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Morning Roundup: The N.C. political year in review

While North Carolina experienced a predicted blockbuster political year in 2012, the details weren't as anticipated by some.

Charlotte hosted North Carolina's first-ever major party national convention. A proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in North Carolina passed by a whopping 22 percentage points. And although it wasn't shocking that former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory was elected governor, the ease of his victory was surprising, as was his Democratic rival - Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, not Gov. Beverly Perdue. Read AP's political year in review here.

More political headlines below:

--North Carolina’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund, which has spent nearly $1 billion to clean up polluted waters and protect untainted ones, will face a dicey future as legislators convene in January.

--The N.C. House’s new Republican majority whip believes he has the votes to stop North Carolina’s green-energy mandate – the first in the Southeast when it was enacted in 2007 – in its tracks. Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County views the mandate as the government unfairly “picking winners and losers” in the marketplace. As chairman of the Public Utilities committee, Hager would like to freeze it at the current 3 percent level.

Unlike N.C., Minnesota appears likely to reject gay marriage ban

Minnesota's politics are a good bit different from North Carolina, but both states find themselves in the presidential mix and debating familiar issues.

North Carolina voted on a constitutional ban on gay marriage in May. Minnesota votes Tuesday. But unlike here, a new poll from the Raleigh firm Public Policy Polling shows the 10,000 lakes state appears headed for narrow defeat.

Democratic platform rattles gay marriage opponents in N.C. to life

UPDATED: The N.C. Values Coalition wasted no time in trying to capitalize on Democrats' platform supporting same-sex marriage.

The group's executive director, Tami Fitzgerald, sent an fundraising solicitation Wednesday asking supporters to "defend the amendment we fought so hard to pass in May."

Morning Roundup: Dalton, McCrory square off in first debate

The governor’s race enters a new phase Saturday when Democrat Walter Dalton and Republican Pat McCrory trade harsh words in the campaign’s first debate. Sponsored by the N.C. Bar Association, the Wilmington forum is an important milepost in the campaign, giving the candidates an opportunity to define their candidacy and separate themselves from their partisan affiliates. So far the race is defined by association.

More political headlines:

--A joint press conference on the budget this week provided a striking moment pointed toward an emerging dynamic between Phil Berger and Thom Tillis, according to many political observers, who saw subtle tears in the GOP fabric compared to a year earlier when Republican lawmakers worked closely together to move North Carolina to the ideological right. 

N.C. gay community activists attend White House reception

A number of North Carolina LGBT advocates visited the White House last week as part of a pride month reception.

President Barack Obama addressed the group, calling himself "a fellow advocate for an America where no matter what you look like or where you come from or who you love, you can dream big dreams and dream as openly as you want," according to the publication Q Notes.

Video: Five Questions with Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx visited Raleigh this week to meet with House Speaker Thom Tillis and talk up the Democratic National Convention. On Wednesday, he talked to Dome for a Five Questions interview about President Barack Obama's campaign, gay marriage and black voters, Republican Pat McCrory's chances against Walter Dalton and his own political future. Take a look.

Same-sex marriage opponents ask for help paying off campaign expenses

Vote for Marriage N.C. is asking supporters for $32,500 to cover final campaign expenses in its victory in the marriage amendment that voters approved in May.

Campaign finance reports show the organization raised $1.6 million and had $223,000 cash on hand, with a $100,000 outstanding loan.

Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of the group, sent out the plea for money on Thursday. Her email also lays out plans the group has to continue to be a presence in state politics.

Presidential race a toss up in North Carolina, new poll shows

A new SurveyUSA poll calls the presidential race a toss up in North Carolina -- a storyline that is likely to continue through November in this battleground state.

Mitt Romney holds a negligible lead at 45 percent to President Barack Obama's 44 percent -- within the poll's margin of error. The survey of likely voters was conducted for WRAL-TV and fits within the results of other result polls. Romney is winning independent 45-32 percent but Obama takes ideological moderates 48-37 percent.

As for Obama's support for gay marriage, 55 percent say it's important to their decision for president while 43 percent say it's not very important or not a factor. Within those numbers, black voters are the largest group saying it's not a factor at all, at 30 percent. This demographic apparently helped propel North Carolina's recent marriage amendment to passage. Click below for the full SurveyUSA write up.

Weekend Roundup: Fracking in North Carolina could carry extra risks

North Carolina’s flirtation with fracking is increasingly looking like the real thing, with Republican lawmakers poised to pass sweeping legislation this summer that would lead to drilling for natural gas.The state may have just a fraction of the enormous natural gas reserves found in Texas and Pennsylvania. But fracking here will likely entail greater risks to drinking water supplies and may require special measures not used in other states. Full story here.

More political headlines from the weekend:

--Columnist Rob Christensen: If you turned on your TV last week, you could have seen political ads touting Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, or tearing down Walter Dalton or Pat McCory. In recent days, Romney toured a Charlotte factory floor, and first lady Michelle Obama gave a commencement speech at a Greensboro college campus. The South Carolina GOP pledged to send in 1,000 volunteers into the state. All sides were hiring political operatives and opening offices. In a battleground state, politics is a growth business.

Morning Roundup: Cate Edwards may testify Tuesday for father's defense

On Tuesday, Cate Edwards, the 30-year-old daughter of the one-time Democratic presidential hopeful, is on the list of possible witnesses in the John Edwards trial. A Harvard law school graduate who’s married now, living in Washington, D.C. and running her late mother’s foundation, Cate Edwards has been in the courtroom for most of the testimony. She occasionally leans in to discuss legal points with her father.

More political headlines:

--A sarcastic Barry Saunders asks in his column: Say, didn’t we just vote to get rid of those people? A week after North Carolina voters joined the 19th century and 30 other states by voting to approve a constitutional ban on gay marriage, you can still see gay people working, walking down the street, at the gas station and at the mall. If they aren’t going anywhere, what the heck was that vote for?

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