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Janet Cowell makes magazine's list of Democrats to watch

State Treasurer Janet Cowell made Governing magazines's list of Democrats to watch at the state level.

The Governing writeup: "Cowell, the first woman to be elected North Carolina's treasurer, oversees more than $70 billion in pension fund investments for state employees. The daughter of a Methodist minister and public school teacher, Cowell earned an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and cut her teeth on Wall Street before moving to the (Tar Heel) State in 1997. She won election to the Raleigh city council in 2001, where she served two terms, then won a state Senate seat in 2004 before winning her first term as treasurer in 2008 against a respected GOP legislator. She was re-elected last fall, even as her fellow Democrats lost the governor's mansion and lost ground in both legislative chambers. North Carolina has been open to electing women to higher office in recent years, and Cowell could get more exposure than usual if the state legislature takes up tax reform this year -- an issue Cowell has emphasized during her tenure."

Analysis find health care interests giving big in governor's race

The recent Supreme Court ruling on the federal health care law may be driving campaign contributions this campaign season, an analysis from Governing Magazine suggests.

The researchers looked at two states: Indiana and North Carolina. It determined that health care is primed to play a significant role in the state level races, particularly the gubernatorial battle between Republican Pat McCrory and Democrat Walter Dalton.

"According to Governing’s analysis, Dalton has received at least $17,200 post-Supreme Court from contributors with connections to health-care reform (out of $1.7 million for his entire candidacy), while McCrory has garnered $37,254 (out of $3.8 million). These are the early returns since the Court’s decision, and the number for both is likely higher: donations have only been disclosed through June 30. But there was some significant movement in the immediate aftermath of the ruling," wrote the magazine's Dylan Scott.

Joe Hackney, cover boy

Hackney CoverSpeaker Joe Hackney is an unusual pick for cover boy.

The Chapel Hill Democrat, a mustachioed cattle farmer and divorce lawyer, is not as good-looking as Brad Pitt, as charismatic as Will Smith or as omnipresent as Barack Obama.

But Governing magazine is not GQ, Entertainment Weekly or, um, every magazine currently in publication.

It's cover story, "Legislatures in 2009" (see what we mean?), highlights Hackney as a "squeaky clean" reformer who came to power as disgraced former Speaker Jim Black fell from grace.

Still, it says he was not the "consensus choice."

He attributes that to his cleaner-than-thou image. "When you're running for speaker," he says, "that's a help with some people and a hindrance with others." But most members recognized the chance Hackney's reputation offered them to begin rebuilding public trust. He was elected speaker after four caucus ballots.

The article notes that Hackney has grown more business-friendly as his district has shifted away from Chapel Hill and into rural Chatham County, though he remains "perhaps the leading environmentalist" in the House.

It also says he's opened up the legislative process, allowing more time for debate and study and avoiding running roughshod over the Republican minority.

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