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Democrats object to voter ID legislation, suggest process is smokescreen

Democratic lawmakers stood firmly against the voter ID vetoed in the previous session and don't see a need for the legislation now. "You can't tell me voter ID is needed, particularly in this state, where you have less than one percent of voter fraud even attempted," said Rep. Mickey Michaux, a Durham Democrat. "No one has shown me any reason to require that you walk up and present a voter id to vote."

Michaux and other lawmakers spoke hours after House Speaker Thom Tillis outlined a plan to bring a voter ID measure to a vote.

Democratic Sen. Floyd McKissick argued that the measure would disproportionately affect Democratic and independent voters. "That is their goal -- to oppress that vote by any means necessary," he said.

At the same time, Democrats noted that absentee voting -- which is favored by Republicans -- would not require a photo ID to cast a ballot. "I'm one who believes in equal protection," Michaux said. "If you put voter ID out there for some folks and not for other folks you are not getting equal protection."

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pittsboro mayor named new Democratic Party chairman

Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller was elected chairman of the N.C. Democratic Party over former congressman Bob Etheridge by a vote of 309-298.

Voller was the only candidate campaigning after former state senator Eric Mansfield dropped out of the race. Etheridge left the meeting before he was nominated and did not speak on his own behalf.

Etheridge supporters said the party needed someone who could raise money and who had statewide and national connections.

Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham urged voters to pass the baton to a new leader.

Pat McCrory stands behind controversial TV advertisement

Pat McCrory's campaign is standing behind its television ad featuring a controversial former sheriff, rejecting the notion that it carries racial undertones as a leading black lawmaker suggested.

In a statement, McCrory spokesman Ricky Diaz didn't address the substance of Democratic state Sen. Floyd McKissick's letter to the campaign about former Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay's appearance in a TV ad. But he linked McKissick to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton and asserted it as a "positive ad." 

Gay, who is white, blamed race for his 24-point loss in the 2010 Democratic primary to a black SBI agent, who he said wasn't qualified for the job. Gay later switched to the Republican Party, an issue the TV ad highlighted without explaining why the sheriff made the switch.

Diaz did not respond to other questions about the TV commercial and McCrory's thoughts on Gay's remarks.

Black leader asks McCrory to take down TV ad he says is racially charged

The leader of the N.C. legislative black caucus is calling on Republican Pat McCrory to take off the air a television commercial featuring a former county sheriff who blamed race for his failed re-election bid.

Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay, who is white, lost the 2010 Democratic primary to a former SBI agent, who is black, by 24 points. Gay, who switched to the Republican Party after his loss, said race played a role. "Ninety-eight percent of them voted based on race. They didn't vote based on qualifications," he told a TV station at the time.

In a letter to McCrory, Democratic state Sen. Floyd McKissick said he was appalled by the campaign commerical. "This ad, with this script, featuring this man was no accident. He triggers a racial cue that has no place in this campaign," McKissick wrote. "The ad featuring Wayne Gay is offensive and plays upon fear. Thus, I call on you to take it down."

McCrory's campaign did not immediately return a message about whether he would comply or whether he knew about Gay's racially tinged remarks.

Black lawmakers decry Republican attacks on African Americans

Black lawmakers in the N.C. General Assembly say the Republican leadership is attacking and showing a lack of respect for African Americans.

"Since taking control of the General Assembly last November, Republicans have shown little compassion on issues relating to African Americans in North Carolina," said state Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr. in a statement.

The carefully worded -- but nonetheless blunt -- statement from the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus came in a press release Thursday, hours after the Senate overrode the governor's veto of the Racial Justice Act and rumors swirled about a Republican effort to push through a law requiring voters to show ID at the polls.

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