HELLO…ANYONE THERE?

It’s early summer, but the campaigns are matching the record heat of the weather. Poll results are reported weekly and they vary widely. One recently had former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory defeating Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton by 12 percentage points. Another the following week had McCrory up by 2 points—a statistical tie. But are the voters following the campaigns. How many can actually name the candidates running for governor? Walter who? Pat who?

Carter Wrenn, a Raleigh operative who played a leading role in the campaigns of the late Sen. Jesse Helms, makes some interesting points. Polls today are conducted by auto calls. Punch 1 if you prefer Walter Dalton. Punch 2 for Pat McCrory. You don’t know if the person answering the call is eight or eighty. Voters won’t be tuned in until the advertising starts…by candidates and their opponents trying to define them.

After Labor Day political activity will become frantic. Not only for Dalton and McCrory, but also for candidates seeking 120 seats in the N.C. House of Representatives and the State Senate. Contests will be in new districts drawn by the Republicans in 2011. At least 40 percent of the winners will be freshmen and 65 percent will have served in the Legislature for less than two terms when the 2013 session convenes.

Not since the days of Reconstruction will the changes in the Legislature be so dramatic.

HORSE TRADING FOR VOTES:

Eight Democrats joined all Republicans in the House to override Gov. Perdue’s veto of the budget. Why? Some Democrats wanted teachers to also get one and a half percent salary increases, along with state employees. Done. Others wanted ferry tolls for Outer Banks residents delayed for at least a year. OK. Not happy about taking tenure away from teachers? It’s out of the budget. And so the override sailed through the House. The House also overrode the veto the Racial Justice Act and veto of a bill to allow so-called fracking in the drilling for natural gas.

This year at the close of the session people remembered the saying “Nothing is safe in Raleigh while the General Assembly is in town.”

LOOKING AHEAD:

As the economy limps along state revenue growth will be tepid at best. The newly drawn legislative districts will put the wind at the backs of Republican candidates and the agenda of the GOP leaders will be revived…accountability for teachers and performance in public schools, disappearance of tenure, and extensive re-writing of the tax code. (This was long advocated by Democrats in 2009). For the foreseeable future, North Carolina will be dealing with a no-growth budget of $20.2 billion each year.

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