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GOP questions Perdue refunds, Dalton contributions

Months after deciding not to seek another term, Perdue refunded $243,000 in campaign contributions. About $100,000 soon found its way to Dalton’s campaign, disclosure reports show.

About 15 of the 50 donors received the contribution and wrote a check to Dalton within a couple weeks. Now the timing is the subject of a campaign finance complaint filed by the N.C. Republican Party that alleges the transfers amount to an excess contribution from the Perdue campaign to Dalton.

Absent from campaign trail, Perdue helps Dalton behind the scenes

UPDATED: A major question entering the gubernatorial campaign: How would outgoing Gov. Bev Perdue handle the election of her successor?

At first glance, it seems that she ignored the governor's race. She didn't appear on the campaign trail for Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and kept $1.3 million in her campaign account instead of donating it to the state Democratic Party to help her would-be successor. On Monday, the day before the election, Perdue's lone public event is a digital learning conference in Asheboro.

Site Selection Magazine ranks NC top business climate

North Carolina, the state with the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country, has the best business climate in the nation, according to Site Selection magazine.

It's the second time in three years the Tar Heel state has finished first in the magazine's rankings, which are based on a survey of corporate site selectors and various other criteria, including capital investment and tax burdens. Gov. Bev Perdue touted the ranking in a statement Thursday.

North Carolina edged out Ohio, which was followed by Texas, Georgia and Virginia. Nine of the top 10 states are in the South or Southeast.

Gov. Perdue refunds donors, gives $250K to party; $1.26 million remains

As noted in today's story, Gov. Bev Perdue is still sitting on $1.26 million as her would-be Democratic successor struggled to raise money. More details from her report:

Perdue started the year with $2 million. Since July, she directed $250,000 to the state Democratic Party and refunded $243,000 to individual donors. A campaign aide said she also gave $4,000 to Dalton, but the donation is not reflected in the records.

Morning Roundup: Democrats struggle to pay $10 million in convention debts

How do you pay the bills when the party’s over and the guests have gone? Democratic National Convention organizers are about to find out.

After struggling for more than a year to raise money – and ultimately coming up short – they face $10 million in debts and unpaid obligations, according to reports filed this week with the Federal Election Commission. “This is a difficult debt to retire,” said Viveca Novak, a spokeswoman for the Center for Responsive Politics. “If (President) Obama loses on Nov. 6, then very few people are going to want to give to this lingering debt from the convention.” Full story here.

More political headlines:

--As Mitt Romney's campaign shifts a staffer to Ohio, saying North Carolina is confidently red, the Obama campaign said rather than downsizing, it had in recent weeks added organizers. “This signals to North Carolina voters that the Romney campaign is taking their votes for granted,” said Cameron French, the chief spokesman for the state Obama campaign.

Gov. Perdue directs $20 million to state preschool program

Gov. Bev Perdue will put an additional $20 million into the state preschool program, allowing 6,300 more children to enroll.

About 1,000 children will be able to enroll immediately, her office said Thursday. The rest will find space in classrooms before the end of the year. Perdue is not running for re-election and her term ends in January.

A statement from Perdue’s office said she identified $20 million in “projected unspent funds” in the state Department of Health and Human Services budget to pay for the expansion.

Morning Roundup: State Supreme Court battle one of top races on ballot

The Republican and Democratic parties are paying particular attention this year to one down ballot race: N.C. Supreme Court. Although judicial elections are officially nonpartisan, there are strong partisan stakes in the outcome of this race. In the balance is the current 4-3 split on the state Supreme Court that currently tips conservative. Incumbent Paul Newby is a registered Republican and challenger Sam "Jimmy" Ervin IV, an appeals court judge, is a Democrat.

The importance of the race is why outside interests have started raising money for their candidate – in this case, Newby – to bolster the limited funds candidates can raise. Both candidates received $240,100 in public financing; Newby has raised about $94,000 from individuals and Ervin about $85,000, in the first half of this year. Read more about the race here.

More political headlines:

--After a week of moves to the middle on taxes, health care and abortion, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney returned to the South on Thursday to reassure conservatives and evangelical Christians that he’s a would-be president they can trust. Romney began his Tar Heel trip – his fifth visit to the state this year – by making a pilgrimage to Montreat to meet and pray with 93-year-old evangelist Billy Graham.

Morning Roundup: Gov. Perdue warns against looming federal budget cuts

Gov. Bev Perdue and officials with Lockheed Martin made a stop Wednesday in Charlotte to tout the economic benefits of the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, which is set to become the armed forces’ new workhorse warplane.

At the Carolinas Aviation Museum at Charlotte Douglas International Airport Wednesday, Perdue said the program also is under threat from the automatic “sequestration” cuts to defense spending, which are set to kick in if lawmakers can’t reach a compromise to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff next year. Read full story here.

More political headlines below

GOP uses Gov. Perdue to bash President Obama in new mailer

Gov. Bev Perdue isn't seeking re-election -- but you wouldn't know it from the mailers the Republicans are sending this year.

The latest flier links the unpopular Democratic incumbent to President Barack Obama, showing the two of them embracing on an airport runway. "What have President Obama and Governor Perdue done to North Carolina?!" it asks on the front.

The mail piece was sent by the N.C. Republican Party in coordination with the Mitt Romney campaign, whose logo appears on the flier.

Inside (see below), the flier attempts to blame Obama and Perdue for the state's economic woes and hits both for raising taxes. The governor is certainly a big cheerleader for the president but the flier stretches the connection between the two Democrats policies and proposals.

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