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Entries in North Carolina (29)

Wednesday
Aug142013

Civil Rights Groups Vow to Overturn NC Voting Reform Law

Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- North Carolina's sweeping and restrictive new voting law is facing multiple legal challenges from civil rights groups that argue it discriminates against black and young voters.

Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill Monday, which goes into effect in 2016. Among other things, the law requires voters to bring state-issued photo IDs to the polls, cuts down early voting time by one week, eliminates same-day voter registration, and bans pre-registration for youth voters who will turn 18 on Election Day.

The American Civil Liberties Union, along with two other groups, immediately filed a legal challenge that argues the law attempts to suppress minority voters, thereby violating the Constitution and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The NAACP has filed a similar suit.

Allison Riggs, a staff attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said in a statement, "Taken together, the new restrictions in this law will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of eligible voters, depriving many of our most vulnerable citizens from being able to easily exercise a constitutional right."

A third lawsuit will challenge the voter ID provision under the state's constitution, according to The Nation.

McCrory and Republican lawmakers noted that voter ID laws are popular in opinion polls and stated that the North Carolina law is simply meant to prevent voter fraud.

But Democrats and civil rights groups argue that voter fraud is a negligible problem in North Carolina. And moreover, they say that Republicans are simply trying to improve their chances of winning elections by preventing young and minority voters -- who tend to vote Democrat -- from casting ballots.

North Carolina is the latest battleground on voting rights. Last June, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that required certain states with a history of racial discrimination, including North Carolina, to get federal permission before changing their voting laws.

Since the restrictions were removed, several states have moved swiftly to enact new voting laws. The Justice Department has already indicated it will pursue legal action against Texas for its new voter ID law, and North Carolina could be next on the list.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov062012

North Carolina Elects First Republican Governor in Two Decades

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- (NEW YORK) --  North Carolina elected a Republican governor for the first time in more than two decades Tuesday night.

GOP candidate Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor who had been leading in local polls in the final days leading up to the election, defeated Democratic candidate Walter Dalton, the state's lieutenant governor. It's the first time North Carolina has elected a Republican governor since 1988.

Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue, who narrowly beat McCrory in 2008, served one term but was not seeking re-election.

North Carolina was a big target for Republicans in winning gubernatorial seats. The Republican Governors Association spent nearly $6 million in advertising buys to support McCrory and link Dalton to Perdue after a grand jury indicted one of Perdue's top aides for allegedly scheming to pay a staff member off the books in violation of state election laws.

Jennifer Duffy, a political analyst for Cook Political Report, a non-partisan election analyst group, said state Democrats made a mistake putting up Dalton against McCrory.

"Beverly Perdue was so unpopular she couldn't run for a second term," Duffy said. "It's easy to tag [Dalton] with everything she did, so Democrats kind of gave up on that one two or three weeks ago."

However, a big gubernatorial win for Democrats came in New Hampshire, one of three statehouse races that were considered toss-ups in the final days leading up to the election.

Democratic candidate Maggie Hassan, a former state Senate majority leader who had kept a slight lead in a tight race over the past few days, beat Republican challenger Ovide Lamontagne, despite the Republican Governors Association dumping a reportedly $6 million advertising buy into Lamontagne's campaign over the weekend.

Current New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat who has been in office for eight years, is retiring after his term.

It's an important win in the Democrats' column because New Hampshire, despite its meager four electoral votes, is considered a key battleground state in the presidential election. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney made last-minute campaign stops there before Election Day.

Eleven states are voting for governors Tuesday, and Republicans are aiming for a historic election night in statehouse races. The GOP now holds a total of 30 gubernatorial seats to the Democrats' 19. One state, Rhode Island, has an independent governor. If Republicans can grab four new seats, it will push their number to 33, the highest for the GOP in almost a century.

Six incumbent governors face re-election, four Democrats and two Republicans. Democrats grabbed the first two gubernatorial wins of the night with incumbent victories in Vermont and Delaware, two states that ABC News projects will also go to President Obama.

In those states, both of which were expected to remain blue, Democratic incumbents Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware and Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont were elected to second terms. In the presidential race, Obama picked up three electoral votes in each state.

But two Democratic incumbents, Jay Nixon of Missouri and Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia, both face serious Republican challenges.

If Nixon wins, he will be the first Missouri governor to be re-elected in 16 years. In West Virginia, Tomblin faces GOP challenger Bill Maloney, whom he narrowly defeated in a special election just last year after then-governor Joe Manchin won a seat to the Senate.

Jack Dalrymple, the Republican incumbent for North Dakota, cruised to a second term, and Utah's Gary Herbert, also a Republican incumbent, is expected to do the same.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct292012

How Sandy Affects Early Voting in Swing States

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- There are five battleground states in Sandy’s path including Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.

Pennsylvania and New Hampshire do not offer in-person early voting, so it’s likely that the storm won’t have much of an impact on voting in either of those states, but in Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina early voting is increasingly popular. Below is a look at how the storm has impacted early voting in these battlegrounds.

VIRGINIA

Virginia is the state where Sandy is having a strong impact on early voting, looking at the size of the voting population in the affected areas. In Virginia, 21 voter offices were closed Monday, according to a list provided by the State Board of Elections. The affected counties encompass several large metropolitan areas in the northern portion of the state, including both Democrat and Republican friendly areas.

For the Democrats, the normally Dem friendly counties of Arlington and Fairfax, as well as the city of Alexandria closed their offices today. For Republicans, GOP-leaning Loudoun County was also closed.

As of now only one county, Accomack County, has announced that the voter office is going to be closed Tuesday as well. Accomack is located on the Eastern Shore and makes up part of the Delmarva Peninsula.  McCain narrowly carried this county in 2008 with 50.1 percent to Obama’s 48.7 percent, but there were less than 20,000 votes cast there in total.

More closings could be announced as the storm continues to smash into the East Coast.

OHIO


It appears as though Sandy hasn’t affected early voting in Ohio in any noticeable way. The Secretary of State’s office tells ABC News that they haven’t received any reports of issues from any of the 88 counties in the state. Every county in Ohio is required to file emergency plans with the Secretary of State’s office as part of their elections proceedings.

Vote-by-mail appears to be a significantly more popular means of casting an early vote in Ohio. As of the most recent report from the Secretary of State’s office, out of the 800,000 plus votes that have come in so far in Ohio, a little more than 600,000 have come from mail-in absentees, while less than 200,000 have come from in-person voting.

NORTH CAROLINA

The State Board of Elections reports that over the weekend the early voting sites in Dare County, which includes the Outer Banks, and Ocracoke Island, which is located in Hyde County, closed on Saturday. Early voting sites in Pamlico County, located along the Atlantic in the middle portion of the state, closed on Sunday. The SBE reports on their website that Dare County early voting sites are closed “until tomorrow” and there is no word yet about when they will reopen. McCain carried Dare and Pamlico counties in 2008, while Obama narrowly carried Hyde County.

Sandy is not expected to affect the big vote centers of Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte and their surrounding counties where forecasts call for a few showers, cloud cover, and wind Monday and Tuesday.

ABC News rates Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire as toss-ups. North Carolina is rated as leaning Republican while Pennsylvania is rated as leaning Democrat.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct022012

Biden Says Middle Class ‘Has Been Buried Last Four Years’

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Vice President Joe Biden, criticizing Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan for a plan he said will raise taxes on the middle class, instead stepped on his campaign’s message by saying the middle class has been “buried” over the last four years -- the time President Obama has been in office.

“This is deadly earnest. How they can justify- - how they can justify raising taxes on the middle class that has been buried the last four years? How in the Lord’s name can they justify raising their taxes?  We’ve seen this movie before,” Biden said to a crowd of 1,000 at the Fillmore Charlotte.

The Republican National Committee and the Romney campaign quickly pounced on a statement. The RNC circulated the clip and the Romney campaign called Biden’s comments a “stunning admission.”

“Vice President Biden made a stunning admission today and we couldn’t agree more: the middle class has been ‘buried’ under the last four years of this President’s policies. Under President Obama, the middle class has suffered from crushing unemployment, rising prices and falling incomes. They can’t afford to be ‘buried’ for four more years. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will take our nation in a new direction and are offering exactly what hardworking families need -- real reforms for a real recovery,” Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement.

An Obama campaign official said Biden has said throughout his time on the campaign trail that the Bush administration was responsible for the burdens placed on the middle class.

“As the Vice President has been saying all year and again in his remarks today, the middle class was punished by the failed Bush policies that crashed our economy -- and a vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan is a return to those failed policies.  With more than five million private-sector jobs created since 2010, the Vice President and President Obama will continue to help the middle class recover and move the nation forward,” the campaign official said.

Nearly one month after the Democratic National Convention, Biden returned to Charlotte for the first time and tried to draw a contrast between Obama and Romney’s positions on tax cuts for the middle class.  Biden swiped at the GOP ticket for not being on the same message when it comes to middle-class tax cuts, pointing to Romney’s statement at a rally in Ohio last week where he said, “I admit this, [President Obama] has one thing he did not do in his first four years -- he’s said he’s going to do in the next four years, which is to raise taxes.”

“Then they come along and they say well we raised taxes on the middle class. How many times you hear Obama and Biden raise taxes on the middle class? Well even Romney had what we Catholics say is an epiphany. Romney come out and said the following. He said, ‘They have not raised taxes on the middle class.’ But apparently Paul Ryan has not gotten the memo,” Biden said to a crowd of over a thousand at the Fillmore Charlotte.  “I’m serious. They know it. The President didn’t raise taxes on the middle class. Yet, turn on the ads. We cut taxes for everyone in the middle class! Three thousand and six hundred dollars.”

Biden, who was working off a teleprompter, struggled with pinpointing a vote Ryan made, stumbling when he tried to explain how it played out.

“They still say we really urgently want to deal with it now.  Basic, I think my opponent said something like, you know, I don’t know, he said something about he has regrets or I don’t know, something he wished he hadn’t voted that way.  OK? I don’t want to, I don’t want to mis-- I don’t want the press saying I misquoted him, but … he went back and said I did that but I kind of wish I didn’t, whatever,” Biden said.

Ryan has said before that he regrets certain votes on spending that he made when Republicans dominated Congress and President Bush was in office.

Biden is on his sixth trip to the battleground state of North Carolina and encouraged supporters to spread the word about voter registration, which ends Oct. 12.

“By the way, before I get started, I want to remind y’all of what you already know, but it’s worth saying again and again: the deadline to register in North Carolina is Oct. 12.  And if you’re already registered or folks that, if you’re not registered yet, there’s folks at the door literally with clipboards, our team out there, who are willing to help you get that process going,” Biden said.  “The reason we’re going to win North Carolina is we’re going to have the best ground game you’ve ever seen in this state.”

At the top of his speech, Biden apologized to the crowd for the hour delay in the event.  Air Force Two was forced to circle in the air for more than 30 minutes before landing due to bad weather.

“As the traveling press can tell you, there are some queasy stomachs on our plane,” Biden said at the start of the event. “We got off late because of weather and we got here and we had to make several passes before we landed.  That’s why we’re late, I promise you we take you seriously. Blame it on the weather.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

NC Governor: Americans Don’t Blame Obama for Partisan Gridlock

ABC News(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue says the American people don’t blame President Obama for last summer’s struggle to pass a deficit reduction package.

Speaking to Rick Klein, Amy Walter and Yahoo!’s Olivier Knox at the Democratic National Convention Thursday, the Democratic governor said it was the partisan politics of other elected officials across the country, unwilling to reach across the aisle, that prevented Obama from doing more during his first four years in office.

“You can’t get to the solutions that is [sic] demanded by America without having people who are willing to compromise,” Perdue said. “That’s what makes politics work. That is not the president’s fault.”

Perdue, who said in January she would not run for re-election as governor of the Tar Heel State, blamed Tea Party politicians for Congress’ struggle with the debt ceiling negotiations.

She had high hopes for North Carolina, saying Obama could carry the state.

“I believe this president will be able to take it to the people once he’s re-elected he can go out there state by state, and say, ‘Shame on you all for not working for the benefit of America,’” Perdue said. “And I believe Americans are looking for the kind of leaders who are hopeful.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

NC Sen. Kay Hagan Says ‘We Had This Stadium Totally Booked’

ABC News(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan didn’t hold back on the ABC News/Yahoo News DNC Live Show Wednesday, expressing the frustration many people in her home state feel after being shut out of President Obama’s speech Thursday at the Democratic National Convention.

“You know, people were waiting around the blocks at all of the OFA offices across North Carolina, waiting in line for hours,” she told ABC’s Amy Walter and Rick Klein.  “We had this stadium totally booked … and people are definitely very, very disappointed.”

Hagan also sprung to the defense of fellow Sen. Claire McCaskill, who’s facing a tough re-election battle against Rep. Todd Akin, attacking his now-notorious comments about “forcible rape” last month.

“Every rape is a forcible rape,” Hagan said.  “I think every woman in America,  I think every man in America, needs to be concerned about that.  They have wives.  They have daughters.  You know, this is something that shouldn’t be on a political stage, talking about issues that are as important as that.”

Even though McCaskill isn’t at the convention, she predicted a win for her fellow senator in November.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug242012

Paul Ryan Criticizes Obama on Defense Cuts

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) -- At a defense roundtable in the town that’s home to Fort Bragg, Paul Ryan spoke out against the looming $500 billion defense cuts, saying the president needed to explain how automatic, across-the-board cuts to the defense budget would affect military jobs and defense contracts.

“Put up or shut up,” Ryan said, addressing the budget cuts.  “The president needs to show us how he plans on putting this in place if he is not going to help us pass legislation preventing it in the first place.”

Ryan, the House Budget chairman, originally voted for legislation that included the cuts, known as sequestration, and praised them at the time.  But on Thursday, his spokesperson Michael Steel said what Ryan voted for was “bipartisan deficit reduction.”

“The president instead went AWOL on the campaign trail and the result is the devastating defense cuts that the president insisted on,” Steel said after the roundtable.

Ryan said in a Romney-Ryan administration they would make sure the cuts “will not happen.”

“We believe in the doctrine of peace through strength,” Ryan said.  “Strength means having strong national defense, and that is why we are steadfastly opposed to the president’s reckless and devastating defense cuts.”

The vice presidential candidate has simplified the reasons behind the cuts on the campaign trail, which are part of a political battle that began brewing last summer.  They are mandated by the Budget Control Act, which was signed into law last August by President Obama in exchange for a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit.

House Speaker John Boehner insisted that any increase in the debt limit be matched dollar-for-dollar in spending cuts and reforms, but as the federal government ran critically low on cash, Congress had only agreed to about $1.2 trillion in savings.  Still, the debt limit was increased under an agreement that called on a “supercommittee” to negotiate an additional $1.2 trillion in savings, or face sequestration -- meaning the automatic cuts that include those defense cuts and items unpalatable to each party.

After the supercommittee failed to strike a deal, the country was left with sequestration.  The Obama administration, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, has warned what the cuts would mean for the military.

North Carolina has a $23 billion defense industry, and the roundtable was held at the Partnership for Defense Innovation, a tax-exempt nonprofit that promotes economic development.  There were military families onhand, including a gold star mother as well as Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.).

Ryan tried to personalize what the cuts would mean for members in the audience.

“Only in America do you have young people like this who are inspired by the ideals of our country and who have this pathway.  And in this case, a pathway out of poverty and into a life of self-discipline, of self-sufficiency, of pride.  It’s amazing what this does for our culture.  Not to mention our strength as a country,” he said.

The Obama administration almost immediately responded to the event, saying Ryan wasn’t “serious about avoiding the automatic defense cuts” and if he were, “he’d tell Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans in Congress to work with the president to achieve balanced deficit reduction that includes asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share -- as the plan President Obama has put forward does.”

“But he’s not.  In fact, Congressman Ryan voted for the agreement he criticized today, and he walked away from a balanced deficit reduction plan last summer because he thought it would help the President’s re-election prospects.  And Mitt Romney himself has said that he didn’t want Congress to act, despite looming defense cuts. Congressman Ryan and Mitt Romney should show some leadership to avoid these cuts instead of using our military budget to score a political point,” Obama spokesperson Danny Kanner said in a statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug172012

Secret 'Menu' Details Perks for Big Democratic Donors

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Those seeking invites to the most lavish receptions at the 2012 Democratic National Convention -- "gold ticket" access to "dialogues," and private breakfast briefings with party luminaries -- can expect a hefty price of admission.

A list of high-end convention packages circulated by the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee, and obtained by ABC News, shows that those and other perks are being offered to donors who raise $1 million or donate $100,000 to the convention's nonprofit planning arm.

The cash-for-access formula has been a longtime staple of national political conventions, and though Democrats told ABC News they have tried to shift the focus to access for grassroots supporters this year, critics say the menu of perks for donors is a reminder that those giving big dollars can still expect special treatment.

"We pride ourselves on being a country of equality, and this kind of arrangement subverts that," said Kathy Kiely, managing editor of the Sunlight Foundation reporting group.  "If you have big money to give, you get a lot more access."

The packages for the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C., are tiered.  Top fundraisers and donors are given "premier credentials" that access luxury suites and the convention floor.  They also grant donors hotel locations with close proximity to party leadership events, and special access to a special hospitality house near the convention floor.

Someone who raises $1 million tops the list, while top flight packages are also spelled out for those who donate $100,000 directly, or raise more than $650,000 (Trustee Package), $500,000 (Piedmont Package), $250,000 (Dogwood Package) and on down.

Democrats say they are trying to move away from the cash for access tradition. This year, the party's contract with the convention host committee included the first ever restrictions on who can donate, and on how much they can give.  The Host Committee announced it would not take corporate or lobbyist money, and that it would limit individual giving to no more than $100,000.

"We've gone further than any convention in history to find ways to provide greater access for the public," said Democratic National Convention Committee spokeswoman Joanne Peters.

Dan Murrey, the executive director of the Host Committee said in a statement to ABC News that his group is "raising money for this convention in a way that has never been done before."

The committee hired a full time grass roots finance director, and tried to be creative in enticing smaller donors to contribute to the event -- even sponsoring a barbecue sauce competition, a poster contest, and a chance for anyone donating $3 to win a trip to the convention with the airfare and hotel provided.

With just weeks left to go, Murrey said the host committee had raised money from nearly 65 times more individuals than did the Denver committee.

"Our grassroots fundraising has exceeded expectations in terms of broadening the donor base and engaging more people in the effort," he said.

Melanie Roussell, a DNC spokeswoman, added that she believes the Charlotte convention "will demonstrate what we've been arguing all along -- that the president and Democrats are on the side of working families and committed to strengthening the economy from the middle class out."

For those promised access to special events in exchange for large donations, the Democrats host committee has left unspoken just how much access, and to whom, their money will buy.  While the convention packages dangle opportunities to attend "dialogues" and "breakfast briefings," there is no indication noted about the identities of the dignitaries who will attend.

The money raised by the committee is not intended to be spent on the president or Democratic members of congress, but to help cover the roughly $36 million budget to throw the event.  Similarly, the Tampa Bay Host Committee notes on its donor website that the more than $50 million it plans to raise for the August convention "will be used to alleviate the burdens of local government and promote the Tampa Bay area."

If their track record holds, Republicans will be offering even pricier perks for those attending the GOP Convention in Tampa, Fla.  Four years ago, the Republican convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul provided donors of $5 million or more a private dinner and a separate golf outing with the Republican leadership.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul032012

NC Lawmaker Fracks Up Her Vote

(NEW YORK) -- A veto by North Carolina’s Democratic governor was overridden Monday night because a Democrat in the state House cast the deciding vote, by accident.

The lawmaker, Becky Carney, accidentally pushed a green button at her desk voting for the override, instead of a different button. Under state rules, legislators can change their votes if they make a mistake, but only if the changed vote wouldn’t affect the result.

In Carney’s case, she was the 72nd person to vote for the override, the exact number needed to do so.

WRAL notes:

Just after the vote, Carney’s voice could be heard on her microphone, saying, “Oh, my gosh. I pushed green.”

Because of Carney’s blunder, a fracking bill that Gov. Beverly Perdue had vetoed is now law.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun222012

Romney Tailors ‘First 100 Days’ Ads to Swing States

Darren McCollester/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney’s campaign released four ads Friday morning specifically tailored to the battleground states of Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia.

The 30-second ads, each titled, “100 Days” followed by the corresponding state name, explain how Romney would handle the important issues of each state within his first 100 days in office.  Three of the four ads, excluding Ohio’s, mention Romney’s commitment to repealing President Obama’s health care plan.  

Voters in Virginia and Iowa will see how Romney plans to slash the deficit on day one, with “$20 billion in savings.”

The Iowa ad says Romney will work on balancing the budget and that his first 100 days will result in ”fewer worries about their future and their children’s future” for the people of Iowa.

The ad in industrial-based Ohio emphasizes Romney’s commitment to stand up to China, repealing regulations restricting the energy industry, and creating “a better place to do business as we see more factories and jobs coming back.”

North Carolina voters will hear that Romney will move to cut taxes, stabilize the economy and promote new jobs in the banking and technology sectors, and the Virginia ad relays to voters Romney’s willingness to reverse Obama’s ban on offshore drilling, a move Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell supports.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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