With the ballot now set, the first poll of the official Republican primary field for U.S. Senate finds a dead heat between Thom Tillis and Greg Brannon.
Both took 14 percent in a March survey from Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh-based Democratic firm.
It’s a downward shift for Tillis, who held a commanding 20 percent in the PPP poll a month ago, and puts him in the morass of an eight-candidate field despite pumping big money into a TV ad campaign.
The plurality of the GOP primary electorate remains undecided, at 36 percent.
Even with a minimal campaign, Heather Grant took third at 11 percent putting her within the margins for the lead. Former Shelby Mayor Ted Alexander and Charlotte pastor Mark Harris took 7 percent ahead of unknown Alex Bradshaw at 6 percent.
When GOP primary voters are asked about the candidates, about three-quarters are unsure what to think about them. The one candidate recognized by at least half of the voters is Tillis, the House speaker. But even then, his favorable ratings are a tick lower than his unfavorable numbers at 24-28.
*** For more on the poll, check Dome later today. In the meantime, get your North Carolina political fix below in the Dome Morning Memo.***
State Sen. Martin Nesbitt’s funeral is today outside Asheville. All legislative meetings were canceled to allow lawmakers to attend. The governor also plans to attend.
Activists urging the restoration of the Voting Rights Act will rally at the state Capitol this afternoon. The groups include the state chapter of the NAACP and an Alabama civil rights coalition.
Brannon also said Romney and President Barack Obama, a Democrat, “despise the Constitution,” as he minimized the differences between the two major parties.
The comments came in a blog that Brannon co-wrote on the website of Founders’ Truth, a group he helped start.
Brannon, 53, is standing by his statements. “I’m a lifelong Republican who firmly believes that we will continue to lose elections if we don’t nominate candidates who will stand on principle,” he said in a statement. “Moderate Republicans have given us out-of-control spending, unsustainable debt and bigger government. Enough is enough.” Read more here.
... Gary Pearce, a longtime Democratic consultant who worked with former Gov. Jim Hunt, wrote in a blog posting Monday that Voller’s supporters “pose as great a danger to Democrats as the tea party does to Republicans.” Read more here.
The group We Love Mountain Island Lake hosted the panel discussion including environmental advocates, Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins, Gaston County Republican Rep. John Torbett and Mecklenburg Democrat Rep. Rodney Moore. About 75 people attended.
As a line formed to ask questions, most were aimed at the two lawmakers. Their responses grew more pointed as the questions did.
“We’re going to be the General Assembly that fixes this problem after all these years,” Torbett finally said after being pressed on how the legislature would respond to the spill.
... Torbett toured Riverbend last week and said he’s most concerned about draining water from its ponds to make any breach of the dams less likely.
“We’re going to work within the law” as the state investigates the Dan spill, he said. “Duke is a private company that is entitled to due process.” Read more here.
Conservative American Enterprise Institute says Burr’s alternative to the Affordable Care Act falls short. Read more here.
Obama administration abandons Medicare prescription changes. Read more here.
N.C. businesswoman to visit White House, talk health care. Read more here.
Commercial fishing groups intend to sue state, federal agencies. Read more here.
Air Force emphasizes vital role of C-130s amid talks of cuts. Read more here.
Lawyer, NC unemployment agency battle in court. Read more here.