• Conservatives break for Santorum in Ohio

    By Ray Watters | Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 22:57

    Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum attracted the more conservative voters in the Ohio primary, according to early exit polls. As of 11 p.m., the race in Ohio was too close to call.

    The results in Ohio are important for the GOP race because no Republican presidential candidate has won the presidency without winning Ohio.

    Mitt Romney fared better among the more moderate GOP voters and those less motivated by religion, according to exit polls. This means that Santorum held a double-digit lead over Romney with voters who are driven by social issues instead of economic issues.


  • Gingrich wins Georgia, predicts comeback

    By Ray Watters | Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 22:34

    Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich won the Georgia primary, promising he would make yet another comeback in the GOP presidential race because of "the power of ideas."

    His victory speech focused on the fact that he will continue to focus on the upcoming Southern primaries in the next seven to 10 days.

    "Tomorrow will bring another chapter in the race for the nomination, but it's more than a chapter in the race for the nomination," Gingrich told his cheering supporters late Tuesday in Atlanta. "It's a chapter in a fight for the soul of the Republican Party. It's a chapter in the fight for the very nature of America. It's a chapter defining who we are as a people."

  • Talk of Iran war colors presidential race

    By Ray Watters | Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 16:23

    World powers agreed to a new round of talks with Tehran about its nuclear program, while Iran agreed to let inspectors visit its atomic facility. It marked a tenative step toward defusing tensions surrounding a nuclear program the West suspects might be used to make nuclear weapons.

    The same day - Super Tuesday - President Barack Obama decided to speak out against the Republican presidential candidates who he says display a casualness toward starting another war in the Middle East with their comments on Iran.


    Obama told reporters the GOP candidates don't have the same responsibilities he has. "They are not commander in chief," he said.

    Some of the Republican candidates have accused Obama of abandoning Israel and being weak on Iran.

    GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Tuesday said Obama's plan to proceed with diplomacy is "another appeasement, another delay,"

    Mitt Romney said thugs and tyrants will only respect U.S. resolve backed by military might.

    Newt Gingrich has promised to  "undermine and replace" the current Iranian regime should he be elected president.

    Candidate Ron Paul has been an outspoken opponent of overseas wars and foreign entanglements. He has called for closing many U.S. military bases around the world.


  • Today voters speak out in 10 states

    By Ray Watters | Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 15:57

    Today is Super Tuesday. Voters in 10 states will go to the polls to vote in the Republican presidential primary. Here are what some voters are saying, in their own words.






  • House GOP leader Eric Cantor endorses Romney

    By Andy Cromer | Sunday, March 4, 2012 - 18:34
    Mitt Romney has picked up another high profile endorsement days before Super Tuesday.

    House GOP leader Eric Cantor has decided to support Romney, saying that he is the candidate most equipped to create jobs. Cantor also added that he felt Romney had the best chance to defeat President Barack Obama in the November presidential election.

    Romney will take the positive momentum into a very important week in the GOP race. Super Tuesday includes voting in 10 states. Cantor's state of Virginia is one of the 10 states involved.

    When asked if he would consider running alongside Romney, Cantor dismissed this, saying he had no interest as being Romney's running mate.

  • Will Super Tuesday mark start of long slog?

    By Ray Watters | Saturday, March 3, 2012 - 00:15

    More and more political observers and insiders are saying the 10 elections slated for Super Tuesday will not deliver the knockout punch needed to end the Republican primary.

    A narrow win by Mitt Romney in his native state of Michigan shows a weak spot in his campaigning. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul have virtually ignored the last few primaries to focus more on the states that vote March 6.

    There are 437 delegates up for grabs in those 10 races, the biggest number yet in this primary. But that sitll isn't enough to reach the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination. The long slog this primary season is due, in part, to changes in how delegates are assigned. In past years, leading in a few early contests could be enough to take the nomination because of winner-take-all rules when it comes to delegates.

    This time around, many more states have been awarding delegates on a proportional basis. That changes Tuesday, when some of the states will give all their delegates to the winner. Virginia is one of those states. And thanks to some paperwork problems, only Romney and Paul are on the ballot.

    "If (Romney's} able to win all the delegates there, that pretty much neutralizes all of his other losses across the South," Josh Putnam, a political scientist at North Carolina's Davidson College, told The Boston Globe.

  • Michigan takes delegate away from Santorum

    By Ray Watters | Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 16:19

    The Republican establishment in Michigan voted Wednesday night to change how it awards delegates a day after the old rules split the state's 30 representatives between two candidates.

    Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum each received 15 delegates under the old rules. The Michigan Republican Party Credentials Committee voted 4-2 Wednesday night to instead award 16 delegates to Romney and 14 to Santorum, according to The Associated Press.

    At first glance, it appears the committee's vote violates the state party rules, which would have resulted in an even split. Check back here for more details.

  • Romney, Santorum split Michigan delegates

    By Ray Watters | Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 23:25

    Mitt Romeny and Rick Santorum both declared victory in the Michigan primary. Romney won the popular vote, but Santorum won just as many delegates as his rival. 

    "We had a much better night in Michigan than maybe was first reported," Santorum said Thursday in Tennessee. 

    Romney jabbed back. "Interestingly, the people who said that the economy and jobs were their No. 1 issue, they voted for me, overwhelmingly," in the Michigan primary, he said.

    The delegate count so far is Newt Gingrich, 32; Ron Paul, 19; Mitt Romney, 167; and Rick Santorum, 87. There are more than 419 delegates up for grabs on the ballot Tuesday. The candidates need 1,144 to win the nomaintion at the Republican Party convention this summer in Tampa, Fla.


  • Kid Rock plays for Mitt Romney event

    By Ray Watters | Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 23:21

    Mitt Romney's campaign often plays Kid Rock's song "Born Free" at the beginning and end of events. So it was natural for Romney to ask the musician to perform in Michigan.

    The rocker-rapper insisted on talking with Romney first and apparently grilled the Republican presidential candidate last Thursday about his policy positions. The next day, according to media reports, Romney's camp received an email saying Rock was in.

    Kid Rock performed "Born Free" at the Royal Oak Music Theatre on Monday night while Romney and many others watched. Then the singer left.

    Romney told Detroit radio station WXYT that Kid Rock "makes some pretty good music."

  • President Barack Obama embraces auto bailout

    By Ray Watters | Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 23:03

    In front of a loud United Auto Workers audience, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that comments by Republican presidential candidates that unions made money off the taxpayer-funded rescue of the auto industry are a "load of you know what."

    The president did not name any GOP candidate in his speech. The bailout began with President George W. Bush who directed about $17 billion in loans to GM and Chrysler in the final weeks of his second term.

    Early exit polls of voters in Michigan's Republican presidential primary show that 4 out of 10 voters supported the auto bailout. That also was the same ratio of non-Republican voters in the primary.

  • Michigan turns into two-man race

    By Ray Watters | Saturday, February 25, 2012 - 22:30

    The race for the Michigan primary seems to have narrows to a fight between Republicans Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

    Both men have tried to raise doubts about the other's conservative credentials. Both men spoke to  Americans for Prosperity on Saturday as part of many stops across the state to get their message out to voters.

    "This is not time for lifelong pols who explain why they voted for this or that based on what they were asked to do by their fellow colleagues," Romney told activists Saturday. "I will be a president of principle."

    Santorum was quick to respond.

    "It is absolutely laughable to have a liberal governor of Massachusetts suggest that I am not a conservative," Santorum said to cheers. "He repeatedly gets up and says all these things that he didn't do that he did do. Folks, this is an issue of trust."

    The Michigan and Arizona primaries will be held Tuesday. Decisive wins will help the candidates going into Super Tuesday, when 10 states will vote for their favorite candidate on March 6.

  • The power of ridicule stings conservatives

    By Eugene Tinklepaugh | Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 22:51

    Heard any good jokes about invasive sonograms lately?

    Well, Republicans aren't laughing.

    The word "transvaginal" is now a punchline for political satirists on such shows as "Saturday Night Live" and "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" after Virginia's conservative Republicans overreached on abortion.

    Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and GOP state lawmakers Wednesday abandoned a bill requiring women to undergo an intrusive type of sonogram before an abortion — an abrupt reversal that demonstrated the power of political satire and illustrated again how combustible the issue of women's reproductive health has become over the past few weeks.

    "You never want to get on the wrong side of popular culture," said Steve Jarding, a professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Democratic consultant who has run campaigns in Virginia. He added: "When people are laughing at you, you know you've gone too far."

    At issue was a bill pushed by anti-abortion lawmakers that would have required women seeking an abortion to undergo a transvaginal sonogram, in which a wand is inserted in the vagina to yield an image of the fetus. The procedure differs from an abdominal sonogram, in which a wand is rubbed over the woman's belly.

  • Romney turns critical eye toward Santorum

    By Ray Watters | Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 22:42

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney increasingly seems to treat former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum as his main obstacle in the primary race.

    Romney took his message to the voters in Arizona and Michigan on Thursday, accusing Santorum of being a typical Washington insider politician. He focused on the former senator's vote for the No Child Left Behind law proposed by former President George W. Bush. Many conservatives have said the law gave the federal government too much control over state and local education.

    "It was against the principles I believed in," Santorum said in the Wednesday night debate. "But, you know, when you're part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team."

    Romney pounced on the statement at an Associated Builders and Contractors meeting in Phoenix the next day.

    "I wonder which team he was taking it for," Romney said. "My team is the American people, not the insiders in Washington."

    Meanwhile, supporters of President Barack Obama were free to air anti-Romny ads in Michigan while the president campaigned Thursday in Florida. 

  • GOP to focus on gasoline prices

    By Ray Watters | Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 21:50

    Republicans are expected to use increasing gas prices to hammer President Barack Obama leading up to the presidential election.

    "Gasoline prices are unacceptable. We can do better!" reads a tweet Republican hopeful Newt Gingrich sent within the past week. He also directed supporters to sign an online petition demanding a return to $2.50-a-gallon fuel. 

    Rick Santorum has made a point of linking the president to a radical environmenal agenda and bashing Democrats for pushing alternatives to oil. "They want higher energy prices," he said. "They want to push their radical agenda on the public. We need a president who is on the side of affordable energy."

    The Republican National Committe is helping coordinate that message with candidates and conservative pundits, asking them to focus on unemployment, the national debt and the cost of gasoline as the three main features of what its "Top Line Messaging" calls the "Obama economy."

    Observers expect the White House to respond by pointing to efforts to raise the fuel efficiency of American gas and a recent U.S. Interior Deparment announcement of an expansion of oil exploration in Artic waters.

    The Keystone oil pipeline delay also is expected to play a prominent role in the national conversation between now and Election Day.

  • Super PACs rake in more cash than candidates

    By Ray Watters | Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 23:39

    The super PACs supporting Mitt Romeny and Newt Gingrich in the Republican presidential primary have raised more money and have more cash in the bank then the candidates' own campaigns.

    Restore Our Future, the super PAC that supports Romney, and Winning Our Future, the super PAC that supports Gingrich, raised a combined $17 million in January and spent nearly $24 million. Much of the spending goes toward television and radio announcements to sway large numbers of voters at a time.

    Compare that to these numbers: Romney gathered $6.5 million in donations during January and had $7.7 million left in the bank. Gingrich's campaign raised $5.5 million in Janauary and had about $1.8 million in cash remaining.  

  • President Barack Obama fundraising short of 2008 numbers

    By Ray Watters | Saturday, February 18, 2012 - 20:55

    Media outlets reported this week that President Barack Obama pulled in $29.1 million for his re-election campaign and the national arm of the Democratic Party in January. That puts Obama's fundraising total for this presidential race around $250 million.

    The Wall Street Journal pointed out that his haul was less than it was at this point four years ago when Obama was running for the Democratic nomination. In January 2008, Obama raised $36.2 million and the DNC raised $5.8 million for itself that same month.

    How that compares to the Republicans seeking the GOP nomination will be known Tuesday, when candidates will release their own fundraising reports.

  • Romney ahead of Santorum in Arizona polls

    By Ray Watters | Friday, February 17, 2012 - 21:55

    Rasmussen Reports released a telephone survey today that shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 39 percent support among likely Republican primary voters in Arizona.

    Santorum has closed a once wider gap since he now has the support of 31 percent of likely voters. 

    Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich trails far behind them both with 15 percent of likely voters and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has about 7 percent support. That's close to the 5 percent who remain undecided in the primary election, which will be held Feb. 28.

    The poll of 750 likely voters was held Thursday and has a smapling error of 4 percent.

  • Political satire on the Threat Down? 'Colbert Report' off air

    By Eugene Tinklepaugh | Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 21:00

    Comedy Central's "Colbert Report" is off the air and it's a mystery why. An expected new episode of the show was replaced by a repeat on Wednesday. More repeats are expected to be aired.Comedy Central said it was airing the repeats "due to unforeseen circumstances" but offered no other explanation. Colbert's popular "fake commentary" program airs Monday through Thursday at 11:30 p.m., following "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart. Multiple outlets are reporting that a family illness is the cause of the suspension of "The Colbert Report" and that the host's mother is seriously ill. Fans and supporters have been tweeting messages of love and support for Colbert and his family throughout the day. Colbert was born the youngest of 11 children to mother Lorna, 91, and father, James, who died in a plane accident in 1974 along with two of Colbert's brothers. Are you missing your daily dose of political satire with Colbert off the air? Tell us your take on Colbert.

  • Rick Santorum shows gains in new poll

    By Ray Watters | Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 16:51

    Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, basically tied Mitt Romney in nationwide polling about the GOP primaries. The jump comes after Santorum won votes in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri last week.

    The sweep pushed Santorum to 30 percent support in a poll this week by the Pew Research Center. The same poll showed 28 percent support for Romney. But it's not all good news for Santorum: The same poll showed that 31 percent of those asked did not know enough about Santorum to rate him.

    Santorum's campaign worker said they plans to use the $4 million in donations made this week to help spread the word.

  • In case you missed it ...

    By Gene Metrick | Friday, November 11, 2011 - 18:42

    Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry of Texas appeared Thursday on Late Night with David Letterman to read the Top Ten List:

  • Ellmers logging time on cable news shows

    By Gene Metrick | Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 19:29

    U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, D-2nd District, has received a fair share of the national media spotlight, appearing on several cable news shows on Fox News and the Fox Business Channel in recent weeks.

    The freshman lawmaker appeared Thursday on "Fox & Friends," where she discussed the ongoing stalemate over raising the federal debt ceiling. She was a guest on Fox Business Channel's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" on Friday, where she talked about the GOP's "Cut, Cap and Balance Plan."

    Also on Friday, Ellmers participated in a congressional women's focus group moderated by legendary GOP pollster Frank Luntz on the Fox News show "Hannity."

  • Collins blogging on legislative issues

    By Gene Metrick | Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 19:06

    N.C. Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash, recently launched a blog in which he posts news and his views on legislation, issues and policy proposals circulating in the N.C. General Assembly.

    Check it out by clicking here.

  • Vacation Island donors give $2 million, push for jetties

    By Bob Hall | Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 19:57

    (Editor's Note: Bob Hall is executive director of Democracy North Carolina)

    As the legislature debates a controversial bill to allow construction of “terminal groins” along North Carolina’s beaches, a new study reveals that the bill’s chief sponsor and other state lawmakers have received $2 million in campaign donations from a group of groin advocates who own vacation homes on Figure 8 Island near Wilmington.

    The group includes many of the richest, most powerful political donors in North Carolina. They have hired prominent Republican and Democratic lobbyists and created a political action committee (PAC) called the Island Preservation Society, which has donated more than $100,000 to lawmakers, according to the analysis by the nonpartisan group Democracy North Carolina.

    Lobbyists for the Figure 8 Beach Homeowners Association include former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker and Joseph H. Lanier, former Sen. Jesse Helms’ legislative director. Donors to the Island Preservation Society PAC include restaurant owners Nick Boddie and Louis Sewell, investors William Armfield IV and Thomas Kenan III, publisher Frank Daniels Jr., developers Julian Rawl and Stephen Cornwell, contractors Earl Johnson Jr., John Bratton Jr. and Frank Dowd IV, auto dealers Fred Anderson and Linda Leith, beer wholesalers Lewis Nunnelee and Rodney Long, entrepreneurs Nat Harris and Charles Winston, and about 100 other civic and business leaders.

    In addition to the PAC, the group of donors and their immediate families have given more than $1.8 million to state politicians since they began their pro-jetties campaign in late 2003 with a fundraising drive for then state Senate leader Marc Basnight. The Senate under Basnight repeatedly adopted bills to undo the state’s longstanding ban against groins, but the House and Speaker Joe Hackney blocked their passage. Basnight led all recipients with $14,000 from the Preservation Society PAC and $305,989 directly from its backers from Nov. 2003 to Dec. 2010. (See details on pages 2 and 3 of http://www.democracy-nc.org/PDFs/Fig8DnrsPR2011.pdf)

    Not all the homeowners on Figure 8 Island support the groins, and nearly all coastal geologists say they will hasten erosion for down-beach property. Nevertheless, the island’s groin advocates have stepped up their donations in the past two years, especially to Republicans.

    State Sen. Harry Brown (R-Jacksonville), the main sponsor of Senate Bill 110 to allow terminal groins near inlets, received $22,500 in the 2010 election cycle from donors related to Figure 8 Island and the Preservation Society PAC, according to Democracy North Carolina. He received only $2,000 in the previous five years combined.

    Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Eden) received $10,450 in 2010 from the donors, including $1,000 from the PAC, his first donations from these donors since the PAC began.

    “The large role of private money in public elections puts good lawmakers and donors under added scrutiny,” said Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina. “The amount of money major donors can give and raise will make politicians pay attention, but legislation should stand on its merits, not depend on campaign donations. Republican leaders who said they opposed pay-to-play politics must now be careful not to practice what they preached against.”

  • New Census numbers chart state's growth

    By Geoffrey Cooper | Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 19:32

    The U.S. Census Bureau released detailed numbers of the 2010 Census Wednesday, which outlines the North Carolina's population activity during the past decade.

    The final demographics and population numbers will be used by the N.C. General Assembly to craft new lines for federal and state legislative districts.

    According to the 2010 Census web site, the redistricting file consists of five detailed tables: the first shows the population by race, including six single race groups and 57 multiple race groups (63 total race categories); the second shows the Hispanic or Latino population as well as the non-Hispanic or Latino population cross-tabulated by the 63 race categories.

    These tabulations are repeated in the third and fourth tables for the population 18 years and over and are for the resident population of the United States. The fifth table provides counts of housing units and their occupancy status.

    Click here for a complete listing of the custom table results.