Under the Dome

Morning Memo: Kay Hagan continues to lead money race in Senate contest

Democrat Kay Hagan continues to dominate the money contest in the U.S. Senate race.

Hagan’s campaign announced it will report raising nearly $2.8 million in the first three months of 2014, more than double the total of her closest Republican rival. Likewise, her roughly $8.3 million in the bank dwarfs her challengers.

“Kay’s strong fundraising total for the first quarter shows the excitement and momentum behind her campaign,” said spokeswoman Sadie Weiner in a statement.

Republican Thom Tillis will report about $1.3 million raised this quarter, according to AP, an improvement on the $714,326 he raised in the final quarter of 2013.

It would have brought his total closer to $2 million, but Tillis is burning cash to best his Republican challengers in the primary. His cash on hand at end of the first fundraising quarter for 2014 is roughly the same as it was at the end of 2014, at $1.3 million. The bulk of the expense is likely his TV ad campaign.

It’s still well more than other Republican candidates. Greg Brannon reported raising $500,000 but did not disclose a cash-on-hand total. Mark Harris has yet to disclose this fundraising totals.

The money is instrumental to allowing the campaigns to get out their message, though outside groups are preparing to spend even bigger money on the race.

*** Get more news from the Senate campaign trail below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory will make an economic development announcement at 2:15 p.m. in Catawba County and later attend the N.C. Public Transportation Association Conference at 6:30 p.m. in Charlotte.

The education oversight committee meets at 10 a.m. in room 544 LOB. And a Revenue Laws subcommittee meets at 2 p.m. in 415 LOB.

Also in Raleigh, the Economic Investment Committee for JDIG incentive program meets at 11 a.m. at the N.C. Department of Commerce offices.

THE TOP STORY – SENATE APPROVES JOBLESS AID, HOUSE PROSPECTS UNCERTAIN: The Senate on Monday agreed to extend the federal unemployment insurance program to about 2.8 million people nationwide who have lost jobs, exhausted their state benefits and still have not found new work.

The bill passed 59-38, but it’s future remains uncertain. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has criticized the bill and party leaders have not indicated whether they will allow a vote.

If the benefits extension becomes law, the measure would make long-term unemployed people in North Carolina eligible once again for the federal program. The state lost eligibility when the Republican-led legislature cut state benefits last summer. About 170,000 North Carolinians lost their federal jobless benefits in the second half of last year as a result. Read more here.

#NCSEN ---

MARK HARRIS SAYS TILLIS SHOULD STEP DOWN AS SPEAKER –Criticizes lobbyist contributions: From National Journal, dateline PINEHURST – ... Rev. Mark Harris, is hoping to stir things up and is planning to repeatedly criticize Tillis’s decision to remain as House Republican leader while running for the Senate. Tillis is able to raise money for his Senate campaign from lobbyists with interests before the state’s General Assembly, but it’s illegal to raise such funds for his state legislative campaigns.

Framing the speaker’s conduct as “pay to play,” Harris suggested the activity was unethical.

“It would have been better judgment for him to step down as speaker. It opens the door for questions of ethics to be raised,” Harris told National Journal, arguing that it could become a glaring vulnerability if Tillis wins the GOP nomination against Sen. Kay Hagan. “If I had one thing to do differently [in the campaign], I would have demanded he step down as speaker in October.”

HARRIS TO GO ON TV -- One more tidbit from the article: Harris also confirmed to NJ that his campaign would start airing ads this week – his first major ad buy of the campaign.

RELATED: Another report says the U.S. Chamber will back Thom Tillis in the Senate race and air ads on his behalf. Read more here.

LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATE SAYS HE WOULD ENDORSE BRANNON: From Carolina Journal – “I’m going to be perfectly honest with you,” D’Annunzio said. “The last thing that I want to be responsible for if I receive the nomination is to allow Kay Hagan to defeat someone who is a libertarian because I split the libertarian vote in the name of the Libertarian Party.” Read more here.

TILLIS GETS RIGHT TO LIFE ENDORSEMENT: AP – House Speaker Thom Tillis has received the endorsement of an influential national anti-abortion group in the race for U.S. Senate in North Carolina.

National Right to Life announced Monday it’s backing Tillis in the Republican primary and the general election. The group cited his leadership in the General Assembly on legislation related to abortion and unborn children. The group says Tillis is the best candidate to defeat Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, who supports abortion rights.

The endorsement is important in the GOP primary. Tillis rivals Dr. Greg Brannon and the Rev. Mark Harris talk on the campaign trail routinely about their opposition to abortion.

While Tillis has been speaker, legislators approved laws that seek to change standards for abortion clinics and place additional restrictions on the procedure.

DEBATES: Three scheduled in Senate GOP primary. Read more here.

#NCPOL ---

SEN. CLODFELTER NAMED NEXT CHARLOTTE MAYOR: The man tapped Monday night to be the next mayor of The Queen City has strong Raleigh ties.

Charlotte City Council named N.C. Sen. Dan Clodfelter to replace Patrick Cannon, who resigned nearly two weeks ago after his arrest on federal corruption charges.

Clodfelter said he’ll resign from the General Assembly Tuesday. The city plans a small swearing-in ceremony Wednesday.

After serving on the Charlotte City Council from 1987 until 1993, he was elected to the N.C. Senate in 1998. Now in his eighth term, Clodfelter earned a reputation as a workhorse, more intent on getting something done than on self-promotion. Read more here.

DEMOCRATIC HOUSE CANDIDATE’S RESIDENCY CHALLENGED: The Wilson Times – State House candidate Mark Bibbs sued the city of Wilson over a failed building inspection Monday, the same day elections officials received a complaint contending he doesn’t live at his registered address and should be ineligible to represent the district in which he’s running.

Bibbs, a Wilson attorney, prepared the lawsuit and temporary restraining order himself and is demanding a jury trial. The N.C. House candidate claims a March 21 building inspection was politically motivated. An election protest challenging Bibbs’ eligibility to run for office in House District 24 cites the failed inspection as proof that Bibbs is not a lawful resident. Read more here.

DESPITE FREEZE, VOUCHER ADVOCATES PUSH FORWARD: Pro-voucher group Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina is launching a social and traditional media campaign Tuesday for the “opportunity scholarship” program. The program, which would give parents up to $4,200 a year in taxpayer money to send their children to private schools, remains under a court-ordered freeze.

The campaign will feature online videos of parents. Parents will also be put in touch with reporters. “One of the things I thought was missing was the voice of that parent,” said Darrell Allison, president of the organization.

McCRORY AIDE SHIFTS TO DOT: Gov. Pat McCrory’s eastern North Carolina representative was named state ferry system director Monday, replacing a veteran employee to lead one of the nation’s largest passenger boat operations.

The Department of Transportation announced the hiring of Ed Goodwin, who for nearly a year led the Republican governor’s eastern regional office.

Goodwin will make $92,029 annually, an 84 percent increase over the $50,000 McCrory’s office said he made as chief of his eastern office. The governor’s office “didn’t have any involvement” in Goodwin’s hiring for the ferry job, McCrory spokesman Ryan Tronovitch said. Thomas’ predecessor made about the same amount as Goodwin will as director. Read more here.


VA hospitals paid $4.7 million in wrongful-death claims. Read more here.

Environmental commission appeals ruling, agrees with Duke Energy. Read more here.