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The Source: McCrory has kind words for Charlotte’s new mayor-elect

Gov. Pat McCrory was in Asheville Thursday night to help fete North Carolina favorite son Billy Graham on his 95th birthday. But during an interview with the Observer, the Republican governor also had congratulations for Charlotte Mayor-elect Patrick Cannon, who’s a Democrat.

McCrory and Cannon go way back: The governor’s brother, Phil McCrory, was a teen Cannon’s “brother” as part of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. The governor and the mayor-elect also donned tuxedos to be in Phil McCrory’s wedding.

“I’ve known Pat since he was 13 years old,” Gov. Pat McCrory said. “I stood right next to him when my brother got married. I taught Pat how to swim and how to dive.”

McCrory, who said he was proud of Cannon, talked with the mayor-elect after his victory Tuesday.

“I had a very nice conversation with him,” the governor said. “And I’m going to invite him to the mansion soon to have dinner and even spend the night and talk about issues that are important to both Pat and myself.” Tim Funk

GOP decries early voting locale

Early voting clearly gave Charlotte Democrats a big advantage heading into last week’s city election. Some Republicans wonder whether it was an unfair advantage. Why?

Because the only site open for the first seven days of early voting was the Hal Marshall center in uptown Charlotte.

“We’re just now realizing the scale is very much in favor of our Democratic opponents,” said Republican Edwin Peacock, the losing candidate in Charlotte’s mayoral election. “How would you feel if the only complex open was South Regional (Library)?”

Cannon took a 5,481-vote lead into Election Day thanks to early voting. But the decision to open Hal Marshall nearly a week before 14 other sites had nothing to do with partisan politics, said the Republican who chairs the elections board.

Mary Summa said the board chose Hal Marshall because the elections board itself couldn’t accommodate enough voters and parking. “That is really the closest county building that we had space in,” she said.

The reason Hal Marshall was the only voting site opened early, she added, was to save money. In a low-turnout election – less than 18 percent of county voters went to the polls – the board didn’t feel additional sites were warranted during the first week.

Democrats, by the way, did have an edge that first week at Hal Marshall, but not a big one. Only 648 people voted there that week, of whom 457 were Democrats. Jim Morrill

Ex-Charlottean starts voter ed group

Some groups have taken North Carolina to court over the state’s new voting law. Yvette Lewis decided to do something else.

Lewis, a Charlotte native who chairs the Maryland Democratic Party, has started the Voter Empowerment Action Project. It’s designed to educate voters about the new law and help them navigate the new rules.

“I just don’t think we need to spend our time in court or marching or protesting, we just need to help people vote,” she said.

The Charlotte Catholic graduate said North Carolina will be the first test case for her group. She hopes to raise $1 million in private, not political, donations to help people cope with the new laws that phase in starting in January.

As she envisions it, the group will among other things identify people with no photo ID, such as the estimated 41,000 in Mecklenburg County, and help them get one.

“North Carolina can be a national model,” Lewis said. “And how cool would that be?” Jim Morrill

Tea party PAC’s Pittenger attack questioned

A Charlotte tea party leader is questioning the legitimacy of a tea party group that went after Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger last week.

Pittenger got a letter this week from the Virginia-based Tea Party Leadership Fund PAC expressing dismay over his vote last month to end the government shutdown.

Pittenger was one of 87 House Republicans who joined House Democrats in voting for the measure that ended it. Tea party allies opposed the measure, holding out for changes in Obamacare and concessions in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

Dan Backer, the Leacership PAC’s treasurer and general counsel, asked Pittenger to return the $1,000 contribution the group gave him in June.

“You have failed to honor your commitment to your constituents and the values they entrusted you to uphold,” Backer wrote. “You chose to disregard your pledge to these American voters and now must be held accountable.”

Pittenger included the message in a fundraising letter to supporters, reminding them that he voted against the Affordable Care Act 15 times.

“I just didn’t feel like what they (the tea party) were pursuing made sense,” Pittenger told the Observer. “I’m fully committed to dismantling Obamacare. ... What I think they didn’t understand ... is the political process. They only had 14 votes in the Senate. There’s no way it would pass.”

But Christian Hine, president of the Charlotte tea party, blogged on Pundit House that he had never heard of the Leadership PAC. He cited reports by the Center for Responsive Politics that last year, the PAC raised nearly $1 million but spent only 27 percent on candidates.

This year, there’s a similar pattern, with more than $63,000 going to DB Capitol Strategies, owned by Backer. (Backer said his firm provided services to the PAC. “We never pretend to be volunteers,” he said.)

Hine called the PAC “a fake Tea Party organization dedicated to enriching those who run it.”

“Pittenger is able to utilize the non-existent threat as a motivational tool in a fundraising letter,” Hine wrote. “Looks like a win-win here. This group gains some exposure as ‘taking on the establishment’ ... Pittenger on the other hand gets to use the worthless hit piece as a catalyst to fundraise even more dollars against the perceived threat.”

Said Backer: “I just find it annoying when conservatives attack each other over nonsense instead of substance.” Jim Morrill

Off to the races?

A scrum of would-be candidates appears to be lining up to run for the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, the long-serving Greensboro Republican. Among them: a pair of NASCAR drivers.

Roll Call reports that possible candidates could include Kyle Petty, who now hosts shows on the Speed Channel, and semi-retired driver Terry Labonte. Jim Morrill

Group: Ad attacking Hagan ‘false’

A leading fact-checking website is calling one claim in a political TV ad appearing in North Carolina “false.”

Politifact.com took at look at the Americans for Prosperity ad attacking Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan for her support of the federal health care law. The AFP ad claims Hagan “supports waivers for friends of Obama and special treatment for Congress and their staffs.”

The fact checkers concluded: More than 1,000 companies have received Obamacare waivers, but there’s no evidence to suggest that those groups are all Obama’s “friends.” Meanwhile, Congress and their staffs do have to adhere to the reform’s individual mandate, and in a key way are treated worse than other Americans by the law, which is a curious definition of “special treatment.”

“We rate Americans For Prosperity’s claim False.” The (Raleigh) News & Observer

Brannon admits plagiarizing Rand

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon is acknowledging his campaign lifted material from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s website.

Brannon’s campaign website includes descriptions of his stance on major policy issues that appear identical to passages on Paul’s 2010 campaign site. It comes as Paul himself faces questions about plagiarism, The New York Times reported Thursday.

In a statement Friday, Brannon said a member of his staff drafted the pages for his website and he signed off. “I reviewed them, agreed with every word, and approved them,” he said. “While I am sorry it was copied, it completely captures my views on the issues.”

Brannon is a first-time political candidate aligned with the tea party. A physician, he lives in Cary. Paul recently endorsed Brannon in a four-way GOP primary that includes House Speaker Thom Tillis, who polls show is the early frontrunner.

Brannon said his campaign would “revise and footnote (the website) to make the source clear.” The (Raleigh) News & Observer

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