Under the Dome

Cate Edwards talks about mother, father on CBS morning show

Cate Edwards, the oldest daughter of former presidential candidate John Edwards, has become a spokeswoman for Count Us, Know Us, Join Us, an organization advocating for people living with advanced breast cancer.

"When my mom, Elizabeth Edwards, was first diagnosed with breast cancer, it hit me like a ton of bricks," Cate Edwards recounts on the website

Edwards spoke with Gayle King, Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose of "CBS This Morning" on Thursday about her mom's philosophy on living with advanced breast cancer until her death in December 2010 and other family issues.

As Elizabeth Edwards shifted her focus from "beating cancer" to living with advanced cancer, she allowed herself to be sad on some days, filled with hope on others while marveling on others that she was alive.

Cate Edwards also told the morning news hosts about forgiving her father after his highly publicized affair with Rielle Hunter.

"One of the toughest things is to forgive someone and it's a lot harder than holding a grudge," Cate Edwards said. "But he's my dad he's my family, I love him, we've been through a lot together."

These days, Edwards said, her father has "been spending a lot of time with the kids." Emma Claire is 15 and her brother Jack is 13. He also regularly sees Quinn, his daughter with Hunter, according to his eldest. "My dad spends a ton of time with her," Cate Edwards said in the brief segment.

-- Anne Blythe

Protestors cry shame on NC's hands-off policy on new health law

About 20 protestors rallied before the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Thursday morning to express frustration that state officials are doing little to promote the new health care law.

Brandishing placards, the protestors denounced the state government's passivity as "criminal," "sabotage" and "missing in action."

With less than two weeks to go before enrollment begins for subsidized insurance, polls continue to show that a significant portion of the nation's population is ignorant about, or confused by the nation's health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Lt. Gov. Forest calls for massive teacher pay hike

Tea Party conservative Lt. Gov. Dan Forest wants North Carolina to have the highest-paid teachers in the country, and thinks wireless broadband Internet should be in a every school.

The Greensboro News-Record reports Thursday that Forest called for the ambitious goals at a small meeting of conservatives in Greensboro on Wednesday.

Raising teacher salaries wouldn’t require a tax increase, he said.

“I think there’s plenty of money in government,” he said. “We’ll figure out a way to do it.”

The newspaper quoted Forest as saying a project to bring high-speed computers to schools could happen by 2016, but raising teacher salaries could take a decade or longer.

North Carolina average teacher pay is currently ranked 46th in the country.

Elon Poll suggests that Hagan is vulnerable, but opposition weak

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is not in a particularly strong position as she faces re-election, but that is also true for her potential opponents, according to a new poll.

Hagan has an approval rating of 38 percent and a disapproval rating of 35 percent, with 26 percent not sure, according to a new Elon University Poll.

But then two-thirds of North Carolina voters have never heard of House Speaker Thom Tillis, the best known of her Republican opponents.

Of those who did recognize Tlllis' name, 22 percent had a favorable opinion, 34 percent an unfavorable opinion, and 43 percent don't know. Tillis will obviously have to introduce himself to most voters.

State Senate leader Phil Berger is about in the same boat, with 64 percent not knowing who he is.

Berger, who is weighing to run, has a favorable rating among 20 percent, an unfavorable rating among 29 percent, with 49 percent not knowing.

The survey of 701 registered voters was conducted Sept. 13-16 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent.

Candidate emerges to replace Foushee in House

A candidate has announced his interest in replacing Democrat Valerie Foushee in the state House: Drew Nelson, a lawyer who represents indigent clients in appellate court.

Earlier this month,first-term legislator Foushee was named to replace veteran lawmaker Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, who retired in August. Foushee’s House seat is now open and her replacement will be chosen by a committee of the Democratic Party.

The District 50 seat represents Durham and Orange counties.

Nelson is a North Carolina native who received his law degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and obtained a master’s degree from Duke. He is married to a doctor, and the family has lived in Orange and Durham counties for 16 years, according to his campaign website.

He’s a partner at Willis Johnson & Nelson in Raleigh. He says his political experience includes working on environmental issues and serving on former Rep. Joe Hackney’s staff.

Nelson, in a news release issued Thursday, said Republican “extreme policy changes” in education prompted him to seek the office.

“As the son of a North Carolina public school teacher and an elementary school principal, and as the parent of a child soon to be enrolled in public school, education is a critical issue driving my candidacy,” Nelson said.

Elon Poll: McCrory decline is continuing

Another poll, and more declining ratings for Gov. Pat McCrory.

The Elon University Poll found the governor's approval ratings had dropped to 36 percent -- down from 46 percent in April when Elon last surveyed North Carolinians. The poll found that McCrory's steepest declines came from Democrats, but that he has also lost support among independents and Republicans as well.

The new poll shows McCrory with 36 percent approving his performance with 45 percent disapproving and 17 percent not sure.

That compares with President Barack Obama, who had a 38 percent approval rating in the state, with a disapproval rating of 50 percent with 9 percent not sure.

Only 37 percent approve of the president's handling of Syria, while 46 percent opposing it.

As for the General Assembly, 32 percent approve of the job they are doing, with 48 percent disapproving.

On the Moral Monday protests, 48 percent had a favorable opinion, while 31 percent had an unfavorable opinion and 19 percent said they didn't know.

Only 31 percent of North Carolina voters said the state was on the right track, with 58 percent believing it was on the wrong track. Asked which party they blamed for North Carolina being on the wrong track, 19 percent said the Democrats, 49 percent said the Republicans, and 27 percent said neither.

The survey of 701 registered voters was conducted Sept. 13-16 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent.

Weak NC Democratic Party could Hagan chances, The Hill says

A report The Hill, a Capitol Hill, is reporting that "weak state parties in the South risk hurting Democrats’ chances of holding — or gaining — critical Senate seats in 2014.'

The article by the Cameron Joseph says that struggles in Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina "could force national Democrats, and the candidates themselves, to step in with big-dollar investments to build get-out-the-vote programs that are often left to the party’s state-level operations.''

“There’s a lot of drama in all of those places,” said one national Democratic strategist. “That means a lot more responsibility for coordinated campaigns in those states and really elevates the importance of field programs, things that are traditionally done by those state parties.”

All three states have endured turmoil at the top of their party structures, as scandals and power struggles have left efforts to build voter lists and recruit down-ballot candidates untended, says the Hill article.

The consequences could be significant.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) face tough reelection fights, and Democrats are excited about the prospects of former nonprofit CEO Michelle Nunn (D) in Georgia.

But those candidates face increased jeopardy if the state leaders tasked with fixing their parties fail.

“They have to be able to immediately restore confidence in the state parties,” Southern Democratic strategist Tharon Johnson said of a trio of new party chairmen.

“You have to show people you’re competent in those states. They have to get it together organizationally and financially and have a plan. … It’s places like Georgia and Louisiana where we have more work to do.”

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Democrats remember pre Holding good ol' days

Former Congressman Brad Miller will be honored Saturday night by the Wake Democratic Men's Club as a "Democratic Hero.''

Miller will be honored at a dinner at the North Raleigh/Midtown Hotel at 6 pm. He was a mainstay in local Democratic politics having served 10 years in Congress and several terms in the state legislature. Miller is also a former Wake County Democratic chairman.

Miller decided not to run for reelection last November after the Republicans drew unfavorable lines for 13th district. In June, Miller joined the New York law firm of Grais & Ellsworth.

Hagan has Capitol Hill fund raiser today

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan will hold a Capitol Hill fund raiser today that will be hosted by DTCC PAC, which is a financial services company providing clearing and settlement services to the financial markets. It stands for The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation.

The event, hosted by the company's chief lobbyist, Ali Wolpert, will be held at Bistro Bis, a Capitol Hill French restaurant at lunch time. Hagan, as a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee that has jurisdiction over issues facing the financial services industry.

Hagan is facing a competitive re-election campaign next year.

Hat Tip to the Sunlight Foundation.

Morning Memo: McCrory defends DHHS, eyes S.C. business

McCRORY DEFENDS WOS: Gov. Pat McCrory has full confidence in Dr. Aldona Wos, the woman he chose to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, even while making a point to say he can not micromanage their hiring decisions. Democratic legislators are calling for a state audit of the department and an investigation into its hiring practices after several media reports over high-paying jobs going to former members of the governor's campaign staff, donors and an employee of Wos' husband. Read the story here.

DON'T FORGET: Inaugural Pints & Politics event today:The N.C. FreeEnterprise Foundation, a business-backed political research firm, is putting a little fun into the state capital’s favorite sport: politics. The inaugural Pints & Politics event will include discussion from Chris Sinclair, a Republican strategist at Cornerstone Solutions, and Tom Jensen, the head pollster at Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, about election outcome predictions. Free event but RSVP requested or 919-614-0520. Details: 5:30 p.m. Sept. 19, Natty Greene’s Brewing, 505 W. Jones St., Raleigh

*** Welcome to Dome's Morning Memo.

DHHS makes clear who fired former head of oral health program

Who Fired Dr. King?

The state Department of Health and Human Services wants to make clear who fired Dr. Rebecca King, former head of the state's oral health program.

It was Danny Staley, acting director of the Division of Public Health, who penned the letter of dismissal. Spokesman Ricky Diaz took issue with a Wednesday article that said DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos fired King.

Mailer thanks Hagan for supporting repeal of Obamacare provision

A national health care association is sending mailers to thousands of North Carolina residents touting Sen. Kay Hagan's support for a measure to repeal a provision in the federal health care law.

The mailer doesn't identify Hagan as a Democrat and at least one critic suggests it is trying to blur her support for the controversial legislation known as Obamacare.

Hagan's campaign says it didn't send the mailer and emphasized that the senator is looking to improve provisions of the Affordable Care Act that concern her.

The group behind the mailer -- as the disclaimer states -- is the Healthcare Leadership Council, an association of companies from various sectors of the health care industry, such as insurers, pharmaceutical companies and medical providers. The group is a prominent lobbying force on Capitol Hill.

Civitas president apologizes for post blasting McCrory administration

The president of the Civitas Institute is apologizing for a blog post he wrote last week and quickly deleted that accused Gov. Pat McCrory and his chief of staff of cronyism.

Francis De Luca posted his mea culpa Tuesday. "In trying to be vigilant against cronyism or even the appearance of cronyism— whether from the left or the right, liberals or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans — I made a mistake," he wrote, saying he skewed some facts in the original piece. "In talking about the event the Governor attended, I painted with too broad a brush by implying that an elected official’s appearance at an event involving organizations that lobby for state funds is tantamount to cronyism."

Duncan begins exploratory effort for primary challenge to Ellmers

Jim Duncan, the chairman of the Chatham County Republican Party, said Wednesday that he is beginning an exploratory effort to possibly challenge 2nd District Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers next year.

Duncan, a retired computer industry leasing executive, didn't offer any direct criticism of Ellmers, but he said there was "a craving for leadership.''

He said he would send the next month talking to people across the district about a possible congressional bid before deciding to run.

"Many of representatives are building a career and look upon it as changing their station in life,'' Duncan said. "That as a citizen is a concern. I think we got it backwards. I wouldn't speak to any specifics concerning Renee. But I have a concern about how our representatives across the board are doing at this point.''

Brunstetter might run for U.S. Senate

State Sen. Pete Brunstetter is considering joining the Republican fray to win his party’s nomination to run Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan next year.

Brunstetter told The Associated Press that Senate leader Phil Berger – who is also considering running – asked him to think about it.

Brunstetter, 57, said he wouldn’t compete against Berger. A spokesman for Berger said the Senate leader hadn’t decided yet, but if he doesn’t run he will be “supportive” of Brunstetter.

There are four declared candidates in the GOP primary, including House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Brunstetter is a four-term senator from Winston-Salem, who works as a corporate attorney.