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White House names NC State institute director a 'Champion of Change'

The White House will honor Anita Brown-Graham, the Institute for Emerging Issues director at North Carolina State University, for her innovation in tackling some of the state’s biggest issues.

Brown-Graham will receive the title of “Champion of Change,” given through a program President Barack Obama created to highlight the accomplishments of people and organizations working toward a better future.

As Obama heads to North Carolina, will McCrory join him?

When the U.S. president visits your state, it's not uncommon for the governor -- regardless of party -- to greet him. President Barack Obama arrives Thursday for a speech in Mooresville.

But it's still unclear if Republican Gov. Pat McCrory will join him or acknowledge his visit in any way. A spokesman for McCrory said earlier this week "it is still yet to be determined whether or not the governor will be with President Obama."

Obama will visit a school to see technology being used in the classroom and later deliver remarks touting digital learning. It's a topic near-and-dear to McCrory, too. Will we see an Obama-Chris Christie or Obama-Charlie Crist moment of bipartisanship?

Kay Hagan expresses hope for woman nominee in 2016

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is featured in an ABC News broadcast airing Thursday evening about the record number of female senators that take office today. The Democrat joined 19 of the 20 women for an interview with Diane Sawyer.

Hagan gets far less airtime than some of her colleagues, according to a transcript, but at one point expressed hope there will be a woman nominee for president in 2016.

Notebook: Jeb Bush to headline McCrory fundraiser -- and what it could mean

Pat McCrory is red-carpet political fundraising has attracted its fair share of GOP stars: Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Steve Forbes and Nikki Haley.

But his campaign's April 30 check-gathering at the Angus Barn will likely top those events thanks to headliner Jeb Bush. The hosts for the event -- announced Thursday by his campaign -- include former Denmark Ambassador Jim Cain, appointed by President George W. Bush; Golden Corral executive Ted Fowler; Republican uber-fundraiser Kieran Shanahan; and businesswoman Judi Grainger.

Bush, the former Florida Republican governor, is widely considered as a future presidential candidate and known for his dedication to education policy. And it's worth noting he's in town next month as part of an education summit with former Democratic N.C. Gov. Jim Hunt.

The event will help McCrory boost his financial advantage over the Democratic candidates who will spend the next six weeks squeezing blood from a turnip and spend much of it to get the party's nomination.

Effort envisions a third party presidential candidate

A national online effort to find and nominate a candidate for president has begun a petition drive to get that candidate on the ballot in North Carolina.

Americans Elect, described as a "virtual Third Party," hopes to mobilize tens of thousands of people across the country to recommend and then vote on a presidential ticket in 2012.

Organizers say they've already gotten the 1.6 million signatures they need to get on the ballot in California.

"There's a real hunger out there for a third ticket in 2012 and for folks to participate in a more meaningful way in a primary," Elliot Ackerman, the group's chief operating officer, told the Observer on Monday. "Not just people who live in early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire but every American."

The group's board of advisers includes Mark Erwin of Charlotte, an investor and former U.S. ambassador, former FBI Director William Webster and Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to President George W. Bush. Read more from The Charlotte Observer here.

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