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Walmart shooting spurs new gun bill

A bill that would make it a felony instead of a misdemeanor to fire a weapon inside a building, car or truck to frighten people inside appears headed for a full vote of the Senate.

The proposal by Sen. Peter Brunstetter, a Republican from Winston-Salem, was heard in a committee Thursday, where it faced a few technical questions from senators but drew no public comment. Since it was scheduled for discussion only, the bill will return to the judiciary committee next week and then likely head to the floor.

Brunstetter filed the bill to plug a gap in the law that makes it a felony to shoot into a building but only a misdemeanor to shoot inside. The gap was illuminated last October when a man walked into a Walmart in Kernersville one night and fired a gun into two flat-screen televisions and a wall.

What's on the menu? Gubernatorial grits and good conversation

Since the first week of the legislative session, Gov. Pat McCrory has invited 29 state lawmakers to breakfast at the mansion.

The roster includes powerful Republicans -- House and Senate majority leaders and committee chairs -- but not one Democrat, according to a list of names received by The News & Observer through a records request.

Senate tentatively OKs boards & commissions bill, despite concerns about getting rid of judges

The Senate on Wednesday tentatively approved the bill that would give Republican legislators and the GOP governor the power to remove all members of several key boards and commissions and replace them with their own choices.

Republicans agreed to take another day for the final vote.

The approval along party lines came despite warnings from Democrats that the bill could be unconstitutional because the General Assembly is not allowed to remove individual judges from office. Republicans said it's OK to eliminate the positions of 12 special superior court judges, who often travel around the state to hear cases.

1360188338 Senate tentatively OKs boards & commissions bill, despite concerns about getting rid of judges The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Congressman Price, state Sen. Dan Blue to endorse Etheridge

Former Congressman Bob Etheridge will announce big endorsements for his gubernatorial bid on Monday.

Democratic Congressman David Price and Democratic state Sen. Dan Blue -- who at one point considered entering the governor's race himself -- are the biggest names on the list. Price and Blue will appear at a Monday morning press conference for Etheridge.

Bob Etheridge will join governor's race Wednesday

UPDATED: Ending days of speculation, Bob Etheridge will officially file for governor Wednesday  morning, a spokesman said.

The former Congressman announced his bid for governor earlier this month, but since then rumors swirled that Etheridge wouldn't file candidacy papers amid anemic fundraising and early stumbles. Filing ends Wednesday.

Nonetheless, Etheridge starts as the early favorite. In a hypothetical matchup with Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and state Rep. Bill Faison, the other two major candidates, Etheridge leads by 6 percentage points with about two in five likely voters still undecided, according to a Public Policy Polling survey from earlier this month.

The only other major candidate still mulling a bid is state Sen. Dan Blue. An announcement on his decision is expected later today.

Morning Roundup: Democratic governor's race begins to take shape

Here's a special weekend edition of the Dome political news roundup:

The Democratic governor's race will begin to take better shape this week. Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton will file his candidate papers Tuesday and Congressman Bob Etheridge met with his staff today to formulate a game plan for next week. If you missed Saturday's paper, the announced candidates made their first joint appearance in Wake County.

In Charlotte, Jim Morrill sheds light on why three prime downtown hotels weren't among those hosting delegates in last week's announcement and how Charlotte, S.C. is apparently the same as Charlotte, N.C. Also, city officials shared some details about security spending.

On Jones Street, the legislature adjourned until April's mini-session without incident Saturday. And if you didn't see it, the liberal N.C. Policy Watch dug up footage of House Speaker Thom Tillis talking to a crowd of tea partiers outside his second floor office -- the same place where protesters were removed last week.

And columnist Rob Christensen remembers Bill Snider, one of the state's great newsmen.

Sen. Dan Blue is listening, but not making moves yet

State Sen. Dan Blue's name is being floated as a potential statewide candidate -- either for governor or lieutenant governor since both are now open.

In an interview Friday, he acknowledged getting a few calls and said he is listening. "But I'm not actively seeking anything."

Blue says he doesn't expect the Democratic primaries at the top of the ticket to gel quickly, and more names are likely to emerge as candidates beyond Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and state Rep. Bill Faison.

Michael Munger, a Duke University political science professor and former Libertarian candidate for governor, sees potential if Blue gets in the mix. In citing three possibilities stemming from Perdue's decision, he wrote this: "'One is that this is engineered to make way for Dan Blue, the African-American state senator from Wake County. Perdue waited until now to make it harder for anyone else to enter the race. The fact that the primary is on the same day as the constitutional amendment on gay marriage assures a large black turnout. This could be the difference to get Dan Blue the nomination."

Wake County Democratic chairman and executive director stepping down

Mack Paul announced today that he’s resigning as chairman of the Wake County Democratic Party.

Paul, who has been chairman since September 2010, said he’s stepping down as of Dec. 31 to refocus on his family and his legal work. He said also wants work on the statewide and Presidential races next year.

Executive Director Tammy Brunner is also leaving to work with the state Democratic party and Obama's campaign, Organizing for America.

One possible name suggested as a replacement: Dan Blue III, the son of state Sen. Dan Blue.

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