Politics & Government

Malcolm Graham open to rematch in 2016

Graham plans to stay in the game

To an avid tennis player like Malcolm Graham, it wasn’t match point he lost in this month’s Democratic primary in the 12th Congressional District. He just lost the opening set.

“I’m a tennis player, and tennis players have short memories,” he says.

Graham, a state senator from Charlotte, lost the primary to state Rep. Alma Adams of Greensboro. While he split Mecklenburg County’s votes with three other Charlotte candidates, Adams carried each of the district’s five other counties.

Assuming Adams goes on to beat Republican Vince Coakley in the heavily Democratic district, Graham says he’s open to a rematch in 2016. But he’s learned some lessons from this year’s race.

“We know it’s going to take a whole hell of a lot more money,” he says. “(And) Mecklenburg has to rally around the best candidate.” Jim Morrill

Fracking fuss

Only three Senate Democrats were in the majority of the 33-13 vote in favor of the so-called “fracking” bill last week. One was Sen. Joel Ford of Charlotte.

“I voted for the jobs,” Ford said. “The number one issue still facing the state is the economy and jobs. That’s what I ran on.”

The Republican-sponsored bill is likely to face some tough questions in the House – from Republicans.

GOP Rep. Charlie Jeter of Huntersville objected to a provision that would keep the chemical formula of hydraulic fracturing liquids confidential and make its disclosure a felony. A later version changed that to a misdemeanor.

“I just can’t imagine that with the geography of the Carolinas that we would think it’s a good idea to let them put toxic chemicals in the ground near aquifers,” Jeter said. “That’s asinine.” Jim Morrill

Early voting: Days down, numbers up

The Republican-led General Assembly took a lot of criticism last year when it cut North Carolina’s early voting period by a week, from 17 days to 10. So what happened?

The number of early voters in this month’s primaries actually increased over the last off-year primaries.

Early voters made up 25.8 percent of primary voters this month compared with 19.7 percent in 2010, according to data released last week by the state elections board.

Overall statewide turnout was 15.8 percent compared with 14.4 percent in 2010. That’s more than 148,000 additional voters who cast ballots this year.

Mecklenburg County turnout jumped too. All the way from 7.3 percent to 9.6 percent. Jim Morrill

Robert Brawley’s bad month

All in all it hasn’t been a good month for Rep. Robert Brawley of Mooresville.

First he lost his bid for re-election. Then he got kicked out of his Republican caucus.

In a rare move, House Republicans took a vote of “no confidence” that effectively removes Brawley, a vocal critic of Speaker Thom Tillis, from the GOP caucus.

Brawley will remain a member of the Republican majority but can no longer attend its regular meetings. The GOP lawmakers meet privately and largely determine what legislation gets considered.

Brawley suggested Tillis orchestrated the censure in response to his earlier criticism of the speaker.

“I do regret that this caucus is controlled like a dictatorship,” Brawley told a reporter. “The message loud and clear to the public is, ‘Say yes to the speaker or be censored, punished or pushed out.’ ” John Frank

Shinseki an issue in Senate race

Last week, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan called for accountability at the Veterans Affairs department, but stopped short of calling for Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation.

Hagan said the reports of improper scheduling that lead to “life-threatening” delays in care for veterans were unacceptable and an investigation was needed.

But she has refrained from pointing the finger at Shinseki even as others – including her Republican opponent Thom Tillis and even Democrats – demand his resignation.

North Carolina’s Sen. Richard Burr and U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, both Republicans, are among those demanding Shinseki step down.

President Barack Obama has said those responsible for misconduct would be punished. He said he trusted Shinseki. John Frank

Carolina on his mind

President Barack Obama praised the beauty of North Carolina on Wednesday during an impromptu stroll around Washington.

“The bear is loose,” he called out. “It’s good to be out.” Surrounded by several bodyguards, the president said hello to a hot dog vendor and chatted with tourists from China and Germany. An Israeli man told him that it was his birthday.

“Happy Birthday,” said Obama and offered best wishes to all of Israel.

When he met a woman from North Carolina, he gushed about the beauty of the Outer Banks. He gave two young children boxes of White House M&Ms. Some tourists were hesitant to approach the president surrounded by several bodyguards. “We can shake hands. I won’t bite.” Franco Ordonez

A race Hagan can win

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is in a tough race for re-election. But the Greensboro Democrat proved last week that when the starting gun goes off, she’s no slouch.

Hagan was the fastest female senator at the ACLI Capital Challenge running race. The three-mile run pits teams of government, congressional staffers and media types against each other for bragging rights.

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman was the fastest male senator. Arkansas Republican Rep. Tom Cotton and Arizona Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema were the fastest House members. The U.S. Coast Guard was the fastest team. Franco Ordonez