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UNC system act on McCrory's campus substance abuse challenge

Apparently Gov. Pat McCrory was serious a few months ago when he challenged UNC system leaders to do something about substance abuse on campus.

On Friday, Board of Governors Vice Chairman Frank Grainger briefed the board on a series of meetings between the governor's staff and UNC leaders. On Sept. 4, Grainger and UNC President Tom Ross met with McCrory and his staff, as well as Frank Perry, secretary of Public Safety, and Jim Gardner, chairman of the ABC Commission. The sheriffs of Anson and Guilford counties also attended, Grainger said.

"The bottom line is that it appears that drugs are becoming more and more prevalent on our campuses," Grainger said.

Thom Tillis adds top fundraisers, political staff

U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis announced his top fundraisers Thursday, adding familiar North Carolina names to his campaign.

Former Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner, former Ambassador Dave Phillips, Bob Ingram and Harry Smith will lead the House speaker's finance team. Tillis will need to raise big bucks to win the four-way (for now) Republican primary and compete with incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan, who has a large campaign war chest.

Jim Gardner pokes fun at Jim Hunt

Former Republican Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner had a little fun with his former political rival Jim Hunt as he played emcee at Saturday's inauguration.

"Is this not a great day in North Carolina," he asked toward the end of the ceremony. "And I'm even up here clapping for Jim Hunt," he added to laughter.

Hunt, the former four-term Democratic governor, did not attend the ceremony. But Bishop George Battle Jr, of African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, countered for him.

Saying he had something in common with Gardner, he said, "I used to serve you at the country club. So let's be careful about what you say about my governor Jim Hunt."

Jim Gardner gets another day in the sun

The Republicans rolled out one of their old political war horses to emcee the inauguration on Saturday. Former Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner was the master of ceremonies for the event, presiding flawlessly. Gardner, a Rocky Mount businessman, was elected to Congress in 1966, and was a candidate for governor in 1968, 1972, and 1992. He was elected lieutenant governor. Gardner, one of the father's of the conservative movement in North Carolina, that one of his favorites was the new Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. In introducing Forest, who had the backing of many social conservatives, Gardner said Forest was one "close to my heart.'' Gardner called it "a great day for North Carolina.'' "I'm even up here clapping for Jim Hunt," he said. Hunt defeated him for governor in 1992.

RNC co-chair stumping in N.C. on Tuesday

Sharon Day, the co-chairman of the Republican National Committee, will be stumping in North Carolina Tuesday, helping turn out the vote. She is attending a get-out the vote events in Cornelius and Concord this morning and Asheboro at 2:30 this afternoon, and in Salisbury at 4:30 p.m. All the events are local victory offices.

Meanwhile, Tuesday evening at 6 p.m., Jim Gardner, the former lieutenant governor and former congressman, will hopen open a GOP victory office in Rocky Mount at 1616 Sunset Ave.

Broyhill, Gardner, Holshouser and Martin to fete McCrory

Pat McCrory will be blessed by the Tar Heel Republican establishment next week at a Greensboro fund raiser attended by the “Four Jims” of GOP politics.

Laying on of the hands will be Jim Broyhill, a former congressman and former senator; Jim Gardner, a former lieutenant governor, congressman and three-time gubernatorial candidate; Jim Holshouser, a former governor, and Jim Martin, a former governor and former congressman.

They, of course, hope that McCrory will be next Republican governor.

The fund raiser is being hosted by Don, Jim and Joe Brady of Brady Energy Services. But helping put it together is Phil Kirk, who served as chief of staff for Broyhill, Holshouser and Martin.

“I think they accepted our invitation to participate because they were afraid of what I might say about them in their absence,” Kirk quipped.

The cost of admission to the the event ranges from $250 to $2,000.

Gardner backs Gurley for lt. gov.

Wake County commissioner Tony Gurley has picked up the endorsement of former Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner in his bid to win the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.

Gardner, a Rocky Mount businessman, said he was making a rare entry into Republican primary politics, but said he liked the idea that Gurley, a pharmacy owner, had a background in business.

"Frankly, I can't think of anyone more prepared to serve as North Carolina's lieutenant governor,” Gardner writes in a fund raising letter. “Tony Gurley has a unique blend of experience in government and business. We cannot afford another four years of liberal Democrats killing jobs. And Republicans  can't afford to nominate a candidate who needs on the job training.”

Gurley faces Dan Forest, a Raleigh architect.  The winner will face Democratic incumbent Walter Dalton.

Gardner, a former congressman and former state party chairman, is a three-time candidate for governor. He was an early leader in building the Republican Party in North Carolina in the 1960s and the 1970s.

Pittenger's bully pulpit

Robert PittengerWhat would Robert Pittenger do as lieutenant governor?

In 1988, Republican Jim Gardner was elected to gavel sessions led by a Democratic controlled legislature. They responded by stripping away much of the job's power, leading to the rise of Senate president pro tem Marc Basnight.

At a debate tonight on WUNC, Pittenger promised that he would help ensure GOP ideas were discussed in the Senate if he was elected. But with Basnight and Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand holding the parliamentary conch, that could prove tricky.

After the debate, Pittenger told Dome how he would operate.

He said that he would recognize more Republican legislators to speak on the floor, allowing them to make amendments. (Currently, some never get that chance.) To prevent those bills from being voted on, Rand would be forced to rule them out of order.

"Is he going to do that 20 times a day, four days a week?" he asked. "There is going to be a time when the iron-fisted control of the Senate is going to be so obvious. He's not going to have the coordinated effort of a lieutenant governor who's working on his behalf."

Pittenger said as a state senator he'd seen Democratic Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue stop debate to "get her marching orders" directly from Rand.

A curse on lieutenant governors?

Francis DeLuca says the Queen City Curse is not the only one.

Although much has been made of the failed attempts of Charlotte mayors to win statewide office, the executive director of the Civitas Institute points out that a number of lieutenant governors have lost their bids for governor.

1976 - Lt. Gov. Jim Hunt won the general election for governor
1984 - Lt. Gov. Jimmy Green lost the Democratic Primary
1988 - Lt. Gov. Bob Jordan lost the general election
1992 - Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner lost the general election
2000 - Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker lost the Democratic Primary
2008 - Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue won the Democratic Primary but is in a close general election

He also notes that while none of the Charlotte politicians won a statewide election, every lieutenant governor won at least won general election.

"Looking at the inability of seasoned statewide politicians to move up to the Governor's mansion leads me to only one conclusion — there is a curse on Lieutenant Governors who try and become governor," he writes.

Like a Rolling Stone

So much for the garage band.

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory has hired the Keith Richards of the North Carolina Republican Party.

Jack Hawke, a veteran GOP strategist, has signed on as the lead consultant for McCrory.

When McCrory entered the race last month, he declared he was going to run a garage band campaign. But after some early stumbles he has had second thoughts.

Hawke, a 66-year old Zebulon resident, managed the last successful Republican camapign for governor—Jim Martin in 1984.

He also was chief strategist for Jim Gardner’s successful 1988 camapign for lieutenant governor, helped Virginia Foxx get elected to Congess in 2004, and was state GOP party chairman for eight years, the longest of anybody in history.

He was also one of several consultants for Richard Vinroot's unsuccessful 2000 campaign for governor.

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