Let the voting begin.
The North Carolina primary election is getting national attention as a bellwether for the forces at battle inside the Republican Party. But the ballot may offer clues to many big questions. Take a look at 5 keys to watch:
But as the tea party spirit fades elsewhere in the nation, can it make a stand in North Carolina? All the major candidates -- Thom Tillis, Greg Brannon and Mark Harris -- are getting some tea party support. But Brannon is backed by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is behind Brannon.
What will the election tell us about the tea party's potency in North Carolina, especially ahead of 2016? A win for the tea party is a runoff, at the least.
But on a larger level, did the primary push Tillis too far to the right, or put him in too many awkward positions that he's wounded for November? Anything short of an outright win would be a blow to the Tillis campaign and the Washington establishment that has pulled out all the stops for him in recent days.
Jones barely hit the campaign trail, to hear local politicos tell it, while Griffin tried to refamiliarize himself with the district after moving back from Washington. Can the absent candidate win against the Washington GOP establishment's hand-picked challenger?
The top two candidates move on to November. And don't expect the money spigot to stop if Hudson wins. But if she manages to survive for another day, it puts the campaign against her at a crossroads: More ads or new tactics? If past is prologue, expect the negative campaigning to continue.
If Berger Jr. survives the attacks on his record as Rockingham district attorney, particularly if he wins without a runoff, he is well on his way to Washington. The district leans GOP, but he will have to face a tougher-than-average Democrat in Laura Fjeld. Two ambitious Bergers in office would make good political theater in the years to come.
***Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. But the most important ballot Tuesday is this one -- the Dome Election Contest. We jest, but vote here for a chance to test your political acumen and win N&O prizes, including the coveted comics umbrella and more. ***
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a tea party favorite and possible GOP presidential candidate, headlined a Charlotte rally for Republican Greg Brannon. And former presidential nominee Mitt Romney became the latest establishment figure to back Brannon’s rival, Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis.
“This is the first high-profile Senate primary pitting the tea party against the establishment,” said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the Cook Political Report. Read more here.
GREENVILLE, N.C. -- The evening offered barbecued chicken, corn sticks, iced tea and Jesse Helms. Catfish Hunter couldn't make it, but for the North Carolina senator the evening was still a sentimental journey back to the Moose lodge where he began his first Senate campaign on a rainy night 12 years ago.
"I see many faces that were there that night," he told the crowd of 500, which paid $5 a plate to sit 20 abreast at the long tables filling the hall. "This is where it all started, so you're kind of responsible. When the governor talks about embarrassment to North Carolina, he's talking about you."
Jesse and Jim, Helms vs. Hunt, the senator against the governor, the Old South against the New. (Thanks to NYT’s Jonathan Martin for sending article along.)
Here's how it starts: With the North Carolina GOP Senate primary drawing to a close, it appears State House Speaker Thom Tillis’ special interest allies are dragging him across the finish line in Tuesday night’s primary. Tillis, already the DC insider, is touting himself as a future NRSC chair, which is a prime example of the transparent abandonment of North Carolina that makes him unelectable in November.
"Over the next 6 months, Tillis will be forced to defend his divisive and offensive remarks, his abysmal, anti-middle class record in Raleigh, his newest slew of fringe positions, and his heavy load of ethical baggage."
The crew of a movie shooting on Princess Street says they saw Sen. Bill Rabon (R-8th District) drive off after hitting a parked car in a parking lot at 2nd and Princess, but the senator says he had no idea. ...
The witness told officers the driver was Sen. Rabon. He says Rabon told him he would make it right before leaving. ...
Rabon, a self-proclaimed bad driver, says he thinks he had a few drinks with Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-18th District) after Sunday afternoon's film rally, but he says he was not impaired when he got in his car to drive home.
(The governor’s office, like the House, was exploring 2 percent across the board pay hikes earlier this year, though recent budget shortfall projections may make that more difficult.)
But Tarte said he doesn’t support across-the-board raises. He called for a multitier pay system that would put the state’s best teachers well above the national average, withhold raises from lower performers and push the bottom 2 percent of teachers to leave the profession. Read more here.
Fix what, exactly? Well, there really was no need to spell it out. Just as they knew what those unloved initials stood for, many North Carolinians knew what they didn’t like about the state Division of Motor Vehicles.
Now, a few months into their second year on the job, McCrory and Transportation Secretary Tony Tata have made a good start at fixing DMV and how it serves drivers and car owners. Let’s hope they keep up that momentum. They still have plenty of work to do with DMV workers who meet the public in person and on the phone.
“They were not very understanding when I tried to tell them what the situation was,” Bela Horvath, 78, of Bahama, told the Road Worrier. DMV had ordered him to turn in his license tags after mistakenly concluding that his car insurer was not licensed in North Carolina. It took weeks of phone calls and letters to clear up the error. Read more here.
Members of the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee voted to postpone the bill, saying more study is needed, but sent forward three other bills that would expand opportunities for families at nontraditional schools. Supporters of the open enrollment bill said it would provide families more choices, but opponents cited concerns about school districts’ abilities to fulfill the bill’s provisions. Read more here.
It should go without saying, but obviously I have to say it anyway: Please don’t drink each time a political candidate uses a buzzword that replaces real thought and obfuscates their real meaning. There’ll be plenty of time – and reason – to get drunk once your chosen candidate gets into office. Read more here.