Friday, July 29, 2011

Redistricting maps cause of concern for New Hanover County party chairs.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster 

By Michelle Saxton  /  Lumina News  Thurs., July 28, 2011

New congressional redistricting maps have been met with bipartisan concern as chairpersons for both New Hanover County’s Democratic and Republican parties have voiced opposition to a proposal that would split the county into two districts.

"(At) the end of the day we care about having somebody represent us here in New Hanover County who understands New Hanover County," county GOP Chairwoman Rhonda Amoroso said Wednesday, July 27. "If this map gets approved we will have to work very hard to make sure we get someone elected who represents our interests here."

Under the congressional redistricting map, downtown Wilmington, parts of New Hanover County and most of Pender County would join the 3rd District, which stretches north up the eastern coast to Currituck County and is served by Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. 

Most of New Hanover County would remain in the 7th District served by Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C. The 7th District would lose most of McIntyre’s home county of Robeson County to the 8th District and would gain the rest of Sampson County and stretch farther north into Johnston County. 

A congressional district should reflect, to the extent practicable, common interests and not mix coastal and agricultural areas willy-nilly, Amoroso has said. 

New Hanover County Democratic Chairman Alex Hall was concerned about both the congressional map and the proposed state House redistricting map, saying it appeared Republican leaders in the General Assembly were trying to dilute heavily Democratic districts.

"What they’ve done essentially is try to rig the election before the election takes place," Hall said Tuesday, July 26. "It’s offensive to the average citizen out there that thought that his vote counted."

Among proposed changes, state House District 18, which is in the northwestern corner of New Hanover County served by Democrat Rep. Susi Hamilton, would lose parts of downtown Wilmington and gain parts of northeastern Brunswick County.

Some New Hanover County precincts would be split under the new map, Hall said. 

"It’s simply to confuse the voters so they don’t know who they’re voting for," Hall said.
Amoroso said she had not heard any problems with the state House and Senate redistricting maps, and she believed some precincts currently were split.

"It does get a little confusing," Amoroso said. "They have so many constraints, the folks that are drawing these maps, to make sure the lines are drawn fair and legal."

A ripple effect occurred from redistricting changes to the 1st District, Senate Redistricting Committee Chairman Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, has said, adding that lawmakers also tried to divide urban centers into more than one congressional district. 

"On one hand, is it better to have two congressmen representing your area to fight for your needs in (Washington) D.C. than to have one?" Amoroso said. "But we haven’t had that before."
"If they elect two very influential people … maybe it will help us," Hall said. "But I don’t see it, and it just smacks of gerrymandering."

Each of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts must have 733,499 people, and lawmakers must address minority-majority districts first under the Voting Rights Act, Amoroso said.
The VRA was enacted to protect minorities’ voting rights from discrimination, but Amoroso said it also can make it challenging to avoid gerrymandering.

"There’s no perfect map for everybody in the state," Amoroso said. "Our interests here down in the coast are going to be different than something up in Johnston County."

Hall agreed, "Our transportation needs in New Hanover County are different than those in Sampson County. The needs of Wilmington are different than those in the rural parts of Brunswick County," he said.
Redrawn maps must be approved by the United States Department of Justice.

Redistricting information is on the General Assembly website:

Senate slaps down House bill -- clock ticks on compromise. Yikes!

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / July 29, 2011

ABC News -- House Republicans Friday evening narrowly passed a proposal to raise the debt ceiling by $900 billion, cut spending by about that much and require another debt ceiling vote in about six months -- only to have Democrats in the Senate scuttle it.

As expected, the Senate voted down -- tabled -- the House Republican bill written by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The vote was 59-41.

Passage of Boehner’s bill could, however, strengthen the Republicans’ position, showing their unity as they enter negotiations with the Senate on what kind of compromise can ultimately pass both chambers of Congress and raise the debt ceiling before Aug. 2, when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said the government will start to default on its debt.

That drama will play out over the weekend and into next week as senators begin consideration of their own bill backed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., which would raise the debt ceiling through the coming general election and into 2013. The specifics of what language senators will consider are not yet set.

Democrats have noted their lack of input on the Boehner plan and say Republicans have refused to negotiate with them in recent days on a deficit reduction deal.

Republicans have pointed out that the Boehner plan and the earlier Cut, Cap and Balance Act are the only deficit reduction plans to pass a congressional vote in recent days.

A spokesman for Speaker Boehner reacted to the Senate's vote in a written statement.

“For the second time, the House has passed a reasonable, common-sense plan to raise the debt limit and cut spending," Boehner press secretary Michael Steel said, "and, for the second time, Sen. Reid has tabled it.  The responsibility to end this crisis is now entirely in the hands of Sen. Reid and President Obama.”

So it appeared the game of "Debt Default Chicken" continued.  The House, following the Senate, is preparing a statement vote of its own. Each side's vote is intended to prove to the other that their debt-ceiling bills can’t pass.

Here’s the plan:

With the 59-41 vote against the Boehner bill behind the Senate, Reid is expected to move to begin debate in the Senate on his own bill to raise the nation's debt ceiling and reduce the deficit. But . . .

At 1 p.m. Saturday, the House of Representatives will have a vote on that Reid debt ceiling bill.  The Republican-controlled House almost certainly will vote it down. Of course, none of this means much.  The real question is when the two sides will negotiate a compromise that can actually pass.

Those negotiations have quietly begun, but it's hard for many observers to see how they can have a deal passed and signed by Aug. 2 if they have not agreed to a compromise deal by midnight Saturday.

If they do have a deal by then, they could have a final Senate vote by Monday morning, setting up House vote late Monday, averting the economic catastrophe they have all been predicting would result from inaction.

But the temperature on Capitol Hill doesn't appear conducive to compromise.

As the Senate voted to table the Boehner bill, a testy exchange played out on the Senate floor as the senators battled over procedure, highlighting the divide that still remains between Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Knowing that Reid at this time does not have the votes to pass his own proposal, McConnell took to the floor and offered to vote on cloture immediately on the Reid measure.

McConnell noted the irony of the House likely voting on the Reid plan before the Senate.

“We would be happy to have that vote tonight, and I would also mention to my friend, the House of Representatives intends to vote on the Reid amendment tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m.,” McConnell said.

“We would be more than happy to accommodate the majority and have a vote on the Reid budget tonight. The markets are waiting for us to act."

It appeared to be a move to embarrass Reid, who apparently couldn’t hold a vote on cloture -- and win at the 60 vote threshold -- on his bill tonight.

Reid shot back, referencing days of delays in the House vote on Boehner's plan: “Let’s hope they’re more timely in their 1 o'clock vote tomorrow than they have been in the last few days.”

Reid said they would be happy to have a “simple majority vote,” on the proposal. A simple majority vote only needs 50 votes to pass. But McConnell obviously objected to a simple majority. He wanted it voted approved by 60 votes.

“This is almost an out-of-body experience to have someone suggest that we have a 50-vote threshold on a matter of this magnitude here in the United State Senate,” McConnell said. “I’m genuinely perplexed,
genuinely perplexed that my friend the majority leader doesn’t want to vote on his proposal.”

A frustrated Reid exclaimed, “We’ve been negotiating with ourselves,” and then left the podium.
Earlier this evening, after a night and day of uncertainty, cajoling and tweaking, the Boehner bill passed the House by a 218-210 vote.

Like their Senate colleagues, however, Democrats in the House held the line. Not a single one supported Boehner’s proposal. Twenty-two Republicans also opposed their party leadership’s self-described imperfect legislation.

Boehner delivered a fiery speech before the vote began, accusing the White House and President Obama of not offering their own proposal in months of negotiations.

“I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the president of the United States,” Boehner said, pointing out that until last week he was ready to accept some increased tax revenues to achieve a larger deficit reduction bargain.

“Put something on the table,” he yelled. “Tell this country where you are.”

Until last week, Boehner and President Obama were engaged in closed-door negotiations on a “grand bargain” to raise the debt ceiling while also trying to fix the problem of the debt by enacting sweeping reforms to Medicare and Social Security and overhauling the tax code. But Boehner abandoned those negotiations a week ago when he said Democrats demanded too many tax revenues to offset spending cuts.

The plan that passed Friday, also known as the Budget Control Act of 2011, was revised to ensure that a balanced budget amendment is passed by both Houses of Congress before a second tranche of debt limit increase authority is granted to the president in about six months.

The measure would find $917 billion in savings over 10 years, while the debt limit would be increased by $900 billion. The second stage of the plan would create a select joint committee on deficit reduction before the debt limit is increased again.

As Boehner left a meeting with Republicans Friday morning, he announced, "we have a deal," and noted that he was smiling.

He was not smiling Thursday night, when Republicans failed to even vote on an earlier version of the bill that lacked that balanced budget amendment provision. Boehner could only afford to lose support from 24 of his Republican colleagues, but when it became clear he didn’t have the votes Thursday evening after 5 p.m., the planned vote on the bill was delayed.

Including the balanced budget requirement effectively bought more votes Friday, particularly among freshman Tea Party members who came to Congress in 2010 promising to change Washington and rein in spending. To them, a constitutional amendment to balance the budget is key.

Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., was previously a ‘no’ and announced on Friday he was a solid ‘yea.’

“Votes on the debt ceiling should be a thing of the past. This mess is not about the debt ceiling; it’s about Washington’s addiction to spending,” Landry said in a statement shortly after the meeting. “My fellow freshmen and I are committed to finding a long-term solution to our nation’s debt. A balanced budget amendment will prevent an immediate downgrade of our credit rating and ensure that we’re not right back at this point next year.”

That sentiment was echoed by other rank-and-file Republicans who have decided to drop their opposition to the plan now that there is a mechanism for long-term reform in the legislation.

Senate Democrats now will start the arduous process of bringing up their own bill for consideration. At the end of a days-long process, Reid’s will have to find support from a handful of Republicans to pass his proposal through the Senate.

Republicans have said that many of the cost savings in Reid’s proposal are “phony” -- he counts, for instance, $1 trillion in savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan even though those wars are already winding down. He would raise the debt ceiling for much longer, too. Both proposals create a new Congressional committee on deficit reduction.

It is now up to Congressional leaders to find that deal that can pass both houses of Congress.

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl), John R. Parkinson (@jrpabcdc), Sunlen Miller, Michael S. James and Z. Byron Wolf (@zbyronwolf) contributed to this report.

Fuller, Fulton and Meares seek backing of New Hanover GOP members in Wilmington City Council race.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster  / July 29, 2011

Rhonda Amoroso, chairwoman of New Hanover County Republican Party, reported highlights of the organization's meeting in Wilmington on Thursday, July 28, at the Jungle Rapids conference center:

At our July meeting, we were delighted to have a packed house of Republican faithful -- over 100 in attendance, including many first-timers. This is always gratifying to see.

We discussed some business, but I think the highlight of the session was a series of brief talks by three of our GOP candidates for the Wilmington City Council. Each did a very creditable job, and those in attendance seemed impressed by the presentations.
Two other candidates were also on hand, and will shortly go through our leadership committee vetting process. They will speak at the next monthly meeting. A Republican candidate for Mayor of Wilmington was also on hand, and we will interview him in the near future through our standard vetting process.

Our New Hanover County Republicans are very excited at having such a strong field in the running for Wilmington city offices. We hope and feel that we can get some of our candidates elected, and will work hard to accomplish that.

There's a lot of energy and enthusiasm in our group at this time. Our members are organizing in the neighborhoods and precincts to support the GOP ticket at the local, county, district, state and national levels.


Napier Fuller

Napier Fuller, 37, grew up in Wilmington and attended New Hanover County Schools (Bradley Creek, Roland-Grise, and Hoggard ‘92). Napier Fuller and his wife, Sue Anne, live in historic downtown Wilmington; they have an infant son, Xavier. Fuller attended Washington University in St. Louis (BA, ‘96). He attended graduate school at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning where he earned a Master of Science degree in City Planning.

He became a Fellow at Dartmouth College’s Regional Technology Center focused on entrepreneurship. After applying for a patent, he worked on a startup in Silicon Valley where he developed new ways to help people search for information on wireless phones.

In 2008, he returned home to work at Atlantic Brokerage, his father’s firm, as a commercial real estate broker. Fuller has a great passion for solving problems related to urban growth and economic development; he will help our city fulfill its potential as one of the best places to live and to work on the East Coast.

Fuller is well qualified to serve on Wilmington's City Council. In recent years, he served on the City of Wilmington’s Tree Commission, City of Wilmington’s Sister City Commission, City of Wilmington's Board of Adjustment, Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors Legislative Affairs Committee, and represented the USA on a six month graduate internship at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium focusing on mobile phone regulation.

He is active in the community: Cape Fear Rotary Club, the Wilmington Roadrunners, the Residents of Old Wilmington, Knights of Columbus, and St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

These are excerpts from an interview with Napier at the New Hanover County GOP session:

The four big issues that we are going to be working on are economic development, traffic and congestion, crime rates, and lower taxes. The most important of those is improving the economy, making it drive again. And, as I mentioned in my speech, the economic development policy is very disjointed in Wilmington. We have a number of different conflicting groups fighting through press releases, and I want very much to be a unifier and develop a powerful strategy so that we can all move forward.


Joshua Fulton

This information is excerpted from Josh's campaign announcement:

Joshua Fulton is a fiscal conservative running for Wilmington City Council.

He believes that keeping wealth in the hands of citizens is key to promoting economic prosperity, and that the city of Wilmington already takes far too much of its citizens' wealth.

Wilmington currently has the 5th highest tax burden of the largest 33 cities in the state. It costs the average citizen over $1000 in taxes and fees to live here every year.

Wilmington's debt has doubled since 2004, and its expenditures have increased by 56%.  If responsibility for water and sewer service hadn't been transferred to the CFPUA, Wilmington's debt and expenditures both would have more than doubled.
The current City Council will not change its path.

Whether it's a "municipal services district" tax, longer hours for parking meters, or $1,200 fees for sidewalk cafes, the City Council will simply try to find more creative ways to tax us for their excessive spending.

The city budget can and must be cut.  Joshua Fulton has laid out a plan to show how at least $10M can be eliminated from the budget.

If there's one area of spending that can be increased, it's police services.  FBI statistics currently rank Wilmington as the nation's 97th most dangerous city.  That is far too high for anyone to be comfortable with.  Storm water infrastructure also needs improvement.

If you believe the current City Council is taking us in the wrong direction, and the things just mentioned are important to you, vote for Joshua Fulton in November! 

In remarks at the New Hanover County session on Thursday, July 28, Fulton added these perspectives:

"This year's municipal budget is over four percent higher than last year's. We spent $50 million on a convention center that is going to be in the red according to the city's own numbers. So I'm on a platform of lowering taxes, and reducing spending."


Frank Christopher Meares 

From his campaign Web site:

Frank Christopher Meares was born and raised in Wilmington, NC. He currently works for the American Red Cross. His grandfather was a small business owner - founding 218 Antiques and Armory. His father is a welder and his mother a dental hygienist in Wilmington. His roots in the Wilmington have kept him grounded in his Conservative Republican beliefs. Frank feels that government should be small and local. Not a massive, overarching bureaucracy where the creators and hard-workers are punished.  His motto is "The government should not make people, the people should make the government."

During his high school years, he was involved in teen court and had the opportunity to meet supreme court justices and different legislatures. He also spent time volunteering with the Bellamy Mansion Museum in downtown Wilmington. Since that time, he has become involved with Americans For Prosperity and a GOP presinct chair for Wrightsville Beach. With his experiences and drive he feels that he needs to step up and become part of the Wilmington City Council and truly begin the process of saving the city that he and many others love.


Rebuilding and maintaining the city’s infrastructure.   

Fiscal responsibility by the city government through proper money management and review.  

Wilmington must become more business friendly so that the free market can do what it does best- creating jobs and promoting growth.

    The following is excerpted from Frank's remarks at the GOP meeting:

    We are second generation Wilmingtonians, and we have lived in this wonderful city for over 100 years. I've been here for 28 years. During this time, I've seen Wilmington at its height, and at its lowest point, and I think we're close to that low now, with roads that are falling apart, internal water restrictions that are going through the roof, so many issues with our infrastructure that we don't pay attention to.

    One of my favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill -- "Courage is what it takes to stand and speak. And also what it takes to sit and listen." We need to sit down with business leaders, with those who want to bring business into Wilmington, and exchange ideas with them. We don't need to burden them with endless regulations. The boards and zoning boards are putting regulations out there that are strangling our economy. This needs to stop.


     Wallace Vanhoy, who chairs the County GOP's candidate development comittee, praised GOP Chairwoman Rhonda Amoroso for her leadership in attracting candidates to the race for important Wilmington City posts:

    "I can't say enough about Rhonda. She has attracted growing crowds of energized Republicans who are attending our monthly meetings. And our key elected officials show that they want to participate in our activities. Rick Catlin does a superb job, and I an looking forward to his serving in the General Assembly in the new House seat. Our City Council candidates who spoke tonight impressed the crowd, and I am certain they will wage very strong campaigns for office. We are fortunate to have them in the running."

    Contact Rhonda Amoroso

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    David Bozeman on Pantano: 'The man is fearless, not afraid to call excess taxation 'theft', and speaks from a belief system he longs to share with anyone who will listen.'

    Courage & Conviction — Not Compromise 

    By David Bozeman  /  NetRight Daily / July 28, 2011

    Why is it that nearly every time there’s a federal budget impasse, Republicans find themselves on the losing end politically? 

    More important, why is it that our on-going “debate” resembles more a sitting room tiff than a real clash of ideologies? Political talk shows resemble Miss Manners seminars with charges of one side (usually Republicans) being “stubborn” and “refusing to compromise” or throwing a hissy-fit and walking out of negotiations?

    So, what follows here is not an endorsement of any candidate for public office but rather a lament, the same one we’ve all heard before and which we will continue to make until the GOP’s leaders finally live up to their designations.

    Ilario Pantano, who barely lost to Blue-Dog Democrat Mike McIntyre last year in North Carolina’s Seventh Congressional District, and is planning a re-match (though, personally, I find this up-and-comer, with strong military leadership, business and law-enforcement credentials better suited for the U.S. Senate — the next seat is open in 2014 — and party-spokesman status immediately) recently appeared on a Fayetteville radio talk show discussing the budget stand-off. His comments were passionate, crisp, concise and predicated on background and context.
    The man is fearless, not afraid to call excess taxation “theft,” and though many Republicans advance the notion of reducing the debt by growing the economy, he is straightforward and speaks not from pragmatism but a belief system he is longing to share with anyone who will listen.

    Economics 101? This is how you teach it. Pantano, responding to bailouts and subsidies, reminded listeners that what you reward, you get more of. Reward failure (i.e., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their shoddy lending practices) and moral turpitude and you will get more of the same.

    And, of course, punish wealth and risk-taking, and you will surely have less. Why aren’t more of the GOP’s presidential contenders offering moderates and independents the same much-needed refresher course?
    Pantano offered not just the cursory denunciations of both parties for pork barrel spending and debt, he boldly chided Senate leader Mitch McConnell for failing to take charge on the issue, and extolled Jim DeMint (SC) and Marco Rubio (FL) for stepping up to the plate
    Despite Republican excesses, he said, the GOP philosophy (which respects risk, incentive and wealth creation) is better suited to lift us out of our economic — dare I say it? — malaise. And the much heralded Clinton 1990’s of wealth and prosperity were made possible, in large part, by Reagan’s tax cuts, military build-up (which made the world safer) and a vigilant Republican Congress.

    Current House and Senate Republicans surely deserve kudos for — gasp! — sticking to their promise not to raise taxes.

    Once elected, however, Republicans tend to forget that the job of educating voters and defining themselves has not ended, it has only just begun. If you forfeit the task, Democrats and the media will gladly take it up for you.

    The conservative Republican economic message is foreign and extreme only to Beltway pundits and bureaucrats. Average Americans understand common-sense conservatism when it is presented boldly and succinctly. If liberty is to thrive, we citizens must amplify those voices that courageously speak out, for they alone are mindful that, among our gravest threats, are our own timid souls.

    David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

    Pantano: 'Cut. Cap. Balance. America's only path back to prosperity!'

    Verne Strickland Blogmaster
    July 28, 2011


    Cut. Cap. Balance.

    Those three words outline America’s only path back to prosperity.  I know it; you know it; Speaker Boehner knows it…even President Obama knows it—he just refuses to give up his dream of transforming America into a “Nanny State.”

    On Tuesday, our country faces a critical deadline: reaching the debt ceiling.  Despite months of debate on Capitol Hill about whether or not to raise the debt limit and how to restore America’s fiscal health, nothing has been accomplished.  Now we are about to pass a point of no return.

    Now, more than any other time in our nation’s history, we need leadership in Washington.  We can’t afford to compromise on this issue.  It’s cut, cap and balance…or else.  Earlier this month I became the first Congressional candidate or member of Congress from North Carolina to sign the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” pledge.  Now I’m asking you to do the same.

    Will you follow this link to add your name to my campaign’s “Cut, Cap, and Balance” pledge?

    I’m sick and tired of the federal government spending money we don’t have, paid for by governments we don’t trust (like China), and I know you are too.  At some point in our lives, each of us has learned what it means to spend too much—and what the repercussions are.  Why can’t our government learn this lesson?

    We have to cut spending right now.  And I’m not talking about a few million dollars here and a few more there.  I mean trillions of dollars across the board.  It’s the only way for America to survive.  But since our elected leaders in Washington have failed to grasp the severity of our economic situation, it’s up to us to show them.

    That’s why I’m asking you to join me by signing my campaign’s “Cut, Cap, and Balance” pledge without delay. It may be the most important thing you can do right now for our country.

    This is do-or-die time for America.  We have no choice but to cut, cap and balance the budget.  I hope I can count on you to sign the pledge and show Congress and the President that it’s time to take action.

    Semper Fi,

    Ilario Pantano
    Republican for Congress - NC-7

    Our mailing address is:
    Ilario Pantano
    PO Box 11280
    Wilmington, NC 28404

    Artist Van Gogh and NC mapmakers had one thing in common -- nobody liked their work!

    Verne Strickland Blogmaster / July 28, 2011

    The celebrated artist Vincent Van Gogh and the North Carolina redistricting map makers have one thing in common -- almost no one likes their work. Van Gogh later became famous and revered, but this happy turnaround cannot be predicted for the bizarre squiggles of the guys who drew the maps that will affect North Carolina politics and politicians for the decade to come.

    Andy Yates, political strategist for GOP congressional candidate Ilario Pantano, sounded off on the work of the committee in a recent interview. Here is part of what he said:

     The Seventh District historically been somewhat of a coastal district -- at least the Pender, New Hanover, Brunswick coast -- and that's still true, although you know how Pender County's split, and you have downtown Wilmington cut out of the district.

    But the focus has always been on the coastal region, and that's been the emphasis of the district for sometime now. I think even Congressman McIntyre would tell you that, and you could judge that by the amount of time he spends in the area. The counties down here -- Columbus and Bladen -- are tied very closely, and a lot of people come to the Wilmington area for recreation and to shop, and many come down here even for work.

    I think a lot of those people were happy to have an even more coastal district. Now they end up with a district that stretches from Wilmington to Raleigh, and you've got people who live two hours away, and the only thing they know about coastal North Carolina is that it's a place to come to vacation a couple of weeks a year.

    When you draw these unusual districts, and you don't put counties together that have typically been areas that fit together, it's hard for someone to represent all the divergent interests. You've got coastal communities in this district, you've got very rural agricultural communities, and then you've got the Raleigh suburbs. I just don't see what all those areas have in common.

    You look at downtown Wilmington, and you've got a district that stretches to the North Carolina-Virginia border in Currituck County. I asked a reporter how long he thought it woul take to get from downtown Wilmington to the Virginia border, and he said it would take most of the day.

    As Ilario said, the areas that were cut out were Democratic precincts, and if they were added back in it might be a little tougher for him to win, but it would be the right thing for the City of Wilmington, and for the Brunswick/Pender/New Hanover region for these areas to be together. I can't think of one think that downtown Wilmington has in common with northern Currituck County aside from the fact that they're in the same State.

    Meanwhile, Democrats are rummaging about frantically to try to put some sense into the equation, and who can blame them? It's likely that almost any change would be for the better -- for everone involved.

    But would it be too little too late? That may be the case. But here's the news on that development:

    Democrats offer N.C. redistricting alternative maps

    By Gary D. Robertson 

    RALEIGH, N.C. Democrats in the North Carolina Legislature are offering alternative maps that redraw election district boundaries for themselves and the state's congressional representatives to counter Republican plans still likely to be approved this week.

    Senate Democrats and the chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus introduced three bills today (July 25) prior to General Assembly floor sessions later in the day in which Republican-written maps will be debated and voted upon. House Democrats also will offer alternatives.

    Democrats say GOP boundaries are illegal because they put too many black voters in certain districts to reduce their overall influence, cross too many county lines and split too many voting precincts.

    A Democratic plan would have only one Senate district with a black voting-age population above 50 percent. The Republican plan has nine such districts.

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    State Senator David Rouzer seems anxious to get 2012 NC GOP7 race underway. What's the rush, Senator?

    Verne Strickland Blogmaster / July 27, 2011
    State Senator David Rouzer has stirred up a political hornets' nest with his announcement on July 20 that he is interested in running for U.S. Congress in North Carolina's Seventh Congressional District.
    The fact that he is throwing his hat in the ring for a run at the U.S. Congress in North Carolina's Seventh District is not at all surprising. He has an impressive background in business and government, and has already released the names of a stable of GOP heavy hitters committed to endorsing him and supporting his candidacy. 

    What is raising some eyebrows is how quickly the Johnston County Republican bolted out of the starting gate after North Carolina's Congressional Redistricting showed that the desperate squiggles of official mapmakers put Rouzer into the Seventh District, where he declares that he will face off against Republican Ilario Pantano of Wilmington.
    Of course, thorough advance planning is always a good idea. But there is the impression here that the Johnston County businessman and legislator is showing a curious degree of haste to launch a campaign whose GOP primary will not take place until May 8, 2012 -- almost a year away.

    Was it premature? Opportunistic?  Excessively anxious? Some are teeing off on Rouzer's revelation of his ambitions before the ink is even dry on newly-drafted North Carolina redistricting maps.
     This story referenced the senator's curious rush to get into the race at the earliest possible moment.

    VOTE 2012: Johnston Co. senator will square off against Pantano; Goolsby and Rabon support run.

    By Colin Campbell / The News & Observer
    RALEIGH, NC (THE NEWS & OBSERVER) -- One day after new redistricting maps put Johnston County in the 7th Congressional District, N.C. Sen. David Rouzer of McGee's Crossroads announced Wednesday that he'll run for the seat in 2012.

    Rouzer won't be challenging his area's current Congresswoman, fellow Republican Renee Ellmers of Dunn. Under the maps released Tuesday, Ellmers' 2nd District would extend west from her Harnett County home into Lee, Moore, Chatham and Randolph counties.

    Rouzer wants to represent the district extending southeast from his Johnston County home, covering Sampson, Duplin, Bladen, Columbus, Brunswick and New Hanover counties.

    He'll face Ilario Pantano of Wilmington, the former U.S. Marine who ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Rep. Mike McIntyre in 2010.

    Pantano months ago announced his plans to run again, long before the new district maps were released.
    NC State Senator David Rouzer to challenge Ilario Pantano in GOP/7th primary.  

    News release issued July 20 by David Rouzer Campaign Committee

    RALEIGH - State Senator David Rouzer announced today that he will seek election to the U.S. Congress in the newly formed 7th Congressional District.

    Under the newly released Congressional redistricting maps, the 7th District, currently held by Congressman Mike McIntyre, will include Johnston County and the counties south of Johnston as you travel I-40 east, ending with portions of New Hanover and Pender counties.

    “The federal government has steered our country on a dangerous course and everyone knows it,” said Senator David Rouzer. “The choices we make moving forward will determine whether we remain the beacon of freedom in the world with economic prosperity at home or become a third-rate nation. We will determine whether our children and grandchildren live the American dream or whether they will be asking us what it was once like to live in America.”

    “The only way to reform our federal government and regain our foothold for the future is to remove the shackles of taxation and burdensome regulation that have put millions of people out of work. We must return to the Founding principles of free enterprise and self-reliance that made this country an economic power and the envy of the world,” added Rouzer.

    “To do this we must elect members of Congress who have proven themselves to be common-sense conservative leaders. My conservative record in the state legislature and the relationships built from years of work with many of the citizens and the major industries throughout the 7th District make this a natural move,” the Johnston County resident said.

    Rouzer currently represents Johnston and Wayne counties in the North Carolina Senate where he serves as Co-Chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee, the Natural and Economic Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, and the Joint Regulatory Reform Committee. In that capacity Rouzer was a leader in the effort to reform the state’s regulatory agencies and halt new regulations that would be a hindrance to small businesses and job creation.

    Before his election to the state Senate, he served as a top advisor to U.S. Senators Jesse Helms and Elizabeth Dole and was instrumental in getting a tobacco buyout that has been so important for our state. Rouzer also served as a senior level presidential appointee to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    Among those already supporting Rouzer’s bid for Congress are Mrs. Jesse Helms, former U.S. Senator Lauch Faircloth, N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, former State Senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate Fred Smith, State Sen. Bill Rabon of Brunswick County, State Sen. Thom Goolsby of New Hanover County, State Sen. Wesley Meredith of Cumberland County, State Sen. Brent Jackson of Sampson County, N.C Rep. J.H. Langdon of Johnston County, Bill Prestage of Sampson County, and Dial Gray and Frank Grainger of Columbus County.

    Note: The 7th Congressional District includes Johnston, Sampson, Duplin, Cumberland, Hoke, Robeson, Columbus, Bladen, Brunswick, Pender, New Hanover, and Lenoir counties.

    Here's what one USA DOT COM reader had to say about the curious timing of the Rouzer announcement:
    July 25, 2011 9:03 PM  
    Given the public statement by Senator Rouzer shortly after the release of the new map that he will seek office in the new 7th District, I don't see any ambiguity at all in the "purpose" of drawing the district this way. That his candidacy will paint him as the GOP version of Brad Miller, who they have blasted for the last decade for doing the same thing, will be a stain on the entire party far beyond the borders of the 7th. That he would subject his party to such criticism to advance his own personal political agenda and career, give up his seat of power in the NC Senate where he has championed the cause of his constitients to their benefit, and place himself as just one more freshman in the US House where he will likely accomplish very little in the first term, is the height of arrogance, and the antithesis of what a public servant should do.
    Others questioned the advanced state of Rouzer's endorsements in concert with the release of the results of the Redistricting Committee's report, suggesting that much planning had gone on in anticipation of the Senator Rouzer's public disclosure of his plans. 
    This statement was also especially interesting:

    Well… that was fast. Rouzer to run for N.C.-7

    I wrote my post about the new reconfigured U.S. Districts less than 12 hours ago. I happened to mention that the new 7th goes all the way up to Johnston County, which happens to be the home of highly ambitious state senator David Rouzer. I further mentioned that Rouzer really, really wants to be a congressman. Just call me Ms. Cleo, suckas.
    State Sen. David Rouzer of Johnston County said he plans to seek the GOP nomination for the 7th congressional seat next year.
    Rouzer said he decided to make the run, after the GOP legislature came out with a newly configured 7th district that swings northward to include Johnston County. He will likely face a competitive primary with Illario Pantano of Wilmington.
    “The ball kind of rolled my way,” Rouzer said. “When they redrew the maps. When I looked at this version it is a very strong district that matched my background and my ties going back to my years working with Sen Helms and Sen. Dole.”
    The N&O
    Hmmm… so the highly politically-connected Rouzer is shocked -shocked- that his home base just happened to be placed into this new Republican-leaning open seat.
    Among those supporting Rouzer’s bid are Mrs. Jesse Helms, former Sen. Lauch Faircloth, state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, former state Sen. Fred Smith, state Sen. Bill Rabon of Brunswick County, state Sen. Thom Goolsby of New Hanover County, State Sen. Wesley Meredith of Cumberland County, State Sen. Brent Jackson of Sampson,  County, state Rep. J.H. Langdon of Johnston County, Bill Prestage of Sampson County, and Dial Gray and Frank Grainger of Columbus County.
    I’m sure it’s just a wacky coincidence he ended up in the 7th. Lucky him!

    Anyways, this should be an interesting primary now. Pantano has a head start, but Rouzer is personally wealthy and has the Helms machine (and from the looks of those endorsements, the Dee Stewart machine) behind him.


    VS: Okay. There you have it. USA DOT COM will be the go-to place for all the inside and outside news on the 2012 political season -- with special attention paid to the interests of the Cape Fear Region. Stay tuned friends. This is going to be big. And it's going to be fun.

    Likely GOP gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory raised $1M in first half of 2011.

    Verne Strickland Blogmaster / July 27, 2011

    By: Associated Press
    July 27, 2011 

    Likely GOP candidate McCrory raises $1M
    RALEIGH -- Likely Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory has raised more than $1 million for the first half of the year for a campaign that has yet to officially start.

    The draft of a campaign finance document being filed with state regulators this week and obtained by The Associated Press shows The Pat McCrory Committee raised just over $1 million between January 1 and June 30. The campaign had $940,000 in the bank at the end of last month.

    The amounts are the strongest indication yet McCrory wants a rematch with Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue next year. Perdue narrowly defeated McCrory in 2008.

    Perdue hasn't announced her campaign numbers. Candidate committees must turn in their reports by Friday.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    New polls confirm Barack Obama's Democratic base is crumbling.

    Verne Strickland Blogmaster / July 27, 2011 

    Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm      

    Los Angeles Times

    the White House during obama's debt remarks 7-25-11

    With all of the spotlights on the high-stakes debt maneuverings by President Obama and Speaker John Boehner the last few days, few people noticed what Vermont's Sen. Bernie Sanders said:
    "I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition."
    This is political treason 469 days before a presidential election. Yes, yes, this is just a crusty old New England independent for now, albeit one who caucuses loyally with Harry Reid's Democratic posse.
    But while most of the media focuses on Republican Boehner and the tea party pressures on him to raise the debt limit not one Liberty dime, Sanders' mumblings are a useful reminder that hidden in the shadows of this left-handed presidency are militant progressives like Sanders who don't want to cut one Liberty dime of non-Pentagon spending.Vermont's independent senator Bernie Sanders
    Closely read the transcript of Obama's Monday statement on the debt talks stalemate. The full transcript is right here. And the full transcript of Boehner's response is right here.
    An Unbalanced Approach to a Balanced Approach
    Using political forensics, notice any clues, perhaps telltale code words that reveal to whom he was really addressing his Monday message? Clearly, it wasn't congressional Republicans -- or Democrats, for that matter.
    The nation's top talker uttered 2,264* words in those remarks. He said "balanced approach" seven times, three times in a single paragraph.
    That's the giveaway. Obviously, David Plouffe and the incumbent's strategists have been polling phrases for use in this ongoing debt duel, which is more about 2012 now than 2011. "Balanced approach" is no sweet talk for old Bernie or tea sippers on the other side.
    Obama is running for the center already, aiming for the independents who played such a crucial role in his victorious coalition in 2008. They were the first to start abandoning the good ship Obama back in 2009 when all the ex-state senator could do was talk about healthcare, when jobs and the economy were the peoples' priority.
    Democrats lost the New Jersey and Virginia governor's offices largely as a result of that and Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts. And then came last November's midterms when voters chose the approach of that historic pack of House-bound Republicans.John Boehner Obama Harry Reid enjoy ongoing Deficit Talks 7-23-11
    Republicans have their own poll problems in some areas. But even without an identified GOP presidential alternative, we've had a plethora of recent polls showing Obama's fading job approval, especially on the economy.
    Now, comes a new ABC News/Washington Post poll with a whole harvest of revelations, among them, strong indications that Obama's liberal base is starting to crumble. Among the nuggets:
    Despite those hundreds of billions of blown stimulus dollars and almost as many upturn promises from Joe Biden, 82% of Americans still say their job market is struggling. Ninety percent rate the economy negatively, including half who give it the worst rating of "poor."
    Are You Better Off Today Than Jan. 20, 2009?
    A slim 15% claim to be "getting ahead financially," half what it was in 2006. Fully 27% say they're falling behind financially. That's up 6 points since February.
    A significant majority (54%) says they've been forced to change their lifestyle significantly as a result of the economic times -- and 60% of them are angry, up from 44%.Button Hillary I Told U So 2012
    To be sure, 30 months after he returned to home cooking, George W. Bush still gets majority blame for the economy.
    But here's the breaking news for wishful Democrats: George W. Bush isn't running for anything but exercise.
    "More than a third of Americans now believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy, and confidence in his ability to create jobs is sharply eroding among  his base," the Post reports.
    Strong support among liberal Democrats for Obama's jobs record has plummeted 22 points from 53% down below a third. African Americans who believe the president's measures helped the economy have plunged from 77% to barely half.
    Obama's overall job approval on the economy has slid below 40% for the first time, with 57% disapproving. And strong disapprovers outnumber approvers by better than two-to-one.

    Lawmakers could discuss banning gay marriage in North Carolina.

    Verne Strickland Blogmaster / July 26, 2011

    House Republicans can't override Perdue veto on Voter ID bill, but blitz her abortion veto.

    Posted: Jul 26, 2011 10:23 PM EDT Updated: Jul 26, 2011 10:23 PM EDT 
    RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - Lawmakers in Raleigh could talk about banning gay marriage in North Carolina.

    A bill to introduce possible constitutional amendments is on a committee agenda for Wednesday.

    Lawmakers must approve rule changes for the session first. If that happens, proposed amendments could be heard on Thursday.

    House Republicans tried to override Governor Beverly Perdue's veto of the Voter ID Bill on Tuesday. They did not have enough support.

    They did override her abortion bill veto, which now goes over to the Senate.

    Trump to GOP -- 'Don't raise debt ceiling. Default will prevent Obama's reelection.'

    Verne Strickland Blogmaster / July 26 / 2011


    Donald Trump Debt Ceiling Default

    HUFFPOST Updated: 7/26/11 01:08 PM ET

    On Monday, Donald Trump urged Republicans to reject any deal with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and let the country risk default. Economists and administration officials have warned that defaulting on our debt would have dire economic consequences, but for Trump there is an upside: the crisis would prevent President Barack Obama from being reelected.

    "Frankly the Republicans would be crazy unless they get 100 percent of the deal that they want right now to make any deal,” Trump said on "Fox and Friends" Monday. "If this happens, for instance if this stuff is going on prior to an election, he can’t get reelected. He possibly can’t get elected anyway. … The fact is, unless the Republicans get 100% of what they want, and that may include getting rid of Obamacare, which is a total disaster, then they should not make a deal other than a minor extension which would take you before the election which would ensure Obama doesn’t get elected, which would be a great thing."

     Host Brian Kilmead pointed out that Americans currently blame Republicans more than Obama for the debt ceiling crisis, but Trump responded that, in the long run, the blame will fall on Obama, not Republicans.
    "I don’t care about polls," Trump said. "When it comes time to default, they’re not going to remember any of the Republicans' names. They are going to remember in history books one name, and that’s Obama."

    NC lawmakers like three sets of redistricting maps. Final passage may come Thursday.

    Verne Strickland Blogmaster  July 26, 2011

    Associated Press / July 25, 2011 / 9:39 PM

    The General Assembly completed most of its work Monday on proposed district maps for its own seats and for North Carolina's congressional delegation, but Democrats predicted Republicans would have to redraw them later because they'll be labeled illegal in litigation.

    Republicans leading the once-a-decade redistricting process brushed aside the Democratic admonishments and substitute maps and approved the boundaries the GOP calls lawful following hours of debate. The Senate gave its approval to a map for the chamber's 50 seats and passed proposed boundaries for 13 congressional seats. The House also approved a plan for its 120 seats.

    The largely party-line votes set the stage for final passage of the maps by Thursday, but they will still have to be signed off on by a federal court or U.S. Justice Department attorneys to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act before they can be used for the 2012 elections. Other litigation also is likely as Democrats continued to disagree with Republicans over how the GOP apportioned black voters in all three maps.

    Democrats predicted the GOP-penned maps would never be implemented because they violated federal and state laws and court rulings. They said the boundaries weaken the political influence of black voters by lumping them in certain districts to isolate them and make surrounding districts more white and Republican. Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, who is black, said the GOP produced "ghettoized" districts.

    "The judges will see the maps for what they are, and what they are is an attempt to disenfranchise African Americans by segregating them and diminishing their voting rights and the influence of women in North Carolina," said Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, as the House debated proposed House districts. "Those two groups were not listened to in the process."

    Republicans disagreed and spent most of Monday defending the maps. They cite legal rulings and the federal Voting Rights Act in arguing they're required to create majority-black districts - of which they drew more than 30 - where the population allows it and to protect the state from outside lawsuits.

    The map "produced fair, legal and competitive districts that will allow any candidate to run in these districts with the opportunity to win," said Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, the Senate Redistricting Committee chairman as the congressional maps were debated.

    Districts are redrawn every 10 years to reflect population growth reported by the U.S. Census. With Republicans holding a majority in both chambers for the first time in 140 years, GOP lawmakers are seeking to put their imprint on boundaries to extend their control of the General Assembly and boost their representation on Capitol Hill.

    The congressional plan approved by the Senate would increase Republican voter registration in four districts currently held by Democrats and place two pairs of incumbents - Democrats Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre as well as David Price and Brad Miller - in the same districts.

    The plan was approved after the GOP majority in the chamber rejected several Democratic amendments. One would have reworked all 13 districts, while two others would have adjusted districts in the mountains and the Triangle region.

    Elections data project that Republicans could win as many as 10 of the state's 13 U.S. House seats in the new plan. Democrats currently have a 7-6 advantage. The Democrats' alternative statewide map would have given Republicans an 8-5 advantage instead, based on how many districts in which John McCain would have defeated Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race.

    The Democratic map also would have kept all of Asheville and Buncombe County in the 11th Congressional District represented by Democrat Heath Shuler and all of Robeson County in the 7th District represented by McIntyre.

    Democrats also offered alternative plans that would retain so-called "influence districts" in current boundaries that have at least a 40 percent black voting-age population. Democrats argue such districts comply with the Voting Rights Act by still effectively allowing black voters to elect candidates of their choice and preserving their overall political power.

    The GOP plans "were drawn specifically to dump African American voters," charged Rep. William Wainwright, D-Craven, who is black.

    Democrats said their alternative plans also were better than the Republican proposals because they crossed fewer county lines and the districts were generally more compact.

    Republican mapmakers say Democrats failed to offer legal evidence that "packing" exists or timely fixes to perceived problems. Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, the House redistricting chairman, complained that Democrats offered substitute maps on the day of the floor debate after months of redistricting discussions.

    The plan "is nothing more than a strategy that once again sandbags the people of North Carolina by letting something arrive on our desks right off the press," Lewis told colleagues.

    Legislative maps would draw 20 pairs of lawmakers into the same district, forcing them to run against each other if they aimed to remain in the Legislature in 2013. Twenty-one are Republicans and 19 are Democrats.

    Two Democrats - Reps. Dewey Hill of Columbus County and Bill Brisson of Bladen County - voted with Republicans in passing the House plan 68-50. GOP Rep. Glen Bradley of Franklin County, drawn into the same district with Nash County Republican Jeff Collins, voted against the map.

    The congressional plan still must be approved by the House. The House and Senate also must take up the districts for each other's chamber, but historically each chamber has avoided changing the other's boundaries without permission. Redistricting plans don't go to Gov. Beverly Perdue's desk, becoming law immediately without her consideration.

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    New Hanover County Republican Party doesn't like latest congressional map version

    Verne Strickland Blogmaster

    July 25, 2011     
    The New Hanover County Republican Party expresses its opposition to Map 2A for Congressional District 7 that was recently proposed by the N.C Legislature’s Redistricting Committee Rucho-Lewis. 

    “This new map defies logic and common sense,” says Chairwoman Rhonda Amoroso.  “It reaches too far north to Johnston County and too far west into Hoke County.  Moreover, Map #2A is defective in that it creates Congressional District 3 out of a jigsaw puzzle piece of downtown Wilmington lumping it with part of neighboring Pender County and stretches all the way up north to the Virginia border in Currituck County.  

    "This is the kind of distortion that would make Elbridge Gerry blush," she continued.  "We believe that a Congressional District should reflect, to the extent practicable, the commonality of interests of a particular community or geographic region.  To mix coastal and agricultural areas willy nilly to advance some unknown agenda is what we fought against for so many years.”  

    The previously proposed map, #1, was well crafted and was indeed a true “coastal district” bound by common interests inherent in our coastal economies, tourism, and beautiful beaches, Amoroso said.  The NHC GOP went on record commending the Committee at the July 7, 2011 Forum for its work in producing Map #1.  

    “However, we feel that there has been a ‘Bait and Switch’ with the manipulations incorporated into Map #2A.  This new D7-2A map randomly lumps together inland agricultural areas that have wholly different economies, population densities, and communities that have little, if any, common interests with the residents of New Hanover County.” said Chairwoman Amoroso.

    In the interest of fairness and common sense, the NHC GOP strongly urges the Redistricting Committee to go back to the drawing board and produce a Congressional District that reflects the original “coastal district” in proposed map #1. 

    The residents of Southeast North Carolina deserve to be represented by a Congressman who understands the issues facing our coastal community here in New Hanover County and that of our coastal neighbors.

    Contact with inquiries:  Rhonda K. Amoroso, Chairwoman of the New Hanover County GOP 910-399-2508 or