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Will Democratic gubernatorial candidates in cuffs become the new litmus test?

James Protzman, the founder of the blog BlueNC and a Democratic candidate for governor in 2016, plans to get arrested Monday night as part of the “Moral Monday'' protests at the Legislative Building.

“Everyone comes to Moral Monday with a unique set of concerns and demands,' Protzman said in a statement. “Mine are very specific. Republicans in North Carolina have rigged our elections through extreme gerrymandering, to the point that our government cannot be considered legitimate. To restore our democracy, lawmakers must redraw our legislative districts in time for the 2014 election cycle. Once we have new districts, members of the General Assembly must resign and stand for new elections.''

McCrory doing away with college athletics? No, just a spoof

A post on BlueNC, a liberal blog, sparked a confusing moment in Gov. Pat McCrory's press conference this morning.

James Protzman authored what he calls a "Blue Onion" post, a reference to the satirical, fake news sites The Onion, with a headline that read, "Breaking: McCrory to shut down all college athletics programs."

It's clearly a spoof -- but one TV reporter from an unknown outlet didn't get the joke. "Governor, could you please explain your position on doing away with athletics programs at UNC campuses?" the reporter asked McCrory.

"My position on doing away with ... I don't know what," McCrory said, clearly confused -- like the rest of the reporters and staff in the room.

New group blog promotes conservatives

A conservative group blog is hitting its stride.

Started in mid January, ConservativeNC aims to be for conservatives in the state what BlueNC has been for liberals.

It grew out of a Facebook group started to revive conservativism in the wake of the Democratic sweep in the fall elections. 

Jeff Sykes, 38, one of four co-founders, said he originally planned to start a group blog for conservatives in the Piedmont. A former reporter and editor of several small Rockingham County newspapers, he was inspired by Ed Cone and other Triad bloggers.

"The goal is to give conservatives in the state a place they can go and find information about their colleagues from across the state," he said. "It's also a place where we can debate the current and future health of the conservative movement in North Carolina."

The site has a dozen regular writers and several hundred registered users. Lately it has been one of several good online sources for information about the race for chair of the N.C. Republican Party

Quick Hits

* U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry editorializes on 2010 Census in Washington Times, says Democrats "politicized our nation's largest peacetime mobilization."

* BlueNC finds President Obama's shoutout to Attorney General Roy Cooper in the official White House transcript.

* The Independent begins the speculation on who might fill soon-to-be-Sen. Dan Blue's old seat in the House by looking at his competitors.

* Spokesman for the N.C. Republican Party disappointed that N&O editorial didn't prominently mention Gov. Mike Easley's party. (It's Democrat.)

Quick Hits

* U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, former N.C. GOP chairman Bill Cobey have endorsed Tom Fetzer for state chairman.

* Readers of The Washington Post's Fix blog name Under the Dome, BlueNC as the best political blogs in North Carolina.

* New data from South Now: 44 percent of North Carolinians are moderate, 37 percent conservative and 17 percent liberal.

* Due to budget cutbacks, Charlotte Observer reporter Lisa Zagaroli no longer works for the McClatchy D.C. bureau. Dome wishes her well. 

Shuler's 118-day non-campaign

Heath ShulerU.S. Rep. Heath Shuler's non-campaign lasted 118 days.

The Waynesville Democrat kicked off his non-run for the seat held by Republican Sen. Richard Burr in an interview with the Hendersonville Times-News on Nov. 13 and ended it with a brief statement yesterday.

At no point did he ever say he was actually in the race, but Shuler got some good coverage nonetheless.

A few highlights: Shuler was praised in an editorial, held a fundraiser with Bill Clinton that raised six figures, attended Gov. Beverly Perdue's inaugural ball, was polled twice against Burr, drew attention (and the ire of Democratic leaders) for criticizing the stimulus package, became a whip for the Blue Dog Coalition and became a target for liberals on BlueNC.

All in all, that's pretty good coverage for the second-newest member of the state's Congressional delegation. It beats the attention paid to Democratic Rep. Brad Miller during his 63-day non-campaign against Sen. Elizabeth Dole in 2007.

Previously: Why the "Sophomore Strivers" usually don't run. 

Reaction from the pundits

Reaction from the capitol pundits on the State of the State:

* Conservative columnist John Hood said he appreciated Gov. Beverly Perdue's "call for fiscal conservatism" and an end to "business as usual" at the legislature, but wonders if state lawmakers are ready to follow.

* Liberal columnist Chris Fitzsimon said that Perdue didn't say anything about raising taxes to "protect vital services" and predicted that "market fundamentalists" were gleefully anticipating devastating cuts to the state budget.

* Conservative advocate Francis De Luca said that he appreciated Perdue's creation of a Web site with information about how the state is spending stimulus money and her remark that the state will have to cut programs.

* Liberal blogger Greg Flynn said that he "read the speech twice" to find specifics, but he'll have to wait for the budget to see the "big cuts" on the spending side, instead of revenue reform to broaden the tax base. 

Quick Hits

* House committee says bill to limit texting while driving may be too broadly written. Would it forbid using an iPod or checking your calendar?

* No, U.S. Rep. Howard Coble was not at the meeting at Yalta. That's a joke photo put together by someone on Rep. Walter Jones' staff.

* Progressive bloggers are already starting to discuss what they should do about U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler and his potential Senate run.

* U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan, Reps. Jones and G.K. Butterfield urge Environmental Protection Agency to accept PCS Phosphate's plan to expand.

Quick Hits: Blog libel

* BlueNC regular Crowbar317 says the bill appears to be designed to remove protection from libel cases for anonymous bloggers and commenters.

* Greensboro News-Record columnist Doug Clark says it would be hard for bloggers to enforce its provisions on anonymous commenters on their own sites.

* WUNC radio reporter Laura Leslie wonders if Sen. Steve Goss is "carrying water" for other legislators, such as Sens. Julia Boseman or R.C. Soles, who have been targeted by blogs.

* Conservative Watauga Watch blog (sarcastically) takes aim at Goss for tackling "paramount public policy concern" of blogging during rough economic time.

* Conservative blogger Jeff Taylor argues that the bill is so broadly written that it could "criminalize virtually all text message traffic;" says N.C. blogs are tame.

N.C. blogger turns to novel-writing

James ProtzmanOne of the state's most prolific bloggers has gone old-school.

Liberal blogger James Protzman, one of the founders of the influential progressive group blog BlueNC, has written a novel called "Jesus Swept."

The book focuses on the boundary between religion and politics in American life, something that Chapel Hill resident has often written about in a more sharp-tongued manner on his blog.

In a press release, Protzman said the novel is a response to the growth of cultural power among religious conservatives and a "challenge to those who believe their ideas about what is right and good are morally superior."

Drawing on the works of goofball rabble-rousers Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Robbins, the novel centers on a 19-year-old who becomes "a new Jesus" after finding a silver bracelet at Myrtle Beach.

It is published through Kitsune Books of Florida and available at Protzman says he is at work at a second novel, to be called "Plaid."

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