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Gov. Perdue is the hostess-in-chief, state Democratic chairman on the sidelines

Gov. Bev Perdue will play hostess in chief this week with the world look at North Carolina amid the Democratic convention. Her tentative schedule four national cable news interviews starting with CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday live from Charlotte at 9 a.m. 

On Monday, after rehearsing for her opening remarks on the convention's first day, Perdue is tentatively scheduled to appear on MSNBC for separate interviews with Andrea Mitchell and Chris Matthews. And later in the week she will appear on MSNBC again for an interview with Chuck Todd.

But one major N.C. Democratic face you won't see on TV: state party Chairman David Parker, officials said. (The less he's seen the better, some Democrats privately say.) 

Morning Roundup: A North Carolina political primer ahead of the DNC

North Carolina Democrats enter the national convention in their home state with much to prove. More than anything, the state’s partisan faithful must demonstrate that President Barack Obama’s 2008 victory in this traditionally Republican state was not a fluke – that North Carolina deserves to host the Democratic convention and merits a spot among the more traditional campaign battleground states like Florida and Ohio. Read the full story here.

More politics from the News & Observer and Charlotte Observer below:

--A complete North Carolina political primer from one of the experts, UNC Journalism Prof and former N&O writer Ferrel Guillory: "Once viewed as falling below the norm in many national comparisons, North Carolina’s mixture of civic and economic strengths and weaknesses now are more in keeping with mainstream America. The state has become less a lagging and more a leading indicator of national issues and trends."

New governor gets to dole out the salary cash to department heads

Republican legislative leaders are in tune with the concerns of Democrat Gene Conti, who complained this week that he is underpaid as the state’s transportation secretary.

That’s why they amended the state budget this year to give North Carolina’s next governor new power to set salaries for non-elected state department heads.

“These agencies have gotten huge in terms of budget and responsibility,” said state Sen. Richard Stevens of Cary, one of the Senate’s chief budget-writers.

Democrats urge women to seek bigger role in 2012 election

A Democratic panel of women in Raleigh blasted Republicans gathered in Florida for "taking our country back in time."

Those words from state Rep. Deborah Ross defined an event Tuesday in which Democratic women said Republicans were pointed in the wrong direction on everything from healthcare to pay equity.

Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell, elected in 2010 as the first woman Democrat from her state, urged the women in the crowd to get active this year. "The 2008 election was historic," she said. "But the 2012 election is imperative."

Democratic puppet attacks on McCrory and Romney

The Democrats are using puppets again to go after GOP gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory and presidential candidate Mitt Romney for not releasing tax returns for past years.

Independents up, Democrats down in registration since 08

Since the last presidential election, the number of registered independents in North Carolina has grown, but there has been a sharp drop off in the number of registered Democrats.

A study by the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way shows greater growth of independent voters in North Carolina than any other battleground state.

The number of independent or unaffiliated voters grew by 207,173 voters or 14.4 percent since 2008, reports POLITICO. In Mecklenburg County the number of unaffiliated voters rose 11 percent and in Wake County by 17 percent since the last presidential election.

The number of Democratic voters has dropped by 116,662 or 4.1 percent, while the number of Republican voters has dropped by 13,017 or 0.7 percent. President Barack Obama carried the state by about 14,000 votes in 2008.

Charlotte ranks No. 5 in presidential advertising

Charlotte is ranked No. 5 in the media markets nationwide seeing the most presidential campaign advertising this week. (See full list below.)

The NBC rankings show that Romney and Republican groups are dominating the airwaves with the candidate's campaign, a GOP super PAC, the Republican National Committee and Americans for Prosperity all hitting President Barack Obama in the city where he will accept the nomination.

It also shows the buy is very small and insignificant. North Carolina markets have shuffled in and out of the top 10 in presidential advertising for months but this seemingly concerted GOP concentration on Charlotte is revealing.

Updated: Bowles once praised Paul Ryan, but called Medicare changes 'pretty radical'

UPDATED: A video clip of Erskine Bowles, the co-chairman of President Obama's deficit commission, singing the praises of fellow number cruncher Paul Ryan is making the rounds on the Internet -- but it doesn't accurately represent his entire speech.

In fact, the video maker cut out the part of the speech where Bowles calls the Wisconsin congressman's 2011 plan for Medicare "pretty radical." (See below for a more complete audio.)

Republicans rather focus on these quotes in the clip: "I'm telling you, this guy is amazing," Bowles says of Ryan. "I always thought I was OK with arithmetic, this guy can run circles around me."

"The budget he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan," he continued. "It is a sensible, straightforward, honest, serious budget ..."

Perdue, Democrats pick different people to replace Rep. Wainwright

From AP: A former New Bern city leader is the replacement for a longtime North Carolina state House Democrat who died last month, but she won't be on the ballot to seek an additional two-year term.

Gov. Bev Perdue this week appointed former New Bern alderman Barbara Lee to complete the term of the late Rep. William Wainwright through the end of the year. But the local Democrats who chose Lee last week decided to pick Lenoir County Commissioner George Graham over Lee as the party's nominee for the 12th District seat in November.

Wainwright had been the nominee. Graham has served on the county commission for 30 years. He'll take on Republican Jim Dancy in a strong Democratic district. The Legislature has no floor sessions scheduled for the rest of 2012.

Republicans keeping down ballot races close, poll shows

The often-overlooked races for the state's top posts are surprisingly close this campaign season with Republican challengers keeping it close against Democratic incumbents, according to a new poll.

In the lieutenant governor's race, Republican Dan Forest and Democrat Linda Coleman are essentially tied, a Public Policy Polling sruvey shows, with Forest holding a one-point advantage (38 to 37 percent) within the margin of error.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, a Democratic incumbent who won  by 14 points in 2008, leads Republican challenger Ed Goodwin, a first-time statewide candidate by just six points, 43 percent to 37 percent. Democratic Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin leads Republican rival Mike Causey by four points. Goodwin won in 2008 by seven percentage points.

"The Republican strength at the top of the ticket looks to be making the other statewide offices more competitive than usual this year as well," writes pollster Tom Jensen with PPP, a Democratic firm.

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