Politics & Government

The Source: Another Charlottean for the Cabinet?

Linda Hudson
Linda Hudson

Another Charlottean for the Cabinet?

Will the White House Cabinet have a North Carolina accent?

Former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx is already a fixture at the Department of Transportation. President Barack Obama’s choice to replace Attorney General Eric Holder is Loretta Lynch, a Greensboro native who grew up in Durham.

Now there’s speculation that Charlotte resident Linda Hudson could become the nation’s new defense secretary.

The Washington Business Journal floated Hudson’s name as a possible successor to Secretary Chuck Hagel, whose departure was announced this month.

Hudson came to Charlotte as president of General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products division. She left in 2007 for BAE, the U.S. subsidiary of London-based BAE Systems. She went on to become CEO, the first woman to lead a major defense contractor.

Hudson now runs a consulting company in Charlotte.

“I have not been approached, nor do I expect to be,” Hudson told the Washington paper. “I am quite happy doing board work and running my consulting company.” Jim Morrill

Writing thrillers in his spare time

They don’t have much to do about transportation, unless you count a furious escape across the Serengeti Plain or a covert raid into Pakistan.

Those are among the plot points by N.C. Transportation Secretary Tony Tata. Writing under the name A.J. Tata, he has spun off a series of thrillers. His fifth, “Foreign and Domestic,” comes out in February.

A West Point graduate, Tata is a retired Army officer whose deployments included Kosovo, the Philippines and Afghanistan, where he was deputy commanding general of U.S. forces. It’s all fodder for the military adventure stories that have led some to compare him to the late Tom Clancy.

Tata, 55, has written most of his life, including in college and in war zones. Now, after long days running DOT, he knocks out 1,000 words a night, 5,000 on weekends.

“Writing fiction has always been something that’s fascinated me,” he says. “I love to read. I love to write.”

His plots are inspired by the latest headlines. The characters in “Mortal Threat,” which will be published as an e-book in January, deal with threats including Ebola and the Islamic State.

“The creative process has always been fun for me,” he says. “The editing process is painful. When it comes out and you get good response, that’s a fun part, too.” Jim Morrill

It’s not even 2016 yet

If you thought you saw a U.S. senator in Ballantyne recently, your eyes weren’t playing tricks.

Ohio Republican Rob Portman was in town to meet with executives at Charlotte-based health care company Premier, part of an effort to occasionally bring members of Congress to its headquarters for briefings.

Premier works with health systems to cut costs and improve quality, so it often finds itself in the middle of health care debates in Washington. In the first three quarters of this year, it spent a little more than $900,000 on lobbying, according to the Senate’s lobbying database, a figure that include salaries, expenses and trade group memberships.

Joining Portman at the recent meeting were Premier CEO Susan DeVore, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Blair Childs and CEOs from health systems that work with Premier.

Portman has been mentioned as a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2016, a year Republicans will hold their nominating convention in Cleveland. But that speculation wasn’t on the agenda when Porter spoke at Premier.

“It was a really interesting conversation,” Childs told the Source. “He was interested in learning more about Premier and what we are doing to improve quality and safely reduce health care costs.” Rick Rothacker

New rules and long ballots

New voting rules prevented as many as 50,000 North Carolinians from voting this month, according to Democracy North Carolina.

The Durham-based group said new rules and long lines in some places “pushed many Election Day polling sites to the breaking point.”

Moreover, it said while more than 21,000 people registered and voted on the same day during 2010 early voting, that option was no longer available.

Last year, the General Assembly passed a series of voting changes. Among those that took effect this year were an end to same-day registration and straight-ticket voting.

In Mecklenburg County, just 39 percent of voters turned out, lower than the 44 percent statewide turnout.

Mecklenburg Board of Elections spokeswoman Kristin Mavromatis said officials prepared for a 65 percent turnout. Even so, the lack of straight-ticket voting and the long ballot led to some delays, particularly at peak voting times.

“We always have lines at 6:30 a.m., and we always have lines at lunchtime,” she said. Jim Morrill

Collecting names for a new party

Pastor Brenda Stevenson knows she’s got a long way to go. But that’s OK with her.

Stevenson has a few dozen names on her petition to start a political party called “It’s Time for a Change.”

She needs a few more to get the 89,365 required to get on the ballot. For Stevenson, who ran for the Charlotte City Council as a Democrat last year, the new party would be about just what the name says.

“So many people we elect say, ‘I’m going to do this for you,’ and they forget,” she said during a break collecting items for her food ministry. “(People) want somebody in office that cares about their needs.” Jim Morrill