MIXED PICTURE FOR SPECIAL SESSION

Representatives and senators in the North Carolina General Assembly are back in Raleigh Sept.12-15 to deal with unfinished business. Not about jobs. No bills on the table dealing with the business climate. The pressing issue is same-sex marriage.

North Carolina already has a state law prohibiting marriage vows for same gender partners. But fearing the courts could overturn such a law, legislative leaders are pushing for a constitutional amendment. If three-fifths of the members approve, the proposed constitutional ban will be on the General Election ballot in November 2012.

For the House to get a three-fifths majority, at least five Democrats will have to sign on with the Republicans. At this point, it is expected enough Democrats will vote for the bill to have it on the November ballot. Republicans believe the issue will increase a turnout of their base.

LET THE FRENZY BEGIN

Legislators cannot accept campaign contributions while they are in session. But after the session ends Sept. 15, the fund-raising frenzy commences. Money flows to the party and the leaders who control the General Assembly agenda. Thus far, Republicans have out-raised Democrats nine to one, according Board of Election reports. The pay-to-play sponsorships run from $4,000 to $500, with large corporate PACs targeted for upper level amounts. Tickets to the event usually run $250. Some legislators will accumulate hundreds of thousands of dollars, most of which will be given to candidates of their party.

Leaders of both parties hold green stamps to push the caucus agenda.

Gov. Beverly Perdue and Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton separately are combing the state for money to finance their re-election campaigns. Recent polls show Perdue trails former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory if the election were held today. However, Perdue’s approval figures moved up significantly following her handling of Hurricane Irene impact on Eastern North Carolina.

NEW DISTRICTS IN COURT

As expected, Democrats appealed the legislative and congressional districts drawn by Republican leaders. And while most districts are contorted shapes, it is expected the federal courts will find them legal. The map drawers in the House and Senate prepared districts that increase opportunities for blacks, while increasing the population of white voters in others. The result: many Democrats were gerrymander out of their districts. Democrats used gerrymandering to enhance their control when they were in charge of redistricting the state.

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