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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.

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.

Clay Aiken: Obama's stance on gay marriage 'pretty much ensures' N.C. loss

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm guessing Clay Aiken is the first "American Idol" contestant to appear as a guest on CBS's "Face the Nation." Clay, who is also a finalist on the current season of "The Celebrity Apprentice," was in-studio this morning on the Sunday morning news issues program to discuss gay marriage and the passing of North Carolina's constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Host Bob Schieffer identified Clay as "American Idol singer and activist," and his first question to Clay was if he believed President Obama's recent statement supporting gay marriage "pretty much ensures" that he's going to lose North Carolina in the presidential election.

"I don't agree that it seals it up for him," Clay responded. "I think as people in North Carolina start to look at this amendment and realize what it's doing not just for same-sex couples but for straight couples as well, they're going to reject it."

North Carolina's marriage vote second lowest total in the South

North Carolina approved an amendment Tuesday to enshrine a ban on gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships in the state constitution -- a vote that received international attention.

To put it in perspective, the amendment passed 61 percent to 39 percent -- the second lowest approval rating in the South, more than Virginia's 57 percent and less than Florida's 62 percent.

Nationwide, North Carolina voters gave it a higher percentage approval than eight states but less than 22 others.

Weekend roundup: Get an insider's view of the John Edwards trial

The federal courtroom where John Edwards is on trial is not big enough for all the spectators. But those who are shut out can still get an insider’s view of exhibits being discussed. In an unusual move, Judge Catherine Eagles has asked the clerks to post exhibits already published to the jury on a public website. Read more here.

Other political headlines:

--The Democratic Party’s national chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, added her voice to the president’s by speaking out against North Carolina’s proposed marriage amendment. Prominent Democrats also want to put the legalization of same-sex marriage in the party platform.

--Christensen: When President Obama visited Chapel Hill last week, the theme running through national media stories was how difficult it is going to be for the president to win North Carolina again. Full column here.

Dalton supports tax hike for education, regrets co-sponsorship of 2005 constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage

As Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton readies for an expected Democratic primary for governor, he is putting his focus on education and economic development.

He said he supports Gov. Bev Perdue's proposal to increase the sales tax by 3/4 of a penny to fund education -- an issue Republicans say links him closely to the current governor, who announced Thursday that she wouldn't seek another term. 

"I don't look at that as Gov. Perdue's sales tax proposal," Dalton said in an interview Friday. "it is something that is logical that will buffer the damage that we are seeing in economic development and education.

"I want a solution, so I'm willing to embrace that and do embrace that as a way to solve it," he continued.

But Dalton did express regret that as a senator in 2005 he co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions. He said he would vote against the May referendum to put marriage between one man and one woman into the state constitution. "To be truthful, when I sponsored that bill, I was in a district at that time that very much wanted the  opportunity to vote," he said. "The more i have examined this  ... it is not the right process to mess with the constitution like that. ... Perhaps I was wrong back then."

1327703974 Dalton supports tax hike for education, regrets co-sponsorship of 2005 constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Morning Roundup: Perdue's decision alters political landscape

Gov. Bev Perdue's exit from the governor's race altered the North Carolina political landscape. Here's the complete coverage:

Perdue's decision shocked many -- but it came after a days of personal soul searching and the reality of the political math. Read more here.

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton doesn't waste time. He enters the race. How many other Democrats will do the same? Read more here.

Also, if Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx enters the race he would face former mayor Pat McCrory, the likely GOP nominee. Read here.

Opponents of the marriage amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions see renewed hope as Democrats now have a reason to go to the polls in May. Read here.

It as a typical week for Perdue until Thursday and she gave no hint of her thinking. Read more here.

Perdue's legacy starts to take shape as she battled from the state. Read here.

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