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Outside spending in last year's races passed $14.5 million

The Institute for Southern Studies has tallied up the final spending by outside groups in North Carolina political campaigns last year. The results are pretty much the same as the nonprofit public policy group came up with in November, but some of the updated numbers are worth noting:

The N.C. Supreme Court race drew more than $2.8 million in spending from independent groups. Eighty-nine percent of it was spent to elect Justice Paul Newby over appellate court Judge Sam Ervin IV. The N.C. Judicial Coalition spent $1.9 million to help Newby.

The governor’s race attracted more than $8.1 million in outside spending.

The biggest outside spender of all was the Republican Governors Association, based in Washington, D.C., which spent more than $4.9 million to elect Pat McCrory governor. National corporations are the big contributors to the RGA, along with North Carolina-based businesses such as Reynolds Tobacco, Duke Energy and Variety Stores (owned by state budget director Art Pope).

In all, more than $14.5 million was spent by independent groups. The Institute for Southern Studies has its numbers online at its website.

UPDATE:The liberal group Common Sense Matters spent close to $1 million. As previously reported, that group gets its money from the N.C. Futures Action Fund (which was involved in the Wake school board elections in 2011), the N.C. League of Conservation Voters, N.C. Advocates for Justice (the trial lawyers), America Votes Action Fund (a national liberal group), the N.C. Association of Educators, and a couple of Planned Parenthood entities. .

GOP campaign finance complaint against Dalton, Perdue dismissed

State officials dismissed a Republican campaign finance complaint filed days before the November election that alleged illegal collusion between Democrats Walter Dalton and Bev Perdue.

The state Republican Party said it identified 65 donors who received refunds from Perdue's campaign committee who later made contributions to Dalton, the Democratic candidate for governor. But in a letter dated Tuesday, the State Board of Elections said all 65 donations identified as suspect were legitimate.

"Our office found no campaign finance violations ... for these contributions and as such this matter is considered resolved," the letter states.

Morning Memo: North Carolina as a model for the national GOP?

N.C. AS A MODEL FOR THE NATIONAL GOP? For most Republicans, November was grim. But in North Carolina it was a happier story. “North Carolina could be a model for ‘red state’ resurgence,” says Marc Rotterman, a GOP strategist from Raleigh.

North Carolina Republicans will showcase their performance this week to the Republican National Committee, which starts its three-day winter meeting Wednesday at the Westin in uptown. A presentation scheduled for Thursday is called “Success in N.C.: A Blueprint for the Future.” But how much of that blueprint can be replicated is debatable.

***Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for N.C. political news and analysis. Click below to read more.***

Groups tally outside spending in North Carolina

Two public-interest organizations have analyzed outside election spending in North Carolina and 20 other states, and on Thursday released a report on their findings. The report is meant to draw attention to what it sees as a big problem: too much money is being spent by outside and secretive interests on federal campaigns.

Outside spending more even this election, preliminary reports suggest

Spending by third-party groups in North Carolina legislative races appears to have been more even than in the previous election cycle, even as Republicans dominated individual and caucus fundraising, Scott Mooneyham at The Insider reports.

IRS documents and state campaign finance reports seem to indicate that the spending by the two major 527 groups in North Carolina -- Real Jobs NC, which backed Republican candidates, and Common Sense Matters, which backed Democratic candidates, spent similar amounts. Those reports show Real Jobs NC spending $812,605, compared to $773,641 for Common Sense Matters.

Morning Memo: McCrory gets campaign cash from indicted donor, Hudson on the rise

GOP GOV REPORTS CAMPAIGN CASH WELL AFTER ELECTION DAY: Pat McCrory won the governor's race Nov. 6 but campaign donors kept filling his coffers through the end of the year, according to new campaign finance reports. The Republican reported raising more than $42,000 after Election Day putting his total haul for the entire campaign at $12.3 million -- nearly three times as much as Democratic rival Walter Dalton, who raised $4.3 million.

McCRORY REPORTS DONATION FROM INDICTED DONOR:One more donation listed after the election: Trawick "Buzzy" Stubbs. He gave McCrory $1,000 in a check reported Nov. 27.

Stubbs was indicted in 2012 for his political donations to Gov. Bev Perdue in the 2008 race involving a plane he allowed the Democrat to use in the campaign. He is charged with obstruction of justice and causing the campaign to file false reports. After his indictment, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, then just a candidate, returned the $250 donation Stubbs gave his campaign. The case is still pending and Stubbs is challenging the charges.

This is the Dome Morning Memo, a political tipsheet covering North Carolina politics. Read more campaign finance exclusive and a news roundup below.

Liberal group wants McCrory to call for Hartsell's resignation

A liberal advocacy group is trying to pin down Gov. Pat McCrory on state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell's campaign finance troubles.

Progress North Carolina is calling on McCrory to ask Hartsell, a Concord Republican, to resign after he spent nearly $100,000 from his campaign account to pay personal credit cards. The state election agency is investigating the spending. "Gov. McCrory has a chance to make a clear statement against government corruption," said Gerrick Brenner of Progress NC. "But if he says nothing, McCrory proves he's all talk and no substance."

A McCrory spokesman declined to comment.

Morning Memo: 'Gov. Pay Raise', Sen. Hartsell face tough questions

GOV. PAY RAISE: The salary hikes Gov. Pay McCrory gave to his cabinet are stricking a chord. From N&O columnist Barry Saunders: If you saw our new governor live or on television banging away on a drum set with a band at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre last week, you already know Ringo has nothing to worry about.

For further evidence that the governor is tone deaf, all you had to do was read the newspaper the next day and see that Gov. Pat, henceforth known as Gov. Pay Raise, McCrory bestowed sizable raises on the people closest to him while sprinkling a pittance upon those outside his inner circle – you know, the ones who do the actual work.

You are reading the Dome Morning Memo, an analysis of the day's political headlines. Read much more below. Thanks.

AHEAD THIS WEEK: The UNC system committee considering a new five-year plan meets Monday. The NAACP holds is own legislative briefing -- sure to be much different from the one Republicans will hold -- Tuesday to talk about poverty and economic justice.

Morning Memo: The private first lady, and inaugural party time begins

MUST READ: First Lady Ann McCrory shuns the public spotlight. From the story: Ann McCrory hasn’t fully embraced McCrory's political career. Nor has she opposed it. Now, after her husband’s three city council terms, seven terms as mayor and two tries at the governor’s office, she has moved into a late 19th century mansion at the center of government for a state of more than 9 million people. There, the demands on her time – and the questions about her own life and marriage – will immeasurably grow. However, those who know the new first lady say there are no guarantees that her public role will grow right along with them.

***Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo, a digest of the day's political news and other tidbits from the statehouse arena. Click below for more***

Walter Dalton spent $4.3 million in his losing bid for governor

Democrat Walter Dalton spent $4.3 million in his losing bid for governor, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday.

Dalton, who lost by 11 points, just couldn't match GOP rival Pat McCrory's spending. He raised $4.28 million and left only $12,192.60 in the bank, as of Dec. 31. (McCrory has yet to file his final report, but led Dalton 6-to-1 in campaign cash days ahead of the election.)

In the final two weeks, Dalton raised $385,000 and spent $641,000 -- decent numbers but not enough. He spent about a third of the money on media advertising in the final days but none of it moved the needle. He lost by about the same margin as polls indicated weeks ahead of time.

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