Round 1 ended without a major moment. Round 2 starts today.
The Republican candidates for U.S. Senate will trade words again Wednesday in a Raleigh television studio and more is needed from Thom Tillis’ rivals if they expected to upset the current status where the House speaker sits atop the pile of eight candidates.
Columnist Rob Christensen analyzed the first debate. He writes in today’s paper: The first televised debate Tuesday night reflected both a high-stakes Senate GOP primary race that is fluid and a party that is struggling to define itself.
State House Speaker Thom Tillis, who has been leading in the polls and in fundraising, emerged from the debate largely unscathed despite frequent barbs from Cary physician Greg Brannon, his tea party opponent.
The other two candidates, Charlotte pastor Mark Harris and Heather Grant, a nurse practitioner in Wilkes County, chose not to engage their opponents in a debate that was surprisingly staid.
The winner by default was Tillis, who had the most to risk because he has an extensive public record to defend and only rarely did he have to do so. For the other candidates, particularly Brannon and Harris, it was a missed opportunity to build a strong case about why they, rather than Tillis, would make the better opponent to Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in the fall.
Three legislative committees meet Wednesday at 1 p.m.: the panel looking at funeral and cemetery regulations will meet at 415 LOB; the committee on drones will meet in room 544 LOB; a House study group on education innovation meets in 643 LOB.
Former Gov. Bev Perdue is speaking at an education innovation summit at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Republican Sen. Richard Burr will speak to a Raleigh high school, attend a veterans event, visit a family medicine center and appear on WPTF radio at 4:30 p.m.
The Republican candidates for U.S. Senate will debate again in Raleigh on WRAL-TV at 7 p.m.
The two Republicans dominated the debate with their back-and-forth as Mark Harris and Heather Grant sought to remain largely above the fray.
Despite the need to differentiate themselves, the four candidates found more common ground. All oppose the Affordable Care Act. All oppose medical marijuana. All want to eliminate federal agencies. All believe Russia is the biggest foreign policy threat. And all believe climate change is not a fact.
The debate represented the first time all four leading candidates traded jousts and showcased the ideological battle within the race and the broader Republican Party. Brannon cited the Constitution at least 15 times in the first dozen questions, while Tillis advocated a “practical conservatism” that encouraged bipartisan cooperation. Read more here.
But in the spin room after the debate, Tillis repeatedly received the question about the apparent discrepancy in his statements on the situation. At the time, Tillis called them resignations, but in the TV ad, his campaign called them “firings.”
Asked to explain, he said, “In the professional world, people are given the opportunity to resign. Their resignation was forced. It was a sad chapter in their lives two years ago.”
Democrats suggested such language backtracked, if not contradicted, his TV ad.
At first, Mark Harris stood alone and Heather Grant sat silently at the back of the room until the occasional reporter came to each of them.
A number of national reporters traveled to the debate, including AP national political reporter Chuck Babington (an N&O alum), Wall Street Journal political reporter Patrick O’Connor, Reuters’ Colleen Jenkins (a UNC alum based in Winston-Salem), a NY1 TV reporter and others.
The survey underscores a favorable political environment overall for Republicans in Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisiana and Arkansas – states President Obama lost in 2012 and where his disapproval rating runs as high as 60 percent. ...
Senator Kay Hagan, Democrat of North Carolina, appears more endangered as she seeks a second term. She has the support of 42 percent of voters, and Thom Tillis, the Republican state House speaker and front-runner for his party’s nomination, is at 40 percent. Unlike Mr. Pryor, however, Sen. Hagan’s approval rating, 44 percent, is the same as her disapproval number. Read more here.
The website determined that the PAC’s claims were, in fact, true.
“Based on news reports, we think the Democratic super PAC’s account is accurate,” the site said.
“The ad doesn’t say that Tillis didn’t initiate the action, either. We think most viewers would make the reasonable assumption that the boss – in this case Tillis – asked for the resignations or certainly willingly accepted them.” Read more here.
Here’s how Politifact broke it down: Hagan’s ad says Tillis “called Obamacare ‘a great idea.’ “That’s a severely edited quote. What Tillis actually said was that Obamacare is “a great idea that can’t be paid for.” Pulling out that tiny sound bite gives a highly misleading view of what Tillis said in the interview.
Hagan, for her part, is trying to argue that Tillis privately supports the very Obamacare he fiercely opposes in public. But to make that argument, she’s relying on extraordinarily thin evidence. We rate Hagan’s claim Mostly False.” Read more here.
A cheaper option, which leaves the coal ash in place at most sites, would cost at least $2 billion.
Duke officials are keeping a low profile about who will pay that cost, but a state regulator estimated the higher price tag cited Tuesday could cost North Carolina households more than $20 a month.
The Charlotte electric utility provided the financial estimate to the N.C. Environmental Review Commission at a public hearing to explore remediation options for its ash pits in the wake of a spill of 39,000 tons of coal ash sludge at Duke’s Dan River power plant in February. Read more here.
The 147-page report takes a shotgun approach, leveling numerous accusations and complaints steeped in inflammatory language.
Among other things, the report, unveiled at a press conference at SEANC’s headquarters Tuesday morning, contends that Cowell has potentially violated numerous state and federal laws regarding investment disclosure; concealed $30 billion in investments from public view; and cost the pension fund $6.8 billion in returns over the past five years because “alternative” investments, such as hedge funds and real estate, have under-performed.
Governor taps DOT board member, state senate candidate to lead ports board. Read more here.
Burr supports N.C. decisions on health care. Read more here.
12th District Democrats push higher minimum wage. Read more here.
Challenger Matt Arnold: ‘Time for a new set of eyes on issues’ in Bob Rucho’s District 39 seat. Read more here.