30 seconds times 53,500
Tired of political ads? There’s a good reason.
No U.S. Senate race in the country has seen more ads since the start of last year than North Carolina’s, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
Analyzing data from trackers at Kantar Media CMAG, the center found more than 53,500 ads have run in North Carolina since January 2013. That’s nearly 446 hours of political bloodletting in the comfort of your living room.
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In the week of Sept. 9-15 alone, there were 4,800 ads in the race between incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis. The next highest was 4,500, a distinction shared by Iowa and Michigan.
Most of the ads have come not from the candidates or their parties but outside groups, according to the center. Jim Morrill
Democrats continue to hammer on education
Ready for more ads? Roll Call reported that Kay Hagan’s campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are launching a nearly $1 million ad blitz on radio stations geared to African Americans.
The ads echo TV spots and accuse Republican Thom Tillis of cutting education funds as speaker of the N.C. House.
Education spending actually went up last year under Tillis. But Democrats call it a cut because it was $500 million less than what was estimated would be needed.
Since 2008, enrollment in North Carolina schools has grown by nearly 44,000 students. And the cumulative increase in employee salaries and benefits has jumped to $1.2 billion, outpacing budget increases. Jim Morrill
New leadership group forming?
Ever since Charlotte’s business and political leaders came back from the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce-led trip to Minneapolis-St. Paul this summer, they’ve been talking about putting together a roundtable of CEOs who can meet to talk about the major civic issues facing the city.
Many on the trip were deeply impressed by the Itasca Project, a group of 50-plus Twin Cities leaders, mainly CEOs, who meet four or five times annually to craft plans for improving the region’s vitality and quality of life. The group has launched CEO-led task forces that have tackled everything from transit funding shortfalls to higher education challenges to closing the region’s socioeconomic gaps.
Now, it appears a similar group might be forming here. During a panel discussion last week on Charlotte’s banking industry, former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl praised Duke Energy chief Lynn Good as an important force in the city.
“She’s going to provide a lot of leadership to this city. She has called a meeting inviting the CEOs of all large companies in town … to talk about issues facing our city,” he said.
A spokesman for Duke Energy declined to comment when asked about Good’s meetings with CEOs. McColl couldn’t be reached later. When asked whether the meetings were an offshoot of the Minneapolis trip, Charlotte Chamber spokeswoman Natalie Dick responded via email, saying that “there is a lot of discussion currently around the subject,” but the chamber isn’t in a position to confirm that an Itasca-style group is forming. Eric Frazier
Voting case comes to Charlotte
Last May, Ben Fawcett cast a ballot at a south Charlotte precinct near where he worked, not his home precinct in northwest Charlotte.
Until this year, that would have been what elections officials call a provisional ballot, and ultimately counted. But under a new law passed last year and taking effect this year, the ballot didn’t count.
Fawcett’s ballot was one of 454 provisional ballots found by Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, that would have been counted in 2012. Now, out-of-precinct ballots are generally not allowed.
That was one of several changes in a sweeping voting law passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
Groups including the NAACP, the ACLU of North Carolina and the League of Women Voters have sued the state in federal court to put the changes on hold until the case is heard sometime in 2015. A federal judge refused their request last month.
Now the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hold a hearing in Charlotte this week on delaying the changes. A three-judge panel will preside over the case at 1 p.m. Thursday in the federal courthouse on Trade Street.
For 24-year-old Fawcett, it’s frustrating.
“If my vote didn’t count, there’s certainly something wrong,” he said. “You hear, ‘Make your voice count’ and yada, yada, yada. And then you go do it, and it doesn’t even matter.” Jim Morrill
N.C. delegation backs Syria measure
Only two members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation voted against arming Syrian rebels last week.
In the Senate, both Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican Richard Burr voted for the measure, which passed 78-22.
In the House, the only “no” votes came from Republican Reps. Walter Jones Jr. of Pitt County and Mark Meadows of the western 11th District.
United in supporting the measure were the delegation’s three Democrats and seven of the nine Republicans. It passed 273-156. Jim Morrill
Jeter in rare company
The NC League of Conservation Voters has endorsed dozens of legislative candidates this year, but only two Republicans.
The group endorsed state Reps. Charles Jeter of Huntersville and Chuck McGrady of Hendersonville. McGrady is the former president of the national Sierra Club.
Jeter, who faces Democrat Robin Bradford in District 92, is glad to be in that company.
“When they endorse in 47 races … and they only endorse two R’s, I admittedly take great pride in being one of those two,” he said. Jim Morrill