PREDICTER: From Politco magazine, researchers at University of Massachusetts Amherst write: Last year, in a post-election analysis in Politico, we reported that eight out of nine toss-up Senate races were won by the candidate with the more engaged Facebook fan base. And in the 2012 House elections, 20 of the 33 most competitive races across the country were won by the candidate with a measurable Facebook fan engagement advantage.

The correlation between growing fan base, higher fan engagement and victory on Election Day led us to ask this question: Are Facebook metrics a crystal ball that can be used to predict election outcomes?

NC RACE: According to our Facebook forecast, in North Carolina, incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, leads State House Speaker Thom Tillis, the leading Republican contender, by 52.7 to 47.3. Read more here.

RAND PAUL SAYS 2014 NC SENATE RACE IS 2010 ALL OVER AGAIN: The reference is to the Kentucky senator’s victorious campaign four years and he sees parallels to Greg Brannon’s campaign in North Carolina.

In a fundraising letter for Brannon, Paul writes: “When I ran for the Senate in 2010, it seemed like everyone was lined up against me. All the big money was bet on my establishment opponent. The only people who stood with me were the grassroots.

“But when I blew my opponents out of the water in the primary and the general election, it only proved that the real power in politics lies with the grassroots motivated by conservative principle.”

With Paul’s backing, Brannon is launching an online fundraising campaign for small donors called a money bomb from Jan. 16 to Thursday. He set a $50,000 goal.

TILLIS RAISING CASH TOO: Republican Thom Tillis is also raising money for his campaign – but in larger chunks. According to an invite, Tillis was scheduled for a fundraiser Tuesday at the Capitol Hill Club. The minimum for a ticket was $500 with top tickets at $2,500 per political action committee. The event was dubbed a “healthcare lunch.”

THE BIG STORY -- McCRORY 2014 AGENDA LOOKS MUCH LIKE 2013: Gov. Pat McCrory made a pledge to teachers Tuesday: A pay increase is coming.

The Republican governor lamented the state’s near-bottom average teacher salary, noting that educators received just one raise in the past five years.

“That is unacceptable to me, unacceptable to the legislature and unacceptable to the people of North Carolina,” McCrory said. “And that’s why we will get teacher raises done this year.”

McCrory offered no details about his proposal and did not say whether all state workers would see a pay bump. Read more here.

RELATED: The AP version. Read it here.


--WRAL: 5 questions the governor didn’t answer. Read them here .

--N&O editorial: McCrory agenda has strong points but skips major needs. Read more here .

--News & Record editorial: Better year, please. Read more here .

N.C. NAACP HEAD IN HOT WATER AFTER COMMENTS: Rev. William Barber’s remarks are making national political news. From The State, our sister paper in South Carolina: In a speech of fire and thunder Sunday evening, one of today’s best-known civil rights activists denounced what he said was narrow-minded political and religious thinking that has “put extremism on steroids.”

“We must not give up the so-called high moral ground to the right-wing extremists,” said the Rev. William Barber II, 50, president of the N.C. NAACP, to about 300 at Zion Baptist Church in downtown Columbia.

... AND THE CONTROVERSIAL QUOTE: He also singled out U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the conservative black Republican appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley.

“A ventriloquist can always find a good dummy,” Barber said. He said “the extreme right wing down here (in South Carolina) finds a black guy to be senator and claims he’s the first black senator since Reconstruction and then he goes to Washington, D.C., and articulates the agenda of the Tea Party.” Read more here.

KEITH WEATHERLY TO GET NEW JOB: Mayor Keith Weatherly has resigned after 20 years on the Apex Town Council for a new job opportunity, according to an announcement at Tuesday's meeting.

Weatherly, 63, said he could not reveal his new position Tuesday evening because an official statement was pending from his new employer. Weatherly most recently was a legislative assistant to Republican Speaker Pro Tem Paul Stam.

“It's an incredible opportunity for me,” Weatherly said. “One I can't turn down. I'd like to thank the people of Apex for allowing me to serve. It's been an incredible experience.”

He will remain in the Raleigh area, but said the new position could be perceived as a conflict of interest and would take too much time from his duties as mayor. Read more here.

N.C. TEACHER TO ATTEND SOTU: News & Record -- Karyn Dickerson, an English teacher at Grimsley High, gets to share her vision of education at events across the state as the N.C. Teacher of the Year.

She’ll get a bigger stage to share her education views next week as a guest of U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, at events surrounding President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Read more here.

A MAN OF HISTORY: Rob Christensen writes about a “McCrory Democrat.” Read his column here.

SBI INVESTIGATING MACON BOUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS: From Carolina Mercury -- The SBI has launched an investigation into allegations of “questionable business practices” and possible irregularities with records at the Macon County Board of Elections office, the county sheriff announced Tuesday. Read more here.


Dan Forest campaigns for buddy Brendan Jones. Read more here.

Abortion as a midterm election issue, including North Carolina. Read more here.

N.C. Appeals Court orders new trial in infant death. Read more here.

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