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Senator Sweet Baby James?

Chapel Hill's James Taylor, who sang America the Beautiful, at Monday's inaugural, has been getting some urging to run for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts.

A public radio broadcaster is encouraging Taylor to enter the race for John Kerry's seat. Kerry is on track to be President Obama's new secretary of state.

“JT, who famously followed that road “from Stockbridge to Boston,' is as much of a hero to the people of the Bay State as General Henry Knox was,” wrote Alan Chartock, president of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio.

He argues that Taylor would have a better chance of defeating likely Republican candidate Scott Brown as Democrat Ed Markey, the dean of the Massachusetts delegation. He is not the first celebrity name to be floated for the seat. Actor Ben Affleck's named had also been mention.

There is no indication that Taylor, who campaigned extensively for Obama, and who played at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in September, is actually interested, in running for the Senate.

N.C. Democrats celebrate inauguration -- in Washington

Democrats don't have much to celebrate in North Carolina -- but it's a different story in Washington. Hours after President Barack Obama is inaugurated Jan. 21, N.C. Democrats will party at the Tar Heel Inaugural Ball.

More than 500 people are expected to attend the event at the Fort Myer Officer's Club just across the Potomac in Arlington, Va., the party announced. (Invite here.)The event is open to the public and $150 tickets are still available. Peter Lamb and The Wolves will perform. Democratic members of the state's congressional delegation are expected to attend.

At the inauguration earlier in the day, North Carolina icon James Taylor will perform along with Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson. He spent a good bit of time on the campaign trail with Obama and performed at the Democratic convention in Charlotte. For the inaugural festivities, Taylor will sing "America the Beautiful."

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

Dalton addresses crowd at CenterFest

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, the Democratic candidate for governor, had a prime speaking spot at Charlotte's CenterFest celebration Monday, introducing headliner James Taylor. Dalton described North Carolina as "a state of restless energy" that led to the creation of Research Triangle Park.

Taylor's "restless energy took him to the world of music," Dalton said. Dalton reminisced about Taylor's performance on the freezing day of former Gov. Jim Hunt's fourth inauguration. When Taylor started singing "Carolina in My Mind," the crowd warmed up, Dalton recalled.

Some in Monday's crowd released some of their restless energy during the intro, chanting "James, James, James" as it began to drizzle. Taylor got a few songs in before the drizzle became a downpour.

James Taylor added to DNC bill

James Taylor will also perform at the street festival kicking off the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next month, organizers announced this morning. Taylor will appear on Labor Day at the free event.

Update: The Democratic National Convention Committee has followed up with an announcement that Taylor will also perform at the program preceding President Barack Obama's nomination acceptance speech at the Bank of American Stadium on Sept. 6.

Other entertainers that evening include performers from America's Got Talent, Inspire the Fire and the local rock band Delta Rae.

On Thursday, the DNC host committee announced actor and musician Jeff Bridges will perform with his band, The Abiders. The Labor Day events are located in downtown Charlotte.

Janelle Monae has also been confirmed to perform.

Morning Roundup: N.C. labor officials miss simple check to protect workers

Every day, the state Department of Labor dispatches workplace inspectors to check for proper emergency exits, ample fire extinguishers, active safety training programs and dozens of other items needed to keep North Carolina workers safe on the job. One thing they’re not asked to look for: proof of workers’ compensation coverage for injured employees.

A News & Observer analysis found 300 businesses whose workers’ comp coverage appeared to be expired at the time of the inspection last year. It’s a simple cross-check of databases but no one in state government has bothered to do it. Read more here.

Other political news:

--President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are dining with winners of a campaign contest that included David Garcia, an associate music professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Sweet Baby James! A $100,000 per couple fund raising dinner

There was some major bucks paid out last week at the fund raisers attended by First Lady Michelle Obama in North Carolina.

The top price was $100,000 per couple event at the Ballantyne hotel in Charlotte to benefit the Democratic National Convention, reports Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times. That included dinner, a performance by singer James Taylor, and a photo with the First Lady and something called “a couple greet.” If you gave $50,000, you got basically the same thing without the couple greet. For $12,500, a couple got into the dinner, but no photograph and no greeting.

Earlier in the evening at the same hotel, a person could attend a reception with the First Lady and Taylor. The cost was $2,500 for platinum seating which included cuff links or bracelets with the convention logo, $1,000 for gold seating, and $250 for the cheap seats.

At the North Carolina Women for Obama reception downtown Marriott in Raleigh,  the basic price was $500. But for $5,000 a person could become a table captain (ten tickets and a photo reception) or $35,800 to be a co chair.

Local Obama volunteers get a special concert from James Taylor













President Obama's campaign volunteers in Raleigh heard a special treat last week when music legend James Taylor played an impromptu concert at their Morgan Street field offices. Taylor, who grew up in Chapel Hill, visited the area for a $500-a-person fundraising concert in Cary a couple days earlier.

The Organizing for America staff wrote about the visit on its blog

"On Thursday night, singer-songwriter James Taylor had more than just Carolina on his mind. In Raleigh last night, our volunteers were treated to a very special performance by the five time Grammy award winning rock legend. Campaign volunteers from North Carolina packed into our 130 E. Morgan Street field headquarters to watch a concert by James.

"After the performance was over Taylor took photos and hung out with the volunteers. James spoke to our volunteers as they shared campaign experiences with the singer; smiles were everywhere."

Like James Taylor? Like President Obama? This concert's for you.

North Carolina icon James Taylor is performing a special concert Nov. 8 in Cary as part of a fundraising for President Barack Obama. 

The cost for a ticket?

$500 a person.

The show will take place at the new Cary Arts Center. Taylor, a Chapel Hill native, is a well-known Democratic supporter. 

Obama to honor James Taylor

Carrboro favorite son James Taylor will be honored by President Barack Obama on Wednesday at the White House for “his remarkable contributions to American music.”

Taylor, a singer-songwriter who wrote “Carolina in my Mind” and had 10 Top-10 albums, was born in Boston but grew up in Carrboro, the Orange County town at the west end of the Triangle.

“His distinctive voice and masterful guitar playing are among the most recognized in popular music, and his expansive catalogue of songs has had a profound influence on songwriters and music lovers from all walks of life,” the White House said in its release today.

Taylor is among 20 honorees receiving medals in arts and humanities.

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