Daily dose

At Town Hall, riverkeeper explains coal ash peril (Davidson News) -- Problems with coal ash have grabbed headlines across North Carolina and nationwide since a February spill at Duke Energy’s Dan River plant in Eden. But Dan River is only one of many plants with potential storage problems. Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman is also on the list, but experts say it could be 15 years or longer before Duke closes down the ponds of toxic waste there. But that’s too long, Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins said in a presentation to Davidson commissioners Monday, July 7. The reason for the longer potential cleanup timeline is that Marshall Steam Station has been classified as “low risk” in state legislation aimed at requiring Duke to shut down its coal ash ponds around the state. Perkins says the plant shouldn’t be allowed to continue with business as usual, especially when business as usual means toxic chemicals seeping into the groundwater around Lake Norman.

Black voters skeptical of Republican Party's $10 million courtship campaign (Reuters) -- After losing the 2012 presidential election, Republicans vowed to expand their appeal beyond their shrinking base of white males. But as they concede, winning over black voters is likely to be a long and difficult task. Since opening an African-American engagement office in North Carolina last fall, Republicans have courted black business leaders, visited barber shops and churches and gone door-to-door in black neighborhoods to sell the Republican message. So far, their success has been limited. But they say it is just the first step in a sustained effort to change the party’s image among black voters, the most loyal Democratic voting bloc. “Is it an uphill battle? Absolutely. Are we making grand progress? Absolutely not. But I feel like I’m changing one or two minds here or there,” said Felice Pete, a nurse anesthetist and a member of the state party’s Black Advisory Board. … Earl Philip, North Carolina director of the Republican program, said he emphasizes the party’s commitment to faith, family values and economic opportunity along with support for school choice and help for small businesses. “There is nothing wrong with our message, we just have to do a better job of talking about it,” he said. The RNC so far has spent more than $10 million to hire staff for African-American voter engagement in North Carolina, Michigan, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Wisconsin and Colorado – all states with significant black populations or key midterm races, or both.

Butterfield asks state to intervene on Wilson voting plan, consider alternative (Wilson Times) -- Congressman G.K. Butterfield sent a letter to the State Board of Elections Friday opposing Wilson’s one-stop voting plans

Best 6 Political Campaign Ads of the Summer (TIME) -- Here is our take on 2014′s top 6 political ads of the summer, so far. … 4.”Janey” – Kay Hagan, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senator from North Carolina This Kay Hagan ad hooks you in with a personal story involving a dad, who served in the military, and his daughter, who died of leukemia after drinking the base’s contaminated water. By selecting a particular issue and highlighting Hagan’s work within it, the ad neatly showcases her accomplishments.

Senate ads hope to find their audience as spending increases (WRAL-TV) -- Outside advertisers continue to pour money into the race between Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis. Ad experts say that money isn't just hoping to persuade undecided voters. It also helps keep partisans motivated.

Tillis gets $1.6M in 2nd quarter for NC Senate bid (AP) — Republican Thom Tillis' U.S. Senate campaign says it had its best fundraising quarter to date, yet it was still less than half of what Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan raised during the second quarter.

Tillis raises $1.6 million in second quarter (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis will report he raised more than $1.6 million in the second quarter of this year and has $1.5 million cash on hand. Tillis falls far short of the haul for his Democratic opponent, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan,

As Senate Spotlight Is Given to Vulnerable Democrats, G.O.P. Finds a Dimmer (New York Times) -- Senate Republicans are blocking legislation that they believe is intended to give a lift to Democrats in tough races. Very little is happening in the Senate these days, but what passes for action has a lot to do with re-electing Democrats — or blocking their re-election. Senator Kay Hagan, Democrat of North Carolina, saw her popular sportsmen’s bill crash on the Senate floor on Thursday when her Republican co-sponsors flipped, voting instead to filibuster and ensuring that it would die.

The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act, or Hunting for Cover on Guns (Center for Responsive Politics) -- Despite objections from a handful of Democrats, the Senate voted on Monday to move forward with a pro-hunting bill that has delighted most gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association. Learn all about the money behind this bill, introduced by embattled incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.).

Dems love to hate Akin's book (Politico) -- Democrats might as well start a Todd Akin book club. His new memoir, out next week, has inspired liberal advocacy groups, super PACs and party committees to try to tie Akin’s positions on pregnancy and rape, reiterated in the book, to current Republican candidates. Several groups are also considering fundraising off of Akin. … As he makes the media circuit in New York City and Washington, D.C., many operatives believe that could present even more opportunities for fundraising and bringing up the Republican Party’s stance on social issues. In particular, Democrats see opportunity in states like North Carolina. Recent polls have found Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in a tight race against Republican Thom Tillis, though Hagan has gotten a bump in recent weeks because of unhappiness with the state’s general assembly and Tillis losing ground specifically among women voters. Ben Ray, spokesman for Forward NC – a committee allied with the Hagan campaign, said tying Akin to Hagan’s GOP challenger Thom Tillis and the “Republican war on women” narrative is definitely part of the messaging strategy, which also helps with fundraising. Although Hagan’s allies have yet to use Akin’s comments from the new book, Ray said “it’s certainly on the table.” “It absolutely has our attention,” he said, adding that they might wait until Akin’s book is released.

Berger seeks apology over false claim of ethics violation (Greensboro News & Record) -- The fallout from one comment during the Time Warner Cable News debate Friday continued long after the cameras stopped.

Republican Jews Alarmed at Prospect of Void in Congress (New York Times) -- Democrats say the Republican Party’s loss of Jewish representation is evidence of the party’s increasing homogeneity, while donors are finding other candidates eager to fill the gap.

2014 Voter Turnout: GOP Has Advantage, But It's Not 2010 (Wall Street Journal) -- The 2014 primaries have sparked fights within the GOP, spurring turnout of the party faithful.

GOP keeps House edge in Democratic-leaning states (AP) — Democrats have long claimed that Republicans abused their legislative powers to elect a disproportionate number of U.S. House members. Now a Florida court is lending credence to their complaint.

Florida judge voided the state’s Congressional districts. Here’s what you need to know (Washington Post) -- How Republican operatives and a Democratic lawmaker teamed up to “subvert the will of the people” in Florida.

Accusations fly as 'brutal' GOP district attorney runoff nears vote (Charlotte Observer) -- His most notorious murder case became a staple for CNN's Nancy Grace, the maven of real-life crime drama. But it's District Attorney Jay Gaither's election campaigns that could be fodder for tabloid TV. He won the seat in 2002 by beating an incumbent who pleaded guilty to drunken driving and would later be arrested for breaking into the home of his children's nanny. His last opponent was sued for alienation of affection and later indicted for extortion. He was eventually disbarred for, among other things, threatening to kill an assistant. Now, while seeking to tie his latest opponent to an illegal pyramid scheme, Gaither has found himself the subject of text-fueled sexual harassment allegations by a former assistant prosecutor. "This election has been brutal," says Gaither, 51. "But I've gone through brutal elections before."

Some states trying to stop young people from voting (McClatchy Newspapers) --Earlier this year, North Carolina lawmakers passed a bill aimed at stifling the newfound political muscle of their youngest voters.

SHORT SESSION, DAY 60; Overtime 12, $600,000
Wake prosecutors defer legislative sit-in charges (WRAL-TV) -- Fourteen people arrested in May during an overnight sit-in at House Speaker Thom Tillis' office agreed to deals Friday that will dismiss the charges against them in exchange for community service.

14 Moral Monday demonstrators plead guilty to trespassing (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Fourteen Moral Monday demonstrators charged in May with the misdemeanor of second-degree trespassing at the North Carolina Legislative Building pleaded guilty and face 25 hours of community service.

Biden calls on governors to lead nation (AP) -- Vice President Joe Biden on Friday condemned the political gridlock crippling Washington, calling on Republican and Democratic governors alike to lead the nation “out of this mess” while insisting that Congress approve billions of dollars to repair the country’s aging infrastructure. “The way things have gotten today, and I’m not singling out any party or any group of people – the politics, the culture in Washington, it’s become too personal, it’s too corrosive,” Biden said during a meeting of the National Governors Association. “I think you’ve got to lead us out of this mess we’re in.”

Biden Wants Smiles from McCrory (National Review) -- Joe Biden isn’t used to audiences not being charmed by his antics, so when he noticed a few uninterested members at the National Governors Association summer meeting in Nashville, he literally (as the vice president would say) took matters into his own hands. “You haven’t smiled the whole damn time, man — I’m a little worried,” he said to North Carolina’s Pat McCrory, stopping midway through his speech. He walked over to McCrory and gave him a hug, causing the governor to finally give the grin that Biden was looking for. “He and Gov. Brewer [of Arizona] are the only two who haven’t smiled at me,” Biden continued, waiting until Brewer gave him a smile too before moving on. “I’m getting worried, man,” Biden said, turning back to McCrory. “You’re sitting there just looking at me like, ‘What the hell is this guy doing?’”

Fox pops McCrory the question: What are you running for? (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Is the governor running for president? Of the U.S.? That question Fox Business News popped to Gov. Pat McCrory during a TV appearance on the network earlier this week. The governor was on TV to talk about the state’s plunged unemployment rate and reduced federal debt following North Carolina’s decision not to extend long-term jobless benefits. Varney asked McCrory if he thought cutting those benefits was the way of the future nationally, observing that there seems to be a philosophical conflict among some states over the value of benefits.

Common Core Becomes Touchy Subject for Governors (Wall Street Journal) -- A governors group that helped create the Common Core education standards didn't plan an official discussion on the controversial subject at its summer meeting, a sign of how the bipartisan idea has become a political minefield.

With friends like these, NCGOP doesn't need enemies (WCNC-TV) -- At the close of another tough week of budget negotiations, political analyst Dr. Michael Bitzer says it’s remarkable for unified government to be this divided. “We have Republican unified government, the House, the Senate the Governor, they’re all of the same party,” Bitzer said. The budget stalemate comes down to how to fund Medicaid, the healthcare safety net for those who can’t help themselves, and how big a pay raise teachers should receive. Right now the Senate believes Medicaid will cost the State hundreds of millions more than the House, or the Governor, believes. The Senate would like to give teachers an 11% percent raise and teachers can keep their tenure, however they would like to remove thousands of teacher assistants to pay for it. The governor has promised to veto any budget that includes that. Pat McCrory, along with House leadership like Speaker of the House Thom Tillis, wants to give teachers a 6 percent raise and keep teacher assistants. With Republicans in control of each branch of government, few expected that budget talks would have gone past the July 1 fiscal new year.

NC House critiques Senate budget offer (AP) — House Republicans aren't budging in their opposition to a final North Carolina government spending plan that raises teacher pay significantly if it also means cutting funds to employ thousands of current public school educators, Speaker Thom Tillis said Friday.

Tillis, House leaders outline budget differences with Senate (WRAL-TV) -- After cancelling a planned Friday budget conference, House leaders spoke to reporters about differences between their plan and proposals by the Senate. Like Gov. Pat McCrory, they say the Senate cuts too much from other areas of government to pay for teacher raises.

VOTING WITH THEIR FEET: Teachers moving to S.C. have worries superintendent (WCNC-TV) -- Fresh back from his testimony in the state capital, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Heath Morrison is concerned about the number of his teachers leaving for South Carolina, and the promise of thousands of dollars more a year in pay. Right now North Carolina is at the bottom of teacher pay in the U.S. “We don’t have numbers right now. We are very concerned obviously. We have our teachers who want to be here, love teaching in NC, love teaching Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The salaries right now are more competitive in South Carolina and so they’re making a professional decision not biased on where they want to teach, but where the dollars are directing them. That’s why I’m in Raleigh all the time trying to make sure that the budget, whenever it is passed has a good pay increase for our teachers,” Morrison said.

State Budget Negotiators Still At Odds Over Teacher Pay (WUNC-FM) -- Budget negotiators in the North Carolina General Assembly are still at odds over how much to raise teacher pay for this fiscal year. Leaders in the House canceled what was meant to be an open conference committee meeting this morning because Senate negotiators declined to attend. House leaders have offered to grant teachers raises of 6%, up from an earlier proposal of 5%. But Senate leaders say they still prefer pay increases of 11%.

$2.5M Budget Line Item No One’s Talking About (ExitEvent) -- If it seems like the North Carolina budget talks will never end, then it especially feels that way for the 70 or so N.C. companies that apply for and earn federal Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer grant seach year. If the budget passes in its current form, they could qualify for matching grants of up to $100,000 from the One North Carolina Small Business Program, a grant program that was suspended for the last three years. That could mean more equipment, additional staff, help seeking or defending patents or other critical research and business-building needs. The current (not-yet-passed) budget reallocates $2.5 million for the program—funds left over from the broader One North Carolina program. Both the House and Senate Budget committees have included the reallocation in their budgets and Gov. Pat McCrory has recommended it. From 2006 to 2011, 245 matching grants were awarded to private companies innovating in science and technology-related fields, says John Hardin, executive director of the N.C. Department of Commerce's Office of Science & Technology (OST). Those businesses created more than 500 jobs and generated a nine-to-one return for the state—grantees raised $85 million from private investors and collected another $73 million in follow-on funding from the U.S. government. The average grant is $70,000, and about 50 companies qualify for one each year.

Tax bill shelved after hotel opposition forms (Wilson Times) --
Opposition from a majority of Wilson area hotel owners led state lawmakers to hold off on a House bill that proposes increasing the county occupancy tax from 3 to 6 percent. Hotel owners have been concerned about the possible tax hike,

Outlook dubious for historic preservation tax credits (Wilmington Star-News) -- The tax credits were included in the House's budget but not the Senate's version.

Guilford DSS staff told to hide backlog (Greensboro News & Record) -- An internal report on the food stamp fiasco in March says at least some workers were aware of the problem.

Black voter suppression in N.C.: statewide numbers vs. local reality (Facing South) -- Defenders of a controversial new North Carolina election law that's being challenged by civil rights groups cite statewide vote totals to argue against any racially discriminatory suppressive effect -- but local data tell a more complicated story.

Belhaven mayor plans walk to DC to save hospital (AP) — The mayor of Belhaven is planning to walk to Washington, D.C., in hopes of saving a local hospital.

US records $71 billion budget surplus in June (AP) -- The U.S. government ran a monthly budget surplus in June, putting it on course to record the lowest annual deficit since 2008.

Dog fighting ringleader pleads guilty; Multi-state enterprise shut down (FBI News Release) – Donnie Anderson, a key player in a high-stakes dog fighting and gambling enterprise based in Alabama with activities spanning several nearby states recently pled guilty in the case; nine others have also admitted guilt. The takedown resulted in the rescue of 367 dogs. In his plea agreement, Anderson admitted to organizing and holding dog fights—mostly in the Auburn, Alabama area—from 2009 to 2013, as well as charging spectators an entrance fee of between $100 to $150 (although owners of dogs fighting at that particular event got in for free). He also said that dog owners and spectators were betting on the outcome of the fights, putting up a total of anywhere between $20,000 and $200,000 per fight. And, Anderson admitted to not only hosting the fights but—along with his co-conspirators—buying, selling, transporting, housing, and training the dogs used in the fights. … Along with the round-up of Anderson and his co-conspirators, 367 dogs were rescued with the assistance of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. Most of the recovered dogs were in pretty bad shape, with plenty of evidence showing they had been subjected to fighting activities. But after medical treatment and rehabilitation, many of the dogs have been or are in the process of being placed into loving homes.

4th Circuit affirms racial harassment verdict, fees award (Lawyer’s Weekly) -- The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a nearly $200,000 jury verdict in a racial harassment lawsuit against Concord-based trucking company A.C. Widenhouse.

Officials aware of NC Quick Pass payment scheme (AP) — NC Quick Pass and the Turnpike Authority is warning motorists in several states of an email scheme in which people are asked to pay an outstanding toll balance.

DOT work crews to pick up pace of Arthur repairs (AP) — Motorists using the southern portion of N.C. Highway 12 next week will encounter N.C. Department of Transportation crews doing work in the wake of Hurricane Arthur.

Concord provides most recent bus system example in state (Burlington TIMES-NEWS) -- With Burlington's recent vote in favor of a public transit system, it will be North Carolina's newest bus network in more than a decade.

Fayetteville City Leaders Consider Youth Curfew (TWCN-TV) -- The city of Fayetteville is considering a youth curfew as way to combat crime in the All American City and keep young folks off the streets at all hours of the night.

Innocence Project, Judge Express Outrage Over Botched Prosecution of Durham, NC Man (WUNC-FM) -- Family, friends and lawyers filled a Durham County courtroom today in support of Darryl Howard. Howard was convicted of murdering a woman and her daughter and then setting their public housing apartment on fire. But new DNA evidence shows Howard is likely innocent of the murders and rapes of the women. The Innocence Project thinks so and they joined Howard in court today. Darryl Howard has been in prison for 20 years. But the Durham native could soon be going home – released on bond – pending a new trial.

Innocence Project co-founder calls for audit of Mike Nifong's prosecutions (WRAL-TV) - The Durham County District Attorney's Office filed notice Wednesday that it is appealing the ruling of a judge who vacated a conviction of a man found guilty in 1995 of killing a mother and her 13-year-old daughter.

McCrory appoints new poet laureate for NC (AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory announced Friday that he has appointed Valeria Macon to the two-year position. She succeeds Joseph Bathanti. Macon has lived in the state 35 years and has published several books of poetry, including "Shelf Life." It was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, as was her second book, "Sleeping Rough." Macon, who now lives in Fuquay-Varina, was the Gilbert Chapel Distinguished Poet for the Eastern Region in 2010-11.

McCrory to be on Monday Charlotte radio talk-show (Charlotte Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory is scheduled as an hour-long guest on Mike Collins' "Charlotte Talks" at 9 a.m. Monday on WFAE-FM (NPR, 90.7).

Decker to speak in Lake Norman (Charlotte Observer) -- N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker will visit Lake Norman 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Monday July 14 at the Pearl Event Center, 19501 W. Catawba Ave., Cornelius. To discuss the economic health of North Carolina and the Charlotte region at a luncheon sponsored by North American Merchant Services and Business Today/Cornelius Today. She also will provide an update on the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina which is enabling legislation to privatize the sales and marketing functions of commerce.

McCrory Appoints Members to School Textbook Commission (Voter Update Magazine) -- Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday announced the appointment of 22 members to the state Textbook Commission, which evaluates all textbooks offered for adoption by North Carolina schools.

10 North Carolina World War II vets receive French Legion of Honor (Charlotte Observer) -- There were no snapping salutes, no bussing of cheeks Friday as France pinned its Legion of Honor to the chests of 10 old warriors.

Adults With Serious Mental Illnesses Face 80 Percent Unemployment (N.C. Health News) -- A report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness details the difficulties people with mental illnesses have finding and keeping work

Company poised to bring 1,000 jobs to area (Wilmington Star-News) -- A company is eyeing Brunswick County for a new project that could bring 1,000 jobs to the area.

Brunswick County gets transportation money to help lure company (Wilmington Business Journal) -- Interest in economic development projects in Brunswick County is on the upswing, according to officials talking with potential new, large employers. “We have 13 projects we’re going after and [pursuing] grants all over the place going after these projects. We’ve had more projects than we’ve ever had,” Jim Bradshaw, executive director of the Brunswick County Economic Development Commission, said Friday. Bradshaw received a boost this week to help him compete for one of those 13 projects when state transportation officials approved money for rail improvements to help attract a manufacturer to Brunswick County.

With Tobacco Merger, Giants Take On Technology (New York Times) -- Reynolds American and Lorillard see joining forces as a way to cope with the disruptive effect of e-cigarettes, writes the Deal Professor, Steven Davidoff Solomon.

John Seigenthaler, Tennessee journalist, dies (AP) -- John Seigenthaler, the journalist who edited The Tennessean newspaper, helped shape USA Today and worked for civil rights during the John F. Kennedy administration, died Friday at his Nashville home at age 86, his son said.

Fracking in North Carolina's national forests? (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Will fracking come to North Carolina's national forests? Well, not right now. But that's a possibility. During a public Forest Service meeting Thursday to discuss wildlife and habitat and wild and scenic rivers, some folks wanted to talk about fracking – a method of extracting oil and gas by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals into rock. The Pisgah and Nantahala National Forest Management Plan Revision meeting yesterday, Thursday, July 10, was set to discuss wildlife habitat and areas of the forest could be restored for early successional habitat, to discuss river segments suitable for designation as Wild and Scenic Rivers, and to discuss ecosystem integrity. More than 100 people attended, said spokesman Stevin Westcott.

The fight over solar power's future in N.C. (Facing South) -- Clean-energy advocates are battling Duke Energy's plan to cut payments to homeowners with grid-tied solar panels for the excess power they sell back to the company. Meanwhile, a major investment bank says the falling price of solar panels and battery storage could encourage large numbers of U.S. homeowners and businesses to abandon utilities altogether and go off-grid.

Climate Science Denier Group Must Pay Damages For Frivolous Lawsuit Against UVa, Scientist (Facing South) -- The Virginia Supreme Court has ordered the American Tradition Institute to pay $250 to the University of Virginia and former professor Michael Mann (in photo at right) for filing a lawsuit that sought his emails and other documents on the grounds that his climate research constituted academic fraud -- a charge repeatedly found to be without merit.

Jordan Lake’s Managers Authorize Lake-Stirring Trial To Prevent Algae Growth (WUNC-FM) -- State environment officials expect to install 36-solar powered water mixers into Jordan Lake by the end of the month, as part of a two-year trial to find out whether the mixers can prevent algae from growing in the lake, they said.

Three-legged loggerhead nests with volunteers' help (Wilmington Star-News) -- A three-legged loggerhead turtle has trekked onto Masonboro Island three times this summer.

In Zoos, Elephants Get Harder to Find (Wall Street Journal) – Greenville, S.C. is the latest American zoo to bid goodbye to the elephant, long considered the heart of many zoos. Zoos are finding it tough to add to their herds. The U.S. elephant population is aging—more than two-thirds of the African elephants in zoos are over 30. Domestic breeding programs have failed to produce many babies, and ivory poachers have reduced the number of wild elephants available to zoos.

Wos drawing fire at DHHS once again (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Once again, there is a call for Aldona Wos to resign as secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services. And once again, neither Wos nor Gov. Pat McCrory seem to be listening. Wos’ record is a study in missteps. … There’s no reason to believe HHS will improve as long as Wos is in charge.

Zero evidence that benefit cuts led to NC jobless drop (Raleigh News & Observer) -- North Carolina did have more rapid job growth than the rest of the nation in the period since it cut benefits, but it also has had more rapid job growth than the rest of the nation for the last four decades, before many of the benefit-cutters were even born.

Medicaid drama plays out at Legislative Building (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- With apologies to the performances at various Triangle venues, the most compelling theater in recent weeks (in a car-wreck-about-to-happen sort of way) has been the melodrama at the Legislative Building on Jones Street. … We should have assigned our theater correspondent Roy C. Dicks to review the show.

Lawmakers should keep subsidies for after-school care (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A North Carolina legislative proposal to change subsidies could complicate or end after-school care for 12,000 children.

Have teachers earned a raise or not? (Fayetteville Observer column) -- Take away the job security of your best people because it's turning them into your worst people. What: You mean that's not a basic business principle, after all? It's not true that every company from Duke Energy to Boeing rewards its high performers with chronic anxiety because they do better work if they're job-scared as well as underpaid?

North Carolina legislature is quite the reality show (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Watching the state legislature is more fun than watching reality shows on television. The dysfunction among lawmakers, especially those of the same political party, makes for must-see viewing.

Numbers Say Kay Hagan Is Toast (North Carolina Politics column) -- What’s Kay Hagan’s path to victory? How does Kay Hagan get over 50%? I don’t think she can. Her path to victory probably runs through Sean Haugh. If she does win this November, it will only be with plurality support. Something like 49% Hagan, 46% Tillis, 5% Haugh. Either way, 49% is her ceiling. I’ll explain why shortly. We’ve all heard the theories about how Hagan can win this thing. Depict Tillis as the face of the North Carolina legislature. Run a culture war campaign and ramp up turnout among women and minorities. Attack Tillis mercilessly and paint him as a right-wing extremist who is out of touch with the middle class and non-traditional people. That’s all well and good, and the polls show Hagan up by about 3 points now, so a Hagan victory certainly seems possible, even more likely than not at this point. And yet, if you look at the numbers, Hagan really shouldn’t have any business getting reelected (this is a reflection of political dynamics and not on her tenure in Washington).

DENR RESPONDS: NC's move on carbon explained (Asheville Citizen-Times column) -- On July 5, G. Richard Mode asked in a guest commentary, “Why would McCrory sign on to anti-carbon rules letter? … Gov. Pat McCrory and DENR will continue to do what we can to ensure the rules are fair to our state and accurately reflect benefits and costs. But I would also urge all North Carolinians who care about clean air, fairness and economic growth to voice their own concerns over the rules during the public comment period, which is open until Oct. 16.

Bill Saffo - Film industry should be brought into incentives debate (Wilmington Star-News column) -- Gov. Pat McCrory has it right. We need a film program that encourages private investment, increases infrastructure development, and mimics the successful program that Georgia has established. We have that program now and it is working and employs 4,200 full time and 15,000 part-time workers, many of whom are our neighbors here in Wilmington. For many years the industry in our region has grown in exactly the manner the governor suggests, and now Charlotte is poised for exactly the same type growth.

Ditch McCrory’s 'stupid hats' for thinking caps (Asheville Citizen-Times column) -- We can pull our “stupid hats” down over our eyes but North Carolina’s transportation problems won’t go away; they will only get even worse and the delays will cost more. The hats we are currently wearing make us look really dumb. It’s time to put on our thinking caps.

Two Republican-led chambers can't see eye to eye (Wilmington Star-News) -- After spending their first two years in control doing everything in their power to demoralize North Carolina teachers and demean the teaching profession, Republican legislative leaders have attempted to temper their “reforms” by acknowledging that the majority of our state’s public school teachers are dedicated, hard-working people who truly care about our children. An agreement to separate teacher pay raises from a requirement to give up tenure was a promising start. But that compromise may not survive contentious budget negotiations.

Do election officials care what you think? (Wilson Times) -- Ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote that democracy is "a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder.”

New habitat designation helps protect loggerheads (Wilmington Star-News) -- Around these parts, we love sea turtles – especially the loggerheads that arrive on our beaches annually to lay their eggs

An NC parent becomes convinced of the Common Core good (Raleigh News & Observer) -- After Common Core complaints took over Facebook feeds, a Holly Springs mother decided to find out what the fuss was about. She listened to speakers at public hearings and scoured websites, read both the English language arts and mathematics standards