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North Carolina - Republicans

26
The government is too big, Republicans say. Too much bureaucracy, too much waste, too many overpaid, do-nothing chair-sitters mooching off hard-working taxpayers.
 
Presumably, House Speaker Tim Moore agrees. He’s as eager as any other hard-nosed Republican to cut out the deadwood.
 
But first he has to hire a staff. Here, thanks to Under the Dome, are some of the positions on the Speaker’s staff:
 
-          A Chief of Staff
-          A Deputy Chief of Staff
-          A Communications Director
-          A senior policy adviser
-          A policy advisor on agriculture and education
-          The director of House caucuses/policy analyst
-          A senior policy advisor for health issues
-          A director of boards, commissions and constituent services
-          A policy advisor on transportation and public safety
-          An executive assistant/director of administration
-          Another policy analyst
-          An administrative assistant
 
Once upon a time, House Speakers in North Carolina got by with a couple of administrative assistants and a legislative counsel or two, some of them part-time.
 
Now, apparently, it takes a lot of staff to cut down the size of government.

 

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26
She said Yes. Then No. Then Yes, again.
 
Four years ago, running for Congress, Renee Ellmers told voters she was a nurse who had “held the hands of new born infants.” Yes, she said, she was Pro-Life.
 
Then, last week, she said No to banning abortions after twenty weeks of pregnancy. The idea, she said, was unpopular with younger voters.
 
She won (scuttling the bill) but was pounded by Pro-Life groups: One called her “traitorous.” Another wrote, “She is worse than a Democrat.”
 
Ellmers then did another about-face, announcing she was all for the abortion ban.
 
Yes. No. Then Yes, again. All in one week.


 

 

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22
The liberal folks over at ProgressNC let fly with a broadside at the Governor about his ethics, then let fly again with a press conference and, by then, they had the folks at the Charlotte Observer so stirred up they let fly with broadside of their own asking, Was Pat McCrory fibbing then, or is he fibbing now?
 
The way the liberals tell it Governor McCrory underhandedly omitted facts from his Financial Disclosure Reports to hide conflicts of interest – and that he was paid a lot of money by less than saintly corporations.
 
Now it’s hard to believe anyone – even the liberals – thinks the State Ethics Commission (which as long as anyone can remember has been a toothless tiger) is going to strip the Governor’s epilates off in public but, then again, it may be the Ethics Commission is just a way station on the way to court which is where the liberals really want to end up – which would open a whole new can of worms.
 
Either way, this is no one time liberal rant about the foibles of Republican politicians. ProgressNC has fired the opening salvo in the Governor’s race and they mean to go right on chasing Pat.   


 

 

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22
After being blasted by the liberals (for hiding conflicts of interest) Governor McCrory ran head-on into a second broadside from the opposite direction: Tired of Medicaid wrecking havoc on its budget the State Senate served notice on the Governor his time is up – he’s had his chance to fix Medicaid and failed so the legislature’s going to appoint an Independent Board to solve the problem.    
 
Now, for the Governor, there’s two ways to look at the Senate’s proposal. It’s certainly a slap in the face. But, on the other hand, it may be a blessing in disguise. After all, the Senate just proposed to take the biggest tarbaby in all of state government off the Governor’s hands –so, perhaps, the practical thing for him to say would be, Thank heavens. Take it. You’re welcome to do it – but, of course, instead the Governor’s fighting the Senate tooth and nail. He dislikes losing control of roughly half of state government even more than he disliked the Legislature setting up a Commission to handle the coal ash cleanup.
 
Now all this sounds like there’s a great deal of hostility between the Governor and the Senate but, in a way, the Senators like the Governor just fine and want him to get reelected –they just think he didn’t get the job done on Medicaid.
 
It’s also hard not to empathize with the Governor: He’s got liberals shooting at him from one side and Republicans shooting at him from the other and whoever claimed the middle ground was the safe place to be never got caught in a crossfire.


 

 

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19
Is there something in the water in Chapel Hill that keeps University big shots from giving straight answers? The same lockjaw that keeps the UNC-CH athletic-academic scandal on the front pages has now spread to the Board of Governors.
 
The board’s non-speak/double-speak non-explanation of why Tom Ross was forced out leaves only one logical inference: It was politics. The chairman might as well have said, “To the victors go the spoils. We’re Republicans, he’s a Democrat, so we pushed him out.”
 
Ross’ forced departure has been rumored for months, if not years, along with the accompanying rumor that Art Pope replace him. The BOG chair said that wouldn’t happen; Pope left the door open. If it does happen after a year-long, national search, the university community may take up pitchforks and torches.
 
You could tell from his statement and from photos that Ross wasn’t happy and wasn’t ready to go. A rumor sprang up immediately that he may run for U.S. Senate. But that’s not likely if he stays in the job another year. And the qualities that make great university presidents do not necessarily make great politicians. See: Erskine Bowles.
 
As a candidate or not, Ross has the network to make an impact in 2016. If he sounds the trumpet, he can mobilize a lot of money behind the candidate or super PAC of his choice.

 

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15
On their first day in session, legislative leaders sent a message to Governor McCrory: We’re back, and we’re in charge.
 
McCrory has talked about three things in recent weeks: He wants more money for economic incentives, he may want to expand Medicaid and he wants a Dix deal with Raleigh (not Charlotte).
 
In their opening-day news conference, Senator Phil Berger and Speaker Tim Moore said flatly that they’re not going to expand Medicaid. Senator Berger said he would wait to hear more about what the Governor wants on incentives. And, while McCrory proclaimed the Dix deal he negotiated “good news” for the city and the state, some legislators act like he handed them a skunk.
 
Three strikeouts would not be a good way to start the year.

 

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12
Here’s an idea for Democratic legislators, one that could be good politics and good for North Carolina: Help Governor McCrory pass his plan for Medicaid expansion.
 
After meeting with President Obama at the White House last week, McCrory said he argued for flexibility to develop a “North Carolina plan.” But, as Carter noted during our appearance on WRAL’s “On the Record,” the Governor has to get his idea past not only Obama, but also Phil Berger and Tim Moore.
 
Here’s where Democrats come in. They can support McCrory’s request to the White House, and enlist our depleted congressional delegation. They can also give McCrory a healthy start on the votes to get expansion through the legislature.
 
That would present House and Senate leaders with a bipartisan plan. Pass it, and they look reasonable. Kill it, and they start this session just like the last one. McCrory, in contrast, would be doing some deft triangulation that plays well for him in 2016.
 
Now, McCrory’s idea is apparently to tie Medicaid expansion to some kind of work requirement. Democrats would want to know if that’s unreasonable or onerous. But if they can work out something with McCrory, both he and they come out ahead – as will half a million North Carolinians who need health insurance and millions more of us who are paying their bills now.

 

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07
John Boehner, Jeb Bush and Pat McCrory took their first steps this week along a Republican Party fault line that offers peril for each of them – and peril for Democrats if they succeed.
 
Boehner had to fend off a conservative challenge to his reelection as Speaker. Two dozen right-wing Republicans abandoned him. Lucky for him, 10 Democrats were absent for Mario Cuomo’s funeral.
 
The same day, Bush moved all-ahead full with a presidential campaign that includes reasonable talk about immigration reform, gay marriage and income inequality, even saying “the income gap is real.” Also striking was what his message didn’t have: the usual red-meat attacks on President Obama.
 
Governor McCrory sang from the same hymnal, pushing two issues that normally are anathema to the North Carolina GOP: job incentives and Medicaid expansion.
 
McCrory even asked Obama for help. Basically, he wants cover so he can say he has a “North Carolina plan” instead of a “Washington (read: Obama) plan.”
 
Democrats will get some jollies watching these less-than-red-hot Republicans walk this precarious precipice. But if the three get by, and look reasonable and effective, Democrats may not be so happy in 2016.

 

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06
No predictions or resolutions! Instead let’s ask the big questions for 2015 for the state’s big three political forces: Governor McCrory, Republican legislators and Democrats.
 
For Governor McCrory, will 2015 be about policy and politics, or about personal ethics? As we tuned out for the holidays, he was eyeball-to-eyeball with the capital media, AP and reporter Michael Biesecker. Nobody blinked.
 
The Governor will have to deal with a fractious and sometimes unfriendly legislature, navigate tricky issues like Medicaid and the budget, and get ready to run again. All the while, he’ll face tough questions about his business ties.
 
As Carter noted, how does he explain getting $600,000 from Lending Tree and what does he think about the company’s shady-looking business practices? As Republican legislators asked privately, how does he defend selling Duke stock after the coal-ash spill? And what exactly did he do, and for whom, at Moore and Van Allen?
 
For Republican legislators, do they continue running student-body right, or run to the middle? What do they do about teacher pay in a tough budget year, especially after many of them ran last year on a promise to raise it to the national average?
 
For Democrats, how do they come back? As usual, they’re divided over the state party leadership. Some of them are discouraged and disappointed after high hopes were dashed in November. Others see hope in how much better they did here than Democrats across the South and the country.
 
A big question will be where to put their emphasis, and their money, for 2016. Get ready for Hillary? Concentrate on Cooper? Pick up more state House seats? Invest again in the tough Senate districts? Challenge Richard Burr? Fill Council of State vacancies? And how do they recruit rising stars for local offices?
 
For all three political teams, these are decisions that shape futures – theirs and the state’s.

 

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29
Gary has a point in his column (below) ‘Pat and Jesse’: Pat McCrory’s fight with the Associated Press isn’t like Jesse’s long-running battles with the media.
 
In Jesse’s eyes, the media was biased. It didn’t like his conservative philosophy. Plus, as Senator John East once said admiringly, Jesse was a brawler. Part of him loved a good fight. But he was also subtle, picking his fights (with the media) on issues most people agreed with him on.
 
Pat McCrory’s a different kind of leader. He’s genial and personable and prefers avoiding a fight to diving into the middle of one.
 
But after he read the Associated Press report saying he hadn’t disclosed $600,000 in salary and stock options he’d received for serving on the Board of Lending Tree (an on-line lending company) he lost his geniality – he came out swinging, ripping into the AP saying itwas lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut.
 
The Governor fired both barrels and when the bell rang ending the First Round the AP returned to its corner on wobbly-knees.
 
But the Governor still had a problem too – he’d picked a fight that left him facing a lose-lose proposition: If the AP was right he was in a fix. And if the AP was wrong it was still going to be hard to convince people Lending Tree had paid him $600,000 for his acumen about mortgage banking.
 
When the bell rang for Round Two as soon as he threw the first punch it was clear the Governor meant to cure that problem – because he didn’t even mention Lending Tree.  Instead he lit into the AP saying there were folks in Raleigh and Washington, D.C. who wanted to attack anyone who came out of the private sector and went into public service but, he added, without his time in the private sector he wouldn’t have been as good a mayor of Charlotte as he was and he wouldn’t be doing as good a job as Governor as he is.
 
The way the Governor said it sounded perfectly reasonable – but, in another way, he’d jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.
 
Because next he may hear Roy Cooper asking: And how exactly did working for an on-line lending company that was fined $3 million for misleading consumers make you a better Governor?


 

 

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