Under the Dome

Confusion over Morrisville councilman Rao’s guest list

UPDATED Steve Rao, a Morrisville councilman who is considering jumping into the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, says a “logistical mistake” was made when names of several prominent state politicians were listed on an invitation as part of a host committee for an event of his.

Rao’s explanation followed a retort Wednesday morning from Rep. Larry Hall, the Democratic House leader, saying he was not on the committee, as Dome had reported Tuesday.

“Rep. Hall, Sen. (Tamara) Barringer, Sen. (Floyd) McKissick, Mayor (Bill) Bell and Sen. (Mike) Woodard were invited guests, not hosts and their names were supposed to be taken off the invitation as I had not had a chance to speak with them since they have been so busy and in session,” Rao said in an email.

Rao added that Treasurer Janet Cowell “was only there to support me in my Council role and to speak on innovation.”

Here’s what Hall had to say:

“1. I have NOT spoken with him; and 2. I have NOT agreed to serve on any host committee for him. I wish him all the best in his efforts, whatever they might be."

The emailed announcement says Rao will celebrate his birthday in a reception Wednesday night at a wine shop in Morrisville, with “special guest” Cowell. It does not say the event was about innovation.

Rao is asking for $50 donations at the event.

Rao, an executive at Alphanumeric, was elected to the Morrisville Town Council in 2011 and was re-elected in 2013.

Former Wake commissioner and legislator Linda Coleman is also in the primary, along with Buncombe County commissioner Holly Jones. Incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Forest so far faces no opposition in the primary.