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Young candidate says he'll challenge Rep. Stevens next year

Rep. Sarah Stevens, one of the key Republicans in the state House, will apparently have at least one challenger in the GOP primary next year.

George Wass, 19, says he will run against the three-term incumbent for the seat that covers Wilkes and Surry counties, according to The Mount Airy News. He will be 21 by the November election.

The paper reports that Wass is a recent graduate of the Surry Early College High School of Design. He said he’ll need all the time he can get to mount a successful campaign against the incumbent lawyer.

Stevens chairs or co-chairs several judiciary committees in the legislature, and has been closely allied with the GOP leadership in the House. She ran unopposed in 2012.

Lawmakers get update on far-reaching new economic development plans

State lawmakers on Thursday heard an update from Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker on its massive reorganization, which will create public-private partnerships to boost the economy around the state.

Decker told the Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight Committee that the new entity will be in operation early next year. She is in the process of hiring a chief executive officer for what will be the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

Legislators budgeted $1 million to set up the new entity. Programs will be split between public and private sector programs. The private sector programs will be overseen by a 15-member board, comprised of appointments by the governor and General Assembly.

Candidate emerges to replace Foushee in House

A candidate has announced his interest in replacing Democrat Valerie Foushee in the state House: Drew Nelson, a lawyer who represents indigent clients in appellate court.

Earlier this month,first-term legislator Foushee was named to replace veteran lawmaker Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, who retired in August. Foushee’s House seat is now open and her replacement will be chosen by a committee of the Democratic Party.

The District 50 seat represents Durham and Orange counties.

Nelson is a North Carolina native who received his law degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and obtained a master’s degree from Duke. He is married to a doctor, and the family has lived in Orange and Durham counties for 16 years, according to his campaign website.

He’s a partner at Willis Johnson & Nelson in Raleigh. He says his political experience includes working on environmental issues and serving on former Rep. Joe Hackney’s staff.

Nelson, in a news release issued Thursday, said Republican “extreme policy changes” in education prompted him to seek the office.

“As the son of a North Carolina public school teacher and an elementary school principal, and as the parent of a child soon to be enrolled in public school, education is a critical issue driving my candidacy,” Nelson said.

Poll shows strong support for photo ID, less for other parts of new elections law

A new High Point University poll released Tuesday shows overwhelming support for the requirement that voters show government-issued photo identification, as required by the new state law. Nearly three-fourths support it.

But it also finds support drops off considerably for some of the other provisions in the law: 56 percent disapprove of eliminating same-day registration, and 55 percent disapprove of shortening early-voting days from 17 to 10.

The survey of 408 residents with standard telephones or cell phones covered all 100 counties, and has a margin of error of 5 percent. The poll was taken by interviewers between Sept. 8-12. Most of the participants were registered voters.

The results are similar to what other polls have found so far this year, as the issue was debated in the General Assembly.

Here's where you can find the poll.

McCrory pushes back against veto overrides

Updated with text of governor's statement.

The state Senate on Wednesday quickly overrode the governor’s vetoes of a pair of bills, following the same path the House took the day before.

But Gov. Pat McCrory immediately pushed back, saying he will not carry out the new drug-testing of welfare recipients law, and he will consider challenging the new immigration law if it doesn’t withstand legal scrutiny.

McCory’s communications staff released a long written statement late Wednesday morning reiterating his earlier concerns about the two bills. McCrory said the executive branch would not take any action on House Bill 392, the drug-testing bill, until legislators find the money to pay for its implementation across the state. It would allow welfare recipients to be tested if social workers suspect they have been abusing drugs, and in some circumstances be required to get fingerprinted.

On House Bill 786, the immigration bill, McCrory said he will direct the executive branch “to explore all legal and executive authority to ensure the letter and spirit of our nation’s immigration law is followed in this state.” The new law expands the period in which seasonal workers do not have to have their immigration status checked in the federal E-Verify system. The governor says it creates a loophole that industries besides agriculture will abuse.

Senate follows House in overriding both vetoes

The state Senate on Wednesday quickly overrode the governor’s vetoes of a pair of bills, following the same path the House took the day before.

There was never any real question about what the Senate would do, with its firm Republican majority, even though Democrats who had supported the bills in July lined up in favor of sustaining the vetoes on Wednesday. They failed to pick up GOP support for the vetoes.

Democrats offered no debate, however, and so both overrides were accomplished in just six minutes.

Afterward, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger echoed House Speaker Thom Tillis’ remarks from Tuesday downplaying the political damage that Gov. Pat McCrory might have incurred from losing the veto fight.

Lt. Gov. Forest backs McCrory on immigration bill veto

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on Friday announced he supports Gov. Pat McCrory's veto of H.B. 786, the immigration bill.

Forest sent out a news release acknowledging the General Assembly can muster enough votes to override the veto when it convenes for a veto session on Tuesday. "But I respectfully ask that they do not do so," Forest said.

The lieutenant governor's opposition to the bill is the same as the governor's -- that it carves out a loophole that would allow employers other than in the agricultural industry to classify some workers as seasonal for a much longer time than is permitted under current law.

The loophole "will be exploited by some unscrupulous employers to reclassify non-agricultural workers as 'seasonal' for the purposes of evading the E-Verify law," Forest said.

Forest said the legislature could accept the veto and fix the loophole in a bill next year. He noted that as president of the Senate he can't vote unless there is a tie -- which will not be the case on this veto vote. But if he could he would vote to uphold the veto.

PPP: Chilton, Foushee top crowded field to replace Kinnaird

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton and state Rep. Valerie Foushee are the top choices in a crowded field of candidates who want to replace nine-term Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, according to an early assessment of the race.

That’s not surprising, given Chilton and Foushee have the greatest name recognition in the district, which includes Chatham and Orange counties.

Chilton was elected to the Chapel Hill Town Council in 1991, before moving to Carrboro and running for office there. Foushee, who was elected to the House last year, has been on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education and the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

The Public Policy Polling survey found 36 percent of voters in Senate District 23 said Chilton would be one of their top two choices, and 28 percent put Foushee in their top two.

Madison Kimrey, 12, wants to share cake, conversation with governor

Madison Kimrey, the 12-year-old from Burlington who has become a memorable face of protest in Raleigh -- after the governor's staff brought her and fellow protesters outside the Governor's Mansion slices of cake -- will bring her own cake, which she hopes to share with Gov. Pat McCrory.

She's set a time and place just down the street from the governor's place. Will he show?

National media beats up on NC, and that's just fine with GOP

Judging by all the national media attention on North Carolina’s swing to the right – particularly the comedy TV show variety – you’d think the GOP was sunk.

But, funny as they may be, the national political jokesters might not be the best source of insight into the state’s future. At least that’s how the Republicans see it – to the contrary.

North Carolina will be leading a red-state resurgence, North Carolina GOP media strategist Marc Rotterman tells NPR blogger Alan Greenblatt. “I think McCrory is going to end up being one of the most popular governors in the country,” Rotterman is quoted saying in the It’s All Politics blog last week.

Greenblatt writes that Rotterman’s rosy outlook might be surprising, since the national view is that the controversial Republican legislature and McCrory would seem to make North Carolina “more ripe for Democrats, not less.”

Check it out here. .

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