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In new Democratic polling, some state lawmakers looking vulnerable

The upheaval from the legislative session continues to reverberate as lawmakers look at what it did for their prospects in 2014. Voters are wavering, Republicans are openly discussing a course-correction next year and the N.C. Democratic Party is trying to capitalize. And now, it's showing in legislative district polls.

Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm based in Raleigh, recently looked at eight state Senate districts held by Republicans, finding two leaning Democrat and six more in the toss-up category. PPP pollster Tom Jensen writes that "the political landscape has shifted in such a way that Democrats have a lot more opportunities to eat into the Republican majority next year than could have ever been imagined even six months ago."


People for the American Way objects to tax increase for students' voting

People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group, opposes a bill that would erect financial hurdles to families of college students when the kids vote in the cities and towns where they attend school.

Senate bill 667 would prevent parents from claiming their children as tax exemptions if their children are registered to vote at an address other than their parents' address. Voting addresses would have to match vehicle registration addresses.

In a letter to bill sponsors, Sens. Bill Cook, Norman Sanderson, and Ronald Rabin, PFAW said the bill "puts the rights of North Carolinians under attack."

"Youth and student voters who move frequently already have to navigate a confusing patchwork of voting laws. Those choosing to reregister while living and learning at institutions of higher education should not face a tax penalty for participating in our democracy, nor should their parents."

Bill would kill deduction for parents whose kids vote at college

Several Republican senators have introduced a bill that would bar parents from claiming a tax deduction for a dependent child who registers to vote where he or she attends college.

“We are simply equalizing the playing field for all voters in our state,” said Senators Bill Cook of Chocowinity, Ronald Rabin of Spring Lake, and Norman Sanderson of Havelock, the bill's sponsor said in a statement.

Senate Democratic leader Martin Nesbitt of Asheville has criticized the measure. “Apparently the Republicans are turning to use the tax code to keep young people from voting at their poll of choice,” Nesbitt said.

Other Democrat's described it as a “poll tax,” because people would have to pay more taxes, based on where their children cast their ballots.

Stan White concedes state Senate race to Bill Cook

Republican Rep. Bill Cook can finally call himself senator-elect without looking over his shoulder.

After two rounds of recounts and nearly a month removed from Election Day, Democratic state Sen. Stan White, the incumbent in the 1st District, conceded his bid for re-election to Cook on Monday.

"Mr. Cook has won, and I wish him the best of luck and certainly hope he represents this huge district well," White said by phone.

Cook won by 21 votes. 87,449 ballots were cast.

Cook claims 18-vote victory in state Senate race after recount

Republican Bill Cook has claimed victory in the race to represent District 1 in the state Senate after a recount gave him an 18 vote lead over incumbent Democrat Stan White.

According to results released by the state Board of Elections, 43,733 votes were cast for Cook and 43,715 for White. The race was the closest in the state this election cycle.

"The votes have been counted and recounted," Cook said. "I have won again.  I see no point in my opponent attempting to continue this race and I call on him to concede the contest."

Cook claims victory, asks for White to concede without recount

Republican Bill Cook is claiming victory over Democrat Stan White in the race to represenate state Senate District 1.

White had a narrow lead after unofficial results were released on Election Day, but after county election boards counted provisional ballots on Friday, Cook edged ahead by 32 votes.

That's enough for Cook to take a victory lap and call for an end to the race.

"The voters have spoken, and every vote has been counted," Cook said. "I call on my opponent to concede the race and save the cash-strapped counties the expense of a cumbersome recount. It serves no purpose to keep the voters in limbo about their new representation in the Senate."

White is well within the margin required for a candidate to request a recount, and he may do so yet.

Budget debate gets hostile

As the budget debate closed in on 11 p.m, House members started openly insulting and mocking one another in ways that resemble how people talk about their enemies behind their backs.

At one point, Rep. Bill Faison, an Orange County Democrat who ran for governor criticized the Republican budget, blaming it for lost jobs and the deterioration of the state's unemployment rankings.

Faison, who proposed a sales tax increase during his run for the Democratic nomination for governor, said that was the remedy to the state's unemployment problem. "Nobody in this body is opposed to raising a little bit of tax," Faison said. Republicans increased fees last year, which Faison said are taxes with another name.

Rep. Nelson Dollar asked Faison if a tax increase was a key element in his gubernatorial campaign platform. Yes, said Faison.

"I wondered how that was working out for you," Dollar said.

Faison didn't win the primary, as everyone in the chamber knew. He came in third, with less than 6 percent of the vote. His retort: the Republicans were trying to repair budget damage that cost people their jobs. "Let's see how that works out for you in November," he said.

House Republicans eye seven Democratic seats

State Republicans are highlighting seven Democratic House seats they believe could go their way in the fall based on polling results published by two conservative-leaning polling outfits.

Democrats hold 68 seats and Republicans hold 52 seats in the state House. The House Republican caucus believes the polling data shows it has a chance at taking enough seats to win a majority.

The polls were conducted over the last few months for the conservative Civitas Institute and by the Carolina Strategy Group, a Raleigh firm whose principals lean Republican. The polls in question were generally surveys of registered voters in a district, which doesn't necessarily measure opinion of the people who will actually vote in a local legislative race.

But the analysis is instructive as to which races Republicans are targeting for the House. Notably, the list includes the seat now held by Democratic Majority Leader Hugh Holliman, a Lexington Democrat. Holliman faces his 2008 challenger, Rayne Brown.

A look at the other races after the jump.

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