Washington’s top pundits are shifting their view of the North Carolina U.S. Senate race.
The latest is the Cook Report, a nonpartisan political prognosticator who moved the contest from “lean Democratic” (as in favoring incumbent Kay Hagan) to straight “toss up” (meaning either party could win).
Here’s an excerpt from The Cook Report: “There are a couple of races that have been sitting in the Lean Democratic column because of Republican primaries that threaten to produce an unelectable candidate. While primaries remain a challenge for Republicans, the path to the GOP nomination for a number of the strongest Republican contenders is getting clearer, while the threat of another Richard Mourdock or Todd Akin has waned in a number of states.
“As such, Sens. Mark Begich in Alaska, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, and Kay Hagan in North Carolina are moving to the Toss Up column. In each of these races, polls show the races generally within the margin of error tied.” Read more here.
The reflection is not novel to those in North Carolina following the race. The polls have shown a tight contest for months. And the prospect of beating Hagan is driving the new urgency in the Republican primary.
*** Read below for a few more insights into the changing dynamic in Senate race – all in the Dome Morning Memo.***
The top legislative meeting in Raleigh on Thursday is a panel looking at Common Core standards. It meets at 10 a.m. in room 643 LOB. Other meetings: the committee looking at industry utility fees meets at 9:30 a.m. in room 544 LOB. The Committee on Cultural and Natural Resources meets at 1 p.m. in room 643 LOB.
In the interview, Brannon pushed back against criticism of a civil jury verdict that he misled investors in a tech company he helped start. From the interview: “At the end of the day I believe we’ll be vindicated,” Brannon said. “I’m on boards of pregnancy crisis centers, of companies, of school boards because of my integrity. I’ve been an OB-GYN in private practice for almost 22 years. My integrity built the practice of 25,000 patients, 9,000 deliveries. There is so much more detail coming out … when it all comes out, you’ll see exactly why I will never sell my integrity, not even for a Senate seat … I’ll talk about it all day.” Hear the full interview here.
The mirror. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency failed to seize an opportunity in September 2009 that might have prevented last month’s disaster near the retired Dan River Steam Station in Eden, the third-worst coal ash spill in United States history. Read more here.
But a lawyer for the General Assembly says charter schools are required to reveal what employees earn. In fact, they have less legal privacy than school districts, said special counsel Gerry Cohen.
“On its face all their personnel records would be public unless they show an applicable statute that says the record is not public,” said Cohen, who spent three decades in charge of drafting legislation. Lawyers for the N.C. Press Association and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools agree.
The debate comes as public investment in charter schools and the number of children relying on them is swelling. This year the state is spending $304.5 million for 127 charter schools that serve about 58,700 students, with counties required to kick in millions more. Twenty-six more charter schools will open in August. Read more here.
The Tuesday evening focus group was one of two held as a part of the Off the Grid National Survey, a poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Global Strategy Group to examine the way people consume information. Read more here.
The hourlong chat with spouses focused mostly on the efforts of military families to navigate their way through the health care system and to find work.
Aiken, whose brother completed two tours in Iraq with the Marines, asked questions, listened and pledged to be accessible if he’s elected. Read more here.
On the appropriations and budget committee, Sens. Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston, and Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, were appointed as co-chairmen. They are joining retiring Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, and Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow. The four chairs will work together to craft the state budget, working together with the appropriations subcommittee chairs on specific budget areas, according to a spokesperson for Berger’s office.
Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson, will co-chair the committee on agriculture, environment and natural resources and the natural and economic resources approprations subcommittee, joining Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie.
Sen. Shirley Randleman, R-Wilkes, has been appointed co-chairman of the justice and public safety appropriations subcommittee, joining retiring Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, and Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wilson.
Sen. Wesley Meredith, R-Cumberland, has been appointed co-chairman of the Department of Transportation appropriations subcommittee, joining Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick. Rabon was reappointed as cochairman of the transportation committee, joining Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Burke.
The General Assembly's Program Evaluation Division examined how the Department of Public Instruction responded to a 2011 law requiring more central oversight of driver education. About 100,000 students annually take classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction at high schools to obtain a training certificate that’s a prerequisite to obtaining a learner's permit, according to DPI. Read more here.
State task force looks to curb childhood obesity. Read more here.
Data breach exposes 529 plan savers’ private information. Read more here.
Liz Hair, pioneer for women in Charlotte politics, dies. Read more here.