Few voters will make big decision

April 19, 2014 

49 voters to elect new senator

There are school board elections with longer campaigns and more voters.

Only 49 people will elect a state senator to replace Democrat Dan Clodfelter, who resigned this month to become Charlotte’s new mayor.

By law, his replacement will be chosen by Democratic Party leaders in Senate District 37 and a handful of other party officials who live in the district.

Voters include Clodfelter; Mecklenburg commissioners Dumont Clarke, Vilma Leake and Kim Ratliff; and City Council members David Howard and Patsy Kinsey.

Candidates for the seat include Darrell Bonapart, a former council candidate, Jeff Jackson, an assistant district attorney in Gaston County, and Billy Maddalon, owner of the Morehead Inn. Jim Morrill

A star turn

Singer Carole King will perform Monday night in Charlotte – at a private fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.

The event, which includes a performance by the Grammy-winning singer, will take place at a private home near Carmel Country Club. The cost runs from $1,000 to $5,000.

It will be King’s second event in three days for North Carolina Democrats.

Saturday night she was scheduled to give the keynote speech to the 11th Congressional District Spring Gala. Jim Morrill

Near the finish line

It’s billed as the “Finish Line Candidate Forum” and could be the last for candidates running in the 12th Congressional District primary.

Six Democrats and two Republicans are running for the seat vacated this year by longtime U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, a Charlotte Democrat.

The forum, less than two weeks before the May 6 primary, takes place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in Biddle Auditorium at Johnson C. Smith University.

Moderators include Observer Editor Rick Thames, Ron Stodghill, director of the school’s Innovo Laboratory, and two students. Seating is limited. RSVP to JCSUGreatDebate2014@gmail.com. Jim Morrill

Debate no-shows

When Charlotte-area candidates gather Tuesday to tape the WTVI/League of Women Voters debates, they won’t all be there.

Organizer Amanda Raymond says U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger and state Sen. Bob Rucho, both Republicans, declined invitations to participate. So did Democrat Vilma Leake, a Mecklenburg commissioner.

That means no chance for voters to see those candidates side by side with their opponents and, because of the League’s policy, no platform for their respective challengers: Republicans Mike Steinberg and Matt Arnold, and Democrat Dondhi Burrell.

Other candidates for Congress, state legislature, county board of commissioners and sheriff are all expected to appear. Jim Morrill

Hagan vs. Obama

Sen. Kay Hagan has asked Senate Appropriations Committee members to reject the Obama administration’s proposal to close the federal ocean research lab near Beaufort.

The proposal in the 2015 budget to close the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association lab is “extremely shortsighted,” the Democratic senator wrote April 11 to the chairwoman and ranking senator on the Appropriations Committee panel in charge of science spending, Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

The lab “provides the only federal access to the most diverse marine ecosystem in the United States,” and it “employs approximately 100 employees, including scientists who are recognized both nationally and internationally for the high-quality work they do to support research integral to sustaining fisheries and coastal ecosystems,” Hagan wrote.

NOAA has “provided very few details” to support its decision to close the lab, Hagan wrote.

A NOAA spokeswoman earlier said maintenance work would be too costly. But Hagan wrote that both the federal government and the state have spent significant amounts of money to improve the facilities.

Hagan also argued that NOAA hasn’t provided enough information about how it will “address the impact of this closure on the surrounding communities as it relates to jobs, the economy, fishery support and marine biology research.”

In the House of Representatives, the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over science has signaled support for keeping the lab open. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., wrote N.C. Republican Rep. Walter Jones, whose district includes Beaufort, and said he agreed that “disbanding this lab will be detrimental to maintaining the effective research programs and community interactions that staff at this lab have developed.” Renee Schoof

No Moogfest for the governor

Gov. Pat McCrory won’t attend the electronic music festival Moogfest next week in Asheville as originally planned.

McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis told the Asheville Citizen-Times that Moogfest organizers asked the governor to change his plans and not attend the festival Wednesday.

Moogfest spokeswoman Jill Lieberman initially said McCrory wouldn’t attend because of a scheduling conflict. After Ellis said organizers asked that the governor not attend, Moogfest officials said they regretted any miscommunication between themselves and the governor’s office and that they appreciate his support of the festival.

Local residents had organized a protest to coincide with the governor’s visit. Associated Press

He’s not quite dead

State Sen. Jim Davis confirmed to The Asheville Citizen-Times on Friday that he isn’t dead, even though his Wikipedia entry claimed he was.

The second-term Franklin Republican was the victim of a Wikipedia death hoax on Friday morning, when it reported that the 67-year-old legislator had collapsed and died – apparently of a heart attack – while jogging near his home.

That didn’t happen. Davis told the newspaper he first heard about his demise while visiting relatives in Virginia. He said he had no idea whether the rumor started with Wikipedia or somewhere else. The (Raleigh) News & Observer

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