Verne Strickland / USA DOT COM / May 13, 2013
GOP, Koch brothers find there’s nothing finer than Carolina
Cash from groups backed by the Koch brothers and others helped North Carolina Republicans build a robust conservative infrastructure and fundraising network, leading to the GOP winning both the governor’s mansion and the state legislature in the same year for the first time since Reconstruction.
Since November, change has come quickly.
Gov. Pat McCrory appointed a Koch ally and major Republican donor, Art Pope, as the state’s budget director.
(Also on POLITICO: Dems learn money isn't everything)
In the legislature, Republicans are expected to pass an overhaul of the state’s tax code, the public education system and election laws, including a controversial voter ID bill. The state House on Monday voted to allow concealed weapons on college campuses, at sporting events and in businesses that serve alcohol.
Several other measures, such as one that would establish Christianity as the official state religion, are not expected to pass but have made national headlines in recent weeks.
And last month, Pope proposed eliminating public financing for judicial races, and McCrory canned members of the State Board of Elections just as the board announced an investigation into contributions made to governor’s campaign.
Democrats are still trying to figure out what happened.
“I’ll do anything for an hour with David Axelrod and for him to tell us what do to,” said Martin Nesbitt, a top Democrat in the state Senate.
(Also on POLITICO: Democratic strategist: Party 'in decline')
There’s fear on the left that the outside cash and gerrymandered districts means the bad news isn’t over. Sen. Kay Hagan, won on the coattails of Obama’s 2008 win but is considered vulnerable next year. Rep. Mike McIntyre, who was re-elected by fewer than 600 votes last year, is also a top Republican target.
The Republican establishment has taken notice. McCrory gave the Republican weekly radio address last Saturday and Karl Rove is scheduled to speak at the state GOP convention next month in Charlotte. (A Rove spokesman declined to elaborate on the speech.)