Politics & Government

The Source: Will Harris be invited to Senate debate?

Missing the cut?

A Raleigh TV station plans to broadcast a Republican U.S. Senate debate on April 23, less than two weeks before the primary. But so far, one of the top candidates hasn’t been invited.

Charlotte pastor Mark Harris missed the cut, according to WRAL’s news director.

Debaters will include House Speaker Thom Tillis, Cary physician Greg Brannon and Wilkesboro nurse Heather Grant. It will mark one of Tillis’ first appearances onstage with his rivals.

There are eight Republicans running for the nomination to oppose Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan. News Director Rick Gall said candidates had to hit at least 10 percent in a poll to qualify for the debate when invitations were sent in late March.

“We’re continuing to assess the race and polling numbers,” Gall said in an email.

While Harris’ numbers have sagged in many polls, he’s considered one of the top candidates. At the end of the year, he had more cash on hand than all candidates but Tillis.

“It would be an absolute disservice to the voters of North Carolina to not include Mark Harris in this or any other debate,” said Harris campaign manager Mike Rusher. “We’ve held the date and look forward to receiving the invitation.”

WRAL’s broadcast will come a day after a debate sponsored by the Observer, the Raleigh News & Observer and Time Warner Cable News. Four candidates, including Harris, have been invited.

For that debate, candidates had to reach a 7 percent threshold in three independent polls. Jim Morrill

CHS reviewing parking contract with Cannon’s company

It’s been one of – if not the – biggest customers of former Mayor Patrick Cannon’s parking management company. But now Carolinas HealthCare System is reviewing its contract with E-Z Parking.

E-Z Parking manages 12,000 spaces for the hospital, says CHS spokesman Kevin McCarthy.

That’s 78 percent of all the hospital spaces and almost half the 25,000 spaces managed by E-Z Parking.

McCarthy said the contract is undergoing a regular review that started in January, two months before Cannon resigned his office after being arrested on corruption charges. Jim Morrill

An 83-year-old GOP teenager

Eighty-three-year-old retiring U.S. Congressman Howard Coble is receiving an Honorary Teenage Republican award.

The North Carolina Federation of Teenage Republicans was slated to present Coble with the award on Saturday at an event in Greensboro. Coble plans to retire at the end of his current term. He served the 6th District for nearly three decades.

“Even though I turned 83 years old last month, I am proud to be named an Honorary Teenage Republican by the North Carolina Teenage Republicans,” Coble said in a statement.

“Serving the people of the 6th District, including the outstanding youth(s) who reside in our district, has kept me young for all of these years,” Coble added. Franco Ordonez

Candidate seeking 2 offices at the same time

Democrat James “Smuggie” Mitchell has been in an unusual position: He’s trying to get elected to two offices at the same time.

Charlotte’s City Council will vote for a new mayor Monday night to replace previous office holder Patrick Cannon. Mitchell, a former council member who lost to Cannon last fall, has been a top contender.

He is also one of seven Democrats running in the 12th Congressional District, where he faces a primary next month.

Which job does he want more?

“I am a proven leader,” he said in a statement, “and want to serve the citizens of this community and region in a capacity where I can be the most effective.” Jim Morrill

A top N.C. safety official departs

A top public safety official in the McCrory administration unexpectedly announced last week that he is leaving.

W. Ellis Boyle, the No. 2 at the state Department of Public Safety, resigned after weeks of talks with agency Secretary Frank Perry.

In a letter to Perry released Friday, Boyle did not give a reason for what prompted his departure, except to say he was “resigning to pursue other professional opportunities.”

Boyle served as the deputy secretary and general counsel. His resignation is effective Monday, the letter states.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to work for you and this department,” he wrote in the letter. “However, per our conversation over the past few weeks, I am resigning to pursue other professional opportunities effective April 7.”

Boyle, who did not return a call for comment, is the son of Federal District Court Judge Terrence Boyle. He joined the agency as general counsel in February 2013.

A spokesman for Gov. Pat McCrory said he was not involved in Boyle’s departure.

Under Perry, Boyle moved into the post as deputy in September. His prior experience includes time as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The (Raleigh) News & Observer