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The "influencers"

Campaigns & Elections, a trade magazine for politicos, named the top "political influencers" in its latest edition. Ten from each state made it to the list.

Five Republicans and five Democrats, a mix of North Carolina lobbyists and campaign consultants, got the nod.

The five Republicans: John Davis of John Davis Consulting; Tom Fetzer, lobbyist and former Raleigh mayor and state GOP chairman; lobbyist Dana Simpson; political consultant Carter Wrenn; and political consultant Chris Sinclair. Davis is actually unaffiliated.

The five Democrats: Political consultant Brad Crone; consultant Mike Davis; strategist Scott Falmlen, a former state Democratic Party executive director; lobbyist Bruce Thompson; and Andrew Whalen, consultant for the Blue Dog Coalition and a former state Democratic Party executive director.

Lobbyist resigns seat on UNC-TV board

Lobbyist Bruce Thompson resigned his seat on the UNC-TV board of directors today.

Thompson was caught in the controversy surrounding UNC-TV's story critical of Alcoa. Thompson lobbies for Stanly County, which is fighting Alcoa's request to renew its long-term license to produce electricity using dams on the Yadkin River. Thompson helped former UNC-TV correspondent Eszter Vajda with her Alcoa report.

"I don't want to be a distraction," he said.

His e-mail address appears on some of the mostly-redacted documents the station released last month in response to public records requests.  Vajda said in an interview last month that he helped with the story. Vajda's report was highly critical of Alcoa, its environmental practices, and its efforts to renew a long-term federal license to produce electricity using dams on the Yadkin River.

Thompson said he did nothing more for Vajda than he would have done for any other reporter by giving her information on the issue. He said he did not try to meddle into UNC-TV management decisions.

Thompson said he has asked the station to release un-redacted versions of his e-mail because it will show that he did nothing wrong.

"I am very comfortable with everything that I did," Thompson said. "I did nothing to take advantage of my seat as a board member. I'm very careful in all my dealings.  I'm disappointed that someone would think otherwise."

Perdue headlining Deeds fundraiser

Gov. Beverly Perdue is scheduled to speak at a fundraiser for Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic nominee for governor in the Old Dominion, on Oct. 1.

The event is at the Capital City Club has a suggested minimum contribution of $500 and an A-list of hosts that includes former Gov. Jim Hunt, Democratic organizer and fundraiser Bruce Thompson, uberfundraiser Peter Reichard and Ruffin Poole, lawyer and former aide to Gov. Mike Easley. Poole most recently made the news when a federal grand jury investigating issues surrounding Easley asked for volumes of communication between the Department of Motor Vehicles and a handful of then-Easley aides, including Poole.

Deeds had been trailing behind the Republican nominee, former Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell. But McDonnell has been on defense since a recent Washington Post report by N&O alum Amy Gardner highlighted his graduate school thesis while at CBN (now Regent) University, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson. The thesis, among other arguments, characterized working women and feminists as "detrimental to the family." The thesis was written in 1989, but the Post chronicled how McDonnell has pursued 10 of the policy goals articulated in the paper during his 14-year public career. 

The Cheap Seats

My, what a difference an election cycle can make.

The North Carolina delegation was treated to prime real estate on the convention floor at the 2004 party shindig in Boston.

John Edwards was the VP candidate then, which guaranteed Tar Heel Dems seats close to the stage and within easy range of television cameras.

This year, to get those kinds of close-up views of the stage, delegates would need to break out the binoculars. They are sitting way, way in back.

"There are advantages to being in the back," said delegate R. Bruce Thompson II. "We have plenty of room to spread out."

Women's Day

Kay Hagan and Beverly Perdue didn’t make it out to Denver, but their campaigns were chatted up at a fundraiser for EMILY’s List, a group that supports Democratic women candidates.

R. Bruce Thompson II a delegate from Raleigh, paid so much to attend the Tuesday fundraiser that he didn’t want give the figure because his wife didn't know how much it cost him.

(Hint to Mrs. Thompson: It was at a 'sponsorship' level, and more than $50.)

Hagan, who is running for U.S. Senate, and Perdue, who is running for governor, is on the group’s list of “rising stars.”

“It’s kind of nice to be from North Carolina when they’re talking about all these North Carolinians,” said Thompson, who is attending his first convention as a delegate.

More after the jump.

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Denver delegate report

R. Bruce Thompson II said he's behind presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama all the way.

But when candidate names go into nomination later this week, Thompson plans to vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“It’s a tribute. It’s a symbolic vote. I was sent here on behalf of folks who voted for her in North Carolina. I feel an obligation to do that," said Thompson, a Raleigh lawyer and lobbyist.

Clinton is meeting with her delegates Wednesday, and Thompson says his plans could change depending on what she tells them.

He was an early Clinton supporter, putting him at odds with a lot of his friends who were then backing John Edwards.

Thompson helped Clinton raise money and was with the Clintons when they campaigned in North Carolina. Clinton’s campaign made a deep impression on his 8-year-old daughter Grace Battle, who got to meet the senator from New York.

Even with that history, Thompson says he’s ready to work for Obama.

Thompson said he invited Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter to talk to North Carolina delegates at breakfast this morning, and Halter “gave a rousing speech on how we need to unite behind Barack Obama.”

Thompson, 41, is attending his first convention as a delegate. The buzz is that Sen. Ted Kennedy, who recently was diagnosed with a brain tumor, may speak at the convention tonight.

House to consider Yadkin dams study

The House will consider studying the future of Yadkin River dams today.

A bill sponsored by Concord Republican Rep. Fletcher Hartsell would direct the state Environmental Review Commission to look into the renewal of a 50-year federal license on a hydroelectric power projects in Stanly County.

The dams were first licensed in the 1950s to allow Alcoa Inc. to generate power for a nearby aluminum plant. With the plant no longer in operation, the multinational company has been reselling the power on the open market.

"There's no benefit to the people of North Carolina," argued Bruce Thompson, a lobbyist working for the bill's passage. He estimated the company makes $45 million a year from reselling the power.

A provision to allow the state to study taking over the dams for a local power authority was inserted into the budget, then taken out.

The bill does not mention a takeover, instead directing the Environmental Review Commission to consider the "socioeconomic impacts" of the aluminum plant closure, the need for a "clean future water supply" and other water uses.

A spokesman for Alcoa said they do not oppose the study bill because it makes no mention of a takeover. 

"We recognize the growing importance of water issues in North Carolina, and welcome the opportunity to work with the state to protect its water interests along the Yadkin River," said Gene Ellis in a statement.

The commission's report would be turned into the legislature by Feb. 1.

On the guest list at Wake Tech

The guest list at the Hillary Clinton event at Wake Tech includes a few notables.

State Sen. Vern Malone, Reps. Tricia Cotham and Ronnie Sutton, former Ambassador Jeanette Hyde, Raleigh City Councilwoman Mary Ann Baldwin and Wake County Commissioner Lindy Brown.

Also on the list: Raleigh attorneys Bruce Thompson and Michael Petty, Raleigh public relations executive Joyce Fitzpatrick and former N.C. Industrial Commission chairman Buck Lattimore.

The most interesting name: Muriel Offerman.

Offerman is a still offically undecided superdelegate to the Democratic Convention. As we reported last week, Clinton personally called Offerman's work phone.

Maybe she's not so undecided after all...

Update: Dome also spotted Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams among the honored guests.

The lobbyists' job

Say What?
"Our goal as lobbyist was certainly not to dictate what was in the bill."
— Bruce Thompson, a lobbyist for Fibrowatt, which stands to gain millions of dollars from a provision in a renewable energy bill requiring utilities sell electricity produced from poultry waste.
The company spent $85,000 this year lobbying the General Assembly. Quoted in the Charlotte Observer on Dec. 18, 2007.

Clinton event cancelled

Bill Clinton will not be coming to Raleigh.

The former president is stuck on the tarmac of a New Jersey airport because of winter weather.

"They were saying the earliest he could take off is 6 p.m. and the airport wasn't even making any guarantees about that," said Bruce Thompson, a Raleigh attorney who was helping coordinate the event.

He said that the scheduled visit has already raised about $250,000, making it the largest fundraising event for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Southeast during this campaign.

"I'm thrilled by those numbers," he said. "They exceed everybody's expectations."

The event has been rescheduled for Monday, Dec. 17, at 7:30 p.m., also at the Brier Creek Country Club. 

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