Former President Bill Clinton was on the campaign trail for Democrats last week, raising the question of whether one of the country’s most popular leaders will bring his political skills to North Carolina on behalf of embattled U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.
With his Arkansas twang, Clinton has always had appeal in the South. He’s also firmly rooted – like Hagan – in his party’s centrist tradition, has enjoyed support from independents and has long been extremely popular among African-Americans, who accounted for nearly a quarter of the North Carolina vote in the 2012 presidential race, according to exit polls.
“I would think North Carolina would be prime turf for him,” said Marc Farinella, a Democratic strategist who managed President Barack Obama’s successful 2008 campaign in the Tar Heel state. “I’m not running Kay Hagan’s campaign, but if I were, I would certainly want him to be there.”
Hagan’s campaign says that there’s nothing scheduled for Clinton now. Aides to the former president expect him to have a busy campaign schedule in 2014 but would not discuss his future political travels. Read more here.
*** Below in the Dome Morning Memo, North Carolina’s coal ash spill gets major national attention and McCrory tries to clarify his Duke Energy ties.***
Three legislative committees are schedule to meeting Monday to look at property rights, mechanics liens and public enterprise systems, respectively.
“The General Assembly doesn’t like you,” an official in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources told supervisors called to a drab meeting room here. “They cut your budget, but you didn’t get the message. And they cut your budget again, and you still didn’t get the message.”
From now on, regulators were told, they must focus on customer service, meaning issuing environmental permits for businesses as quickly as possible. Big changes are coming, the official said, according to three people in the meeting, two of whom took notes. “If you don’t like change, you’ll be gone.” Read more here.
“My expertise is not in coal. I never worked in that area,” McCrory said. “But I know infrastructure and I know management and I know engineering. Somewhere along the way there has been a breakdown in ensuring that site was properly maintained.”
On Friday, McCrory gave the News & Record his first in-depth interview about his career — and how it shaped his philosophy — since the spill. Read more here.
Problems with the system have multiplied tenfold since the beginning of last year, when a contractor installed a new software system meant to bridge the DMV’s computers with the thousands of certified inspectors. When the online system doesn’t work, drivers have to get a receipt from their inspection to the DMV for a “manual override.” About 35,000 people requested overrides this February, compared to a baseline of about 3,000 during the same month two years ago. Those 35,000 people represented about 6 percent of the inspections sent to the state. Read more here.
Joe Hauck was paid $310,000 in less than 11 months as a consultant to state Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos before returning in December to his job as an executive at a private company run by Wos' husband.
In response to public records requests filed in September by The Associated Press seeking all plans, proposals, documents, e-mails and any other work product authored by Hauck, the state agency has handed over a pair of memos totaling little more than three double-spaced pages. Read more here.
But at the top of the ballot, the crowded race for the U.S. Senate is now overflowing with candidates. Two new candidates – a Democrat and a Republican – joined the race in the last hours before Friday’s noon deadline, pushing the final tally of contenders to 13, including incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan. Eight Republicans, three Democrats and two Libertarians will compete in the May 6 primary.
The glaring number of uncontested races is higher than it was in 2012, indicating more politicians are choosing not to run in areas where winning seems impossible, said David McLennan, a political analyst and professor at William Peace University in Raleigh. Read more here.
… But one environmental group warns that damage to marine life from seismic air guns probing for pockets of oil and gas would mean bigger losses for commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism and coastal recreation. Read more here.
Odd couple: Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Barbara Mikulski have the only bill on the agenda with a chance of passage. Read more here.
Durham’s political groups have new leaders. Read more here.
Catawba Indian to open bingo parlor with company pushing casino project. Read more here.
WSJ: North Carolina a case study in unemployment insurance. Read more here.
N.C. worries about military cuts. Read more here.
Trial by judge amendment to constitution prepared for 14 ballot. Read more here.
Christensen: A look at Zeno Ponder’s former political machine. Read more here.