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Two recent media reports have cast a spotlight on the potential "pay to play" problem with government contractors who are also donors to political campaigns.
Over the next 12 months, expect to hear a great deal about the "Carolina Comeback." It will be the reelection theme for Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republican leaders.
Pat McCrory, Roy Cooper, Richard Burr, and many other confirmed or potential candidates for statewide office in North Carolina have plans. They have strategies. They have backers, and staffers, and plenty of ideas for how best to win their elections in November of 2016.
Frustrated by how long it takes for a good idea, or even just a passable one, to gain traction and momentum in today's Washington, D.C.
Did you hear that 15 percent of North Carolina's public schoolteachers left the profession last year, and that conditions are so bad that teachers are leaving our state in droves to teach somewhere else?
After months of speculation and handwringing among Democrats, the party is finally fielding candidates to take on Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in 2016. The potential aspirants include state Rep. Duane Hall of Raleigh, former state Rep. Deborah Ross of Raleigh, and Chris Rey, mayor of the...
The North Carolina Senate has approved a Taxpayer Protection Act by the required three-fifths vote. The measure approves amending the North Carolina Constitution to place caps on income-tax rates and spending growth while requiring lawmakers to set aside money in a rainy-day fund to guard against...
Was the 2014 Senate race between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican victor Thom Tillis really the most expensive race in North Carolina history, or in the country's entire election cycle last year?
At this moment, political leaders and strategists in both the North Carolina Democratic and Republican parties are concocting the same kind of fantasy -- that they'll be able to wall off their state and local candidates from a potential disaster at the top of the ticket.
As North Carolina's legislative session (presumably) winds down over the next couple of weeks, it seems increasingly unlikely that the cap on state spending growth and other provisions of the proposed Taxpayer Protection Act will pass this year. The Senate approved the measure a few weeks ago...
After a lengthy and often messy process of both public and private negotiations, leaders of the North Carolina House and Senate appear to be on the cusp of completing a state spending plan for the 2015-17 budget biennium.
Remember the old tale about a drunken man crawling around under a lamppost? Dating at least as far back as 1924, the joke starts off with a police officer approaching the drunk to ask what he's looking for. In earlier versions of the joke, it's a dollar bill. In later versions, it's a set of car...
Republicans' recent success in North Carolina politics can be traced in many ways to the example set by Jim Martin. That's one of the key themes of a new biography focusing on the state's only two-term GOP governor of the 20th century.
Anyone who writes or comments about politics will make predictions that fail to come true. I certainly have.
I have a theory about presidential politics and the 2016 election. It has the virtue of fitting much of the data currently available. Another of the theory's virtues is that it can readily generate a couple of plausible scenarios for how the primary season may play out among...
Think politics has taken a nasty turn? You're certainly not alone. Too many politicians and activists resort too often to personal insults and the character assassination of their adversaries rather than crafting, articulating, and defending a substantive agenda for addressing difficult issues...
As a longtime observer of the North Carolina legislature, I have a pet peeve: lawmakers, lobbyists, and reporters alike focus too much attention on the General Fund of the state budget, those expenditures funded largely by state taxes on incomes and retail sales.
"Prediction is very difficult," said physicist Niels Bohr, "especially if it's about the future."
While North Carolina's unemployment rate currently stands at just under 6 percent, some argue that problems in the state's labor market are worse than that one statistic would indicate.
Those who care about education reform learned a lot on February 5 when North Carolina released its first letter grades for public schools. The grades reflect three sets of information: average student performance on end-of-year tests, the amount of annual growth in those scores, and graduation...
When state legislators created a new commission last summer to review North Carolina's participation in Common Core standards for elementary and secondary schools, they made an excellent decision.
If the recent review of campus-based centers by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors was all an elaborate ruse to silence a critic of state Republicans, it would probably qualify as the most improbable, elaborate, and ineffective conspiracy in North Carolina history.
The obvious problem with the cause often identified as "states' rights" is that it has sometimes been used to defend odious practices such as slavery and segregation. There's an even more basic problem, however, and it lies in the wording of the phrase itself. Governments can have...
Governors make lots of decisions. They propose budgets. They hire Cabinet secretaries and other key state officials. They appoint members to governing boards and licensing agencies. They sign or veto bills. They offer or withhold clemency to criminals.
Recent events lead me to restate an argument I made several years ago in response to a belligerent correspondent: mind your own business.
I suppose if you thought Kay Hagan's reelection campaign was a brilliant exercise in political rhetoric, you might try to reuse her talking points to win the political debates of 2015 or the political races of 2016.
When I tell audiences that I have always been a committed Marxist, I usually get a combination of disbelieving snorts and knowing chuckles. The cleverest response goes something like this: "I can believe you've been a committed Marxist, but I can't believe they'd ever let you out!"
If North Carolina's tax burden has no effect on business decisions and the performance of the economy, as left-of-center politicians and editorialists have repeatedly insisted, then why are they so enamored with targeted tax breaks?
By all accounts, the $22.2 billion General Fund budget just passed by the North Carolina House is only one step in a dance routine that may well last throughout the summer. As a former dance teacher, I'll take this opportunity to explain what to look for as the Senate and Gov. Pat McCrory make...
A thought occurred to me as I was traveling in and around the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina. The notion didn't have to do with my location but was instead prompted by the lecture I was listening to on the way.
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