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The Source: Cooper revs up Democrats for gubernatorial run

Cooper revs up Democrats for gubernatorial run

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said Saturday that he’s planning to run for governor in 2016 and told Democratic Party activists that policies adopted this year by Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican legislative leaders have harmed the average resident.

Cooper used his platform as a speaker at the state Democratic Party’s Western Gala in Asheville to attack Republicans, who with McCrory’s election last year controlled the state’s legislative and executive branches for the first time in more than a century.

Asked whether he planned to run for governor in three years, Cooper told the Asheville Citizen-Times: “It’s a little early to make a formal announcement, but certainly that’s in the plans.”

Cooper has declined similar gubernatorial bids in the past.

The Democratic attorney general and former state senator said he wants to restore North Carolina’s reputation as a progressive Southern state after the policies implemented this year by GOP leaders.

“You know what they’ve done. Tax giveaways for the top 1 percent instead of real tax breaks for working North Carolina families, an end to child-care tax credits, election law changes that made it harder for North Carolinians to vote, overcrowded classrooms for public school teachers and layoffs for teacher assistants,” he said. “This is not the North Carolina that any of us recognize.”

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, who is running for re-election next year, was scheduled as the event’s dinner speaker at the Grove Park Inn.


Endorsement time

Rhonda Lennon, who’s seeking another four years representing the northern District 1 on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School board, announced support from Cornelius Mayor Lynette Rinker and three of the five town board members: Chuck Travis, John Bradford and David Gilroy.

Two former Cornelius mayors also endorsed Lennon: Jeff Tarte, who’s now a state senator, and Gary Knox.

Her opponent, Christine Mast, announced her stand against the $290 million CMS bond package that’s on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Mast said the package doesn’t include enough for District 1, and she’s skeptical of claims that approval won’t lead to a tax hike. She said she’d rather see the county reduce spending to pay back construction debt and provide money to give teachers a cost-of-living raise.


Shutdown leads to robo-calls

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee targeted three North Carolina congressmen with robo-calls last week over the government shutdown, including Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte.

The DCCC began the calls Tuesday, hours after the shutdown went into effect.

“While you were sleeping, Congressman Robert Pittenger shut down the government,” the calls say. “You heard that right. But even worse – Congressman Pittenger is still getting paid – and he’s not listening to our frustration. All because of his demand to take away your benefits and protect insurance company profits. Call Congressman Pittenger ... to end the shutdown.”

The DCCC also targeted GOP Reps. Richard Hudson of the 8th District and George Holding of the 13th. They’re among 63 Republican congressmen across the country whose districts are getting similar calls.

What’s unusual about targeting Pittenger is that his 9th District is solidly Republican and has been for 60 years.

Pittenger spokesman Jamie Bowers said their offices haven’t reported getting any of the robo-calls.

The DCCC did not target other North Carolina delegates who voted to defund the new health care law, including Rep. Mike McIntyre of the 7th District. He was one of just two Democrats in the country who voted with Republicans.


“I don’t have a PowerPoint. I am your PowerPoint.”

- Democratic mayoral candidate Patrick Cannon, speaking to the Mecklenburg Bar after Republican Edwin Peacock used a visual aide in his comments.


Nap time in Washington

U.S. Rep. George Holding got a little shut-eye last week – on C-SPAN.

The Republican congressman from Raleigh was in the speaker’s chair Thursday during a speech by his notoriously long-winded GOP colleague, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas.

A C-SPAN camera found Holding slumped in his chair, with his head resting on a hand and his eyes shut. According to Politico, he then appeared to wake up just before the cameras cut back to Gohmert.


Time to thank a teacher

John Tate, an N.C. Board of Education member from Charlotte, was frustrated by this summer’s legislative actions that he believes made life more difficult for teachers. He started talking to other like-minded people and ended up creating a “thank a teacher” campaign.

It debuted with full-page Observer ads and thankstoateacher.com, a website that encourages people to write short tributes to teachers who changed their lives. The ads and the site don’t identify the sponsors, and Tate says that’s for a reason: “I worked hard to depoliticize this ad. It is not a backhand swipe at anybody. It’s designed very simply just to say thanks and let the teaching ranks know there are a lot of people in the community who support them.”

Tate says about 130 people contributed to the campaign.


Another casualty of the shutdown

Chalk up another casualty of the federal government shutdown. And this one will cost the North Carolina Republican Party.

The state party had scheduled a fundraiser for Wednesday at The Capitol Hill Club, with guests paying up to $2,500. The event was to be headlined by GOP Sen. Richard Burr, the state’s nine Republican House members and Gov. Pat McCrory.

Republican national Chairman Reince Priebus was expected to put in an appearance.

But Friday, with the shutdown in its fourth day and no end in sight, GOP leaders decided to postpone the event.

“In light of the government shutdown, the North Carolina Republican Party thought it would be best to put our Washington D.C. fundraiser on hold,” said Todd Poole, the party’s executive director. “In the meantime, we hope our Democrat friends on Capitol Hill will come to their senses and join Republicans at the negotiating table and end the shutdown.”

One member of the state delegation, by the way, is getting credit – or blame – for initiating the shutdown.

Freshman GOP Rep. Mark Meadows of Jackson County got 79 members to sign onto a letter in August urging their colleagues to tie continued government funding to dismantling the new health care law.

He’s gotten attention in the national media. CNN called him “the architect of the brink.”


State education board member wants teacher pay hike

State Board of Education member John Tate wants the board to back a resolution to bring teacher pay in the state to the national average.

Tate sprung his proposal on the board last week, calling teacher pay “flat pathetic.” Teachers and state employees received one 1.2-percent raise in the last five years.

After years of concerted efforts to raise teacher pay to the national average, North Carolina was ranked 25th in 2008 by the National Education Association. The state has slipped since then, and is close to the bottom of national rankings.

“I feel like we have to send a message to our teachers as soon as possible,” Tate said.

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey said he and other board members want teachers to make more, but he ruled consideration of his resolution out of order. Board members said that they needed more background information and that the resolution should have been on the agenda. Cobey said the resolution could hold for a month.

The budget for next year does not include across-the-board raises for teachers or state employees. Legislators are moving to a system of performance pay for teachers. The budget offers $500 bonuses to top teachers who give up their tenure and sign employment contracts.

Rick Rothacker, Ann Doss Helms, Jim Morrill, Bruce Henderson, Associated Press and The (Raleigh) News & Observer contributed to this report.

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