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Power in General Assembly shifts to western NC

Capstrat has created a series of maps to show the westward shift of power in the General Assembly. They illustrate the dramatic change in geographic distribution of legislative leadership and experience over the last four years.

"With the executive and legislative branches now solidly in Republican hands, geography could play a key role in battle lines over policy and budget," the group said in a blog post. The question for anyone with interests in the General Assembly – do you have support in these key geographic areas?"

The four areas of most significant change: Charlotte and points west; northeastern North Carolina; southeastern North Carolina and the border counties; central North Carolina.

GOP legislators lead in social media

The state's Republican legislators lead Democrats in their use of Facebook and Twitter, according to the Raleigh public relations and lobbying firm Capstrat.

In a study of legislators' tweeting and posting habits, Capstrat found Republicans more connected than Democrats, and women more than men.

Sen. Andrew Brock, a Republican from Mocksville, leads his chamber in Facebook friends, and Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger of Eden has the most Twitter followers.

Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat, has the most Facebook friends in the House, and Minority Leader Paul "Skip" Stam of Apex has the most Twitter followers.

Dome took its own look at party Twitter habits, and it appears state Republicans have more to tweet about.

The state GOP Twitter page had at more than a half dozen tweets today. State Democrats have not added a new message since August 3.

Cope to Eudy: I know where you live

The State Employees Association of North Carolina will be picketing outside the Raleigh home of uber-PR executive Ken Eudy Tuesday when he holds a fundraiser for the Democratic Senate caucus.

Dana Cope, the executive director of the public employee union, has called for the cancellation of what he calls a “pay-to-play” fundraiser, because Eudy's Raleigh public relations firm, Capstrat, received a $375,000 contract from the N.C. State Port Authority in April, reports Rob Christensen.

Cope notes that Capstrat has been the recipient of a number of state contracts, arguing that it is “hypocritical” for politicians to take money from state contractors while at the same time “pounding their chests talking about the ethics bill and how they've cleaned up government.”

Eudy, for his part, says SEANC's campaign against the fundraiser is “pathetic and defamatory” and is a cover for the poor job the organization does in providing pay and benefits for state workers.

The battle between Cope and Eudy may also be personal.  Eudy's firm has represented Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, with which Cope and SEANC have repeatedly clashed.

As SEANC prepares to tee-off, Eudy swings back

The head of the State Employees Association of N.C. is planning a news conference Thursday to attack a fundraiser for Senate Democrats hosted by Capstrat co-owner Ken Eudy as an example of "pay to play."

Eudy, who knows a thing or two about communication, fired a blast himself.

"It's pathetic and defamatory," Eudy said of allegations by SEANC head Dana Cope that a fundraiser at Eudy's home is connected to a $375,000 contract his agency won in April with the N.C. State Ports Authority. "I don't blame SEANC leaders for trying to change the subject. They deserve 'As' for getting in the newspaper and on TV. They deserve 'Fs' for getting better pay, benefits and working conditions for state employees."

Dome previously told you about the fundraiser, scheduled for next week at the home of Eudy and his wife. Senate leader Marc Basnight, Majority Leader Martin Nesbitt, Raleigh Sens. Josh Stein and Dan Blue are billed to attend along with former Gov. Jim Hunt.

A database of state contracts shows that Capstrat has been awarded three, including a $13.5 million gig running a campaign to curb tobacco use among teens.

"What I would hope is there wouldn't be this McCarthy-esque suggestion and innuendo that because I personally have made a contribution to some elected official who is 10 steps away from a decision on a state contract that something smells bad," Eudy said.

Cope's news release Wednesday mentioned that the fundraiser would not have been permitted under a provision cut from an ethics bill during the last legislative session. The provision would have placed fundraising restrictions on contractors with state business.

Eudy said he would have no problem with such a provision becoming law.

UPDATE: Nesbitt said he sees no problem with the fundraiser.

"We can't get out here and start telling people they can't participate in the political process," he said. "What the Supreme Court has said is that is free speech. You can't deny someone the right to participate in politics simply because they do business with the state."

PR firm CEO to host fundraiser for Senate Dems

The chief executive of public relations and consulting firm Capstrat is throwing a fundraiser for Democratic senators.

Ken Eudy,  CEO of the Raleigh-based firm, will host the fundraiser at his home in Raleigh, Ben Niolet reports.

The headline guests for the Aug. 24 event are Senate Leader Marc Basnight, Majority Leader Sen. Martin Nesbitt and former Gov. Jim Hunt. Wake County Sens. Dan Blue and Josh Stein are also mentioned on the invitation.

Platinum level sponsors are asked for a $4,000 contribution. Sponsors, including $500 "bronze" givers will be recognized at the event. Tickets are $125.

A copy of the invitation has been making the rounds, especially in light of the fact that Capstrat just got a $375,000 per year contract to handle PR and business development for the N.C. Ports Authority.

The authority is still reeling from a dead-in-the-water proposal to build a $3 billion deep water port.

Krugman criticizes Blue Cross of N.C.

Paul Krugman is taking Blue Cross to task.

The liberal New York Times columnist harshly criticized Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina over reports it plans to run a series of ads attacking health care reform.

According to reports in the Washington Post and the N&O, the ads show Americans being prevented from choosing their doctor and forced to wait months by government bureaucrats, though Krugman says many HMO's already do that.

"“We can do a lot better than a government-run health care system,” says a voice-over in one of the ads. To which the obvious response is, if that’s true, why don’t you? Why deny Americans the chance to reject government insurance if it’s really that bad?

Krugman argues that none of the plans currently being discussed would force people into a government-run health care plan.

The ads were prepared by Capstrat, a Raleigh public relations firm.

Crowder wrote report on Perdue plans

Courtney CrowderCourtney Crowder has already done his homework.

As Gov.-elect Beverly Perdue's legislative director, Crowder will take a lead role in implementing her public policy decisions and keeping her campaign promises.

Luckily for him, he just co-authored a report on that very subject.

Crowder is one of five analysts and lobbyists on the government relations team at Capstrat, a Raleigh public relations firm, who recently went over Perdue's platform for a report called "Now What?"

The report says that Perdue will focus on early childhood education, free tuition for community colleges, mental health reform, increased health insurance coverage, reforming the N.C. Department of Transportation, championing "green collar jobs" and reducing small business taxes, among other things.

It also notes that Perdue said she will work with other governors to reduce corporate incentives, but says she will likely continue expanding them in the short term. It notes the "budget constraints" and the "shrinking financial pie" but leaves open how they will be resolved.

One prediction from the report may turn out to be a bit optimistic.

"Announcements of who will be filling (Cabinet) posts are expected by the end of the year," it says.

Perdue appoints Willis, Crowder

Beverly Perdue named her legislative lobbyist and director today.

As expected since earlier this month, the governor-elect announced that she would appoint Andy Willis as her senior advisor for governmental affairs. She also named Courtney Crowder as legislative director.

Willis is currently vice president for government relations for the University of North Carolina system and a former fiscal analyst for the state Senate. He has a master's degree in public administration from UNC-Chapel Hill and a bachelor's in political science from N.C. State.

Crowder currently works as a lobbyist for Capstrat and previously worked at the N.C. Department of Insurance and for U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge. He has a master's degree from Duke University and a bachelor's degrees in English literature and French from N.C. Central University.

"Andy and Courtney will bring to our team a wealth of experience and proven ability to get things done," Perdue said in a statement. "They'll play key roles in making our vision to get North Carolina back on track a reality."

Digging for change

Business interests will have slightly less representation in the state legislature as a result of the recent election.

A recent analysis of the results of the election by Capstrat found that legislators who are business men or women will decline from 51 in the past session to 45 in the coming session.

Capstrat said that retirees still make up the largest group in the legislature, with 47 of the 170 members in the House and Senate.

Capstrat also said in its report that the economy, not promises made on the campaign trail, will determine what happens in Raleigh next year.

Rather than enacting sweeping changes, our government will be digging for change under the proverbial cushions of the living room sofa. It will be hard to focus on progress when the nagging responsibility of filling budget holes takes grip in the new year.

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