Politics & Government

In final stretch, money gets tight

Candidates cover own expenses

You can tell the election is close when more candidates start reaching into their pockets.

In the 12th Congressional District, Charlotte Democrat Malcolm Graham gave his campaign another $13,873 last week. That’s a total of more than $66,000.

Graham has had to counter independent spending for one of his top rivals, state Rep. Alma Adams of Greensboro. Two super PACs have spent more than $186,000 on her behalf, a lot of it to attack Graham.

While Graham has dug deep, he’s not the biggest self-funder in the race.

That would be Charlotte attorney Curtis Osborne, who has fueled his campaign with nearly $135,000 in loans or donations.

And even that pales in comparison to one candidate for the state House.

Cornelius Republican John Bradford, running for House Speaker Thom Tillis’ House seat, has loaned his campaign $160,000. One rival, Lynette Rinker, is in for $55,000. Jim Morrill

Help for Hagan

Two years ago, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri was widely considered the country’s most vulnerable Democratic U.S. senator. She might be able to give some advice to one of this year’s most vulnerable, Kay Hagan.

McCaskill is scheduled to appear with Hagan at a May 16 fundraiser for the North Carolina Democrat at a private home in Charlotte.

McCaskill won re-election when Republican opponent Todd Akin self-destructed with comments about “legitimate rape.” Jim Morrill

2016 preview?

When former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed Thom Tillis last week, he was only the latest 2016 Republican presidential hopeful to take sides in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee stumped for Mark Harris. And on Monday, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul comes to Charlotte to campaign for Greg Brannon.

The three would-be presidential candidates may be courting their own bases as much as helping the Senate hopefuls, says Scott Huffmon, a Winthrop University political scientist.

“It’s easy to read too much into it,” he says. “(But) you definitely want to be thought of as the go-to guy for whatever base you’re going to want in the future.” Jim Morrill

Special elections?

Saturday’s vote by Mecklenburg Democrats was the third party vote in six months to fill a vacancy in the state Senate. It might be one of the last.

State law calls for party officials from a district to fill any legislative vacancies. In Mecklenburg, 49 Democrats filled the seat of former Sen. Dan Clodfelter.

Last month, 149 Buncombe County Democrats chose a successor to the late Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt. In September, four party officials from Orange and Chatham counties named a replacement for Sen. Ellie Kinnaird of Chapel Hill.

Critics say special elections would give more people a chance to fill vacancies and offer more transparency. Lawmakers would have to balance that against the cost of another election.

“There are some folks, both Republicans and Democrats, wanting to look at this to see if there’s a fairer, more open way of doing this,” says Sen. Bob Rucho, a Matthews Republican. Jim Morrill

From McCrory to Walmart

A former adviser to Republicans Pat McCrory and Elizabeth Dole is leaving Charlotte to become director of national media relations for Walmart.

Brian Nick, 38, resigned last week as executive director of Renew North Carolina, a group formed to support McCrory.

Nick, who worked for Strategic Perception, a Republican media firm, had served as Dole’s chief of staff and senior adviser to McCrory. he also worked briefly for Moore and Van Allen, the Charlotte law firm that once employed McCrory.

An Indianapolis native, he started his political career working for Dan and Marilyn Quayle. Jim Morrill

Amnesty issues

A group that wants to reduce the number of immigrants to the United States is pushing candidates and members of Congress to sign its pledge not to support work permits or legal status for illegal immigrants, and it’s criticizing Rep. Renee Ellmers for not signing it.

The U.S. Immigration Reform Political Action Committee, in a news release Friday, said it backed Ellmers’ opponent in Tuesday’s Republican primary for the 2nd District, Frank Roche, who has also been attacking her on immigration policy. Roche signed the pledge.

The pledge is a promise never to vote for legislation that would grant work legal status for people who entered the United States without documentation.

The Hill reported on Friday that the pledge is modeled on anti-tax activist Grover Norquist’s pledge that made lawmakers promise never to raise taxes. Laura Ingraham, the conservative radio host, is tracking who signs it, the paper said. Ellmers in March got into an on-air argument with Ingraham, who accused Ellmers of sounding like a liberal.

Ellmers wrote in a commentary this year that she is opposed to amnesty but favors “earned legal work status” for those who pay a penalty, admit to violating the law and verify their identity. The (Raleigh) News & Observer