HARRIS BOWS OUT OF NC09 DO-OVER, ENDORSES "BOSS HOGG" COMMISSIONER: In Tuesday's letter, Harris said he and his family struggled with the decision of how to move forward before they agreed to put his health first. "I ... owe it to the citizens of the Ninth District to have someone at full strength during the new campaign," he said. "It is my hope that in the upcoming primary, a solid conservative leader will emerge to articulate the critical issues that face our nation." Harris threw his support behind Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing for the 9th District seat. Rushing hasn't yet declared himself a candidate. "His background and his experience have proven him to stand firm on so many of the issues that concern us, including the issue of life, our national security, and religious freedom. I hope that those who have stood with me will strongly consider getting behind Stony Rushing," he said.
REPUBLICAN IDEOLOGUES LINE UP TO RUN FOR WALTER JONES' NC03 SEAT: At least three North Carolina state lawmakers have entered the race for the Republican nomination in the special election to replace the late Rep. Walter Jones in Congress. And that’s not even half the Republican field. State Reps. Greg Murphy, Michael Speciale and Phil Shepard have announced their candidacies in the 3rd Congressional District, which covers much of Eastern North Carolina. The growing field also includes: Michele Nix, an official with the state party; Phil Law, a Marine who twice ran against Jones; Jeff Moore, who served in former Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration; and Sandy Smith, a political newcomer. Democrat Ollie Nelson planned to announce his candidacy Monday night, according to the Jacksonville Daily News. Jones, a Republican, represented the district from 1995 until he died on Feb. 10.
BILL FILED TO DELAY DALE FOLWELL'S HEALTH PLAN REVAMP: House Bill 184 would create a study group to look at the issue over the next year and delay Folwell's planned changes until at least 2022. The state's hospital association opposed the change, which State Treasurer Dale Folwell has pushed as a cost-saving measure for employees and taxpayers and as part of his ongoing fight with hospitals and insurance companies over price transparency. The bill lays out a study group with four House members appointed by the speaker of the House and four senators appointed by the chamber's president pro tem. The committee would also have representatives from various medical groups, the State Health Plan and the State Employees Association of North Carolina, which has backed the treasurer's play. The matter is one of the bigger – and most heavily lobbied – fiscal decisions before the state legislature this session.
ONCE AGAIN, WE WON'T KNOW WHAT TRUMP AND KIM JONG UN TALK ABOUT: The White House is restricting press access to President Donald Trump's summit in Vietnam with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. Four print reporters, including one from The Associated Press, were prohibited from covering the beginning of Trump's dinner with Kim in Hanoi on Wednesday. That came after two of those reporters asked questions of the president during earlier events at the summit. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement that due to the "sensitive nature of the meetings we have limited the pool for dinner to a smaller group." Sanders initially said no reporters would be allowed into the dinner. But after photographers said they would not cover it without an editorial presence, one print reporter and a radio reporter were allowed in. Trump struck a hopeful tone Wednesday evening, telling reporters at the Metropole hotel that "a lot of things are going to be solved, I hope" and saying he thinks "it'll lead to a wonderful, really a wonderful situation long term."
INDIA AND PAKISTAN FIGHTING LIMITED AIR WAR OVER TERRORIST SUICIDE BOMBING: Pakistan’s military said Wednesday that it shot down two Indian fighter jets that had entered Pakistani airspace, capturing a pilot, in an escalation of hostilities just a day after Indian fighter jets crossed the disputed Kashmir region to launch an airstrike within Pakistan. There are fears that tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors could escalate after Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan promised on Tuesday to retaliate for an incursion by Indian jets hours before. Those strikes were in response to the Feb. 14 suicide bombing by Jaish-e-Mohammed on an Indian paramilitary convoy in Kashmir, which New Delhi vowed to respond to. The suicide bombing killed 40 Indian soldiers, the worst incident in Kashmir in three decades. India’s governing party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is in the middle of a fiercely contested election season, with polls to be held this spring. In the aftermath of the suicide bombing on its paramilitary forces earlier this month, many Indian voters called for vengeance against Pakistan, and Mr. Modi vowed to execute it.