PENCE TO THROW BIG-MONEY FUNDRAISER FOR TILLIS IN GREENSBORO: Vice President Mike Pence will attend a fundraising dinner with Sen. Thom Tillis in Greensboro on May 22, an important sign of support from the administration for Tillis, who faces a primary challenge in 2020. Tillis, from has faced criticism from some North Carolina Republicans for not sufficiently backing Trump on immigration issues, notably Trump’s national emergency declaration. Tillis, who wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post explaining his rationale for voting against the emergency declaration, voted with the president after the backlash. Tucker, in his first television ad, hit Tillis for his “flip flop” on the issue. Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and the party’s national deputy finance chair Louis DeJoy — the former CEO of New Breed Logistics and a Republican mega donor — will also attend the event. DeJoy hosted a fundraiser for President Donald Trump at his home in 2017. The event has giving levels from $2,800 to $35,000.
9TH DISTRICT REPUBLICAN PRIMARY IS TODAY, RUNOFF A DISTINCT POSSIBILITY: In case you forgot, a Republican primary in the 9th Congressional District is on Tuesday. A new election was called after Republican Mark Harris, who won the nomination last year and seemed to best Democrat Dan McCready in November's general election, acknowledged the need for a do-over following revelations that his operative in Bladen County likely paid people to illegally collect absentee ballots. Recent polling shows Bishop is the front-runner for the GOP nomination, with Rushing in second place. Meredith College political science professor David McLennan said it's been tough for candidates to differentiate themselves, given the large field and the short campaign. He said they have been competing to be perceived as the most like President Donald Trump. "That's smart on their part because, if we even look at the early voting, it's been older, whiter – by extension more conservative – than we'll expect to see in a general election," McLennan said.
DUKE ENERGY-WRITTEN 5 YEAR PLAN HEADS LIST OF ENVIRONMENTAL BILLS THAT SURVIVED CROSSOVER: Cassie Gavin, director of government affairs with the North Carolina Sierra Club, said Senate Bill 559 means the commission could go as long as five years between rate cases. That’s important, she said, because the rate increase hearings are when environmental organizations are given an opportunity to make their case on major issues on the record. “That’s where we weigh in to try and get better environmental outcomes from Duke Energy,” Gavin said, adding that it’s when groups push for things like closing coal plants and not making ratepayers cover the cost of coal ash cleanup. “We could see our chances to weigh in reduced to twice a decade,” she said. The bill passed the Senate earlier this month 27-21. Gavin said other key bills she’s watching are House Bill 645, which would scale back local authority over billboards, and House Bill 823, which encourages reductions in the use of single-use plastic and calls on the Environmental Review Commission to conduct a related study. H823 passed the House last week by a vote of 115-1, with Rep. Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort, casting the lone “no” vote. Also clearing crossover was House Bill 812, Nutrient Offset Amendments, a bill that would extend the areas developers could use for nutrient offset projects.
TRUMP FIRED KIRSTJEN NIELSEN FOR TRYING TO PROTECT IMMIGRANT FAMILIES: In the weeks before they were ousted last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello challenged a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities. According to seven current and former Department of Homeland Security officials, the administration wanted to target the crush of families that had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border after the president’s failed “zero tolerance” prosecution push in early 2018. The ultimate purpose, the officials said, was a show of force to send the message that the United States was going to get tough by swiftly moving to detain and deport recent immigrants — including families with children. But Vitiello and Nielsen halted it, concerned about a lack of preparation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, the risk of public outrage and worries that it would divert resources from the border. Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller and ICE Deputy Director Matthew Albence were especially supportive of the plan, officials said, eager to execute dramatic, highly visible mass arrests that they argued would help deter the soaring influx of families.
JOHN BOLTON'S OBSESSION WITH IRAN IS LEADING US TO (ANOTHER) WAR: At a meeting of President Trump’s top national security aides last Thursday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, administration officials said. The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser. They do not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops, officials said. The development reflects the influence of Mr. Bolton, one of the administration’s most virulent Iran hawks, whose push for confrontation with Tehran was ignored more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush. “We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an escalation that is unintended really on either side,” said Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary.