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Morning Roundup: Election officials warn about integrity of 2012 vote

A bipartisan group of North Carolina election officials is urging Republican lawmakers to unfreeze $4 million in federal money that they say is necessary to accommodate a large voter turnout and ensure the integrity of the 2012 ballot.

Democracy North Carolina, a liberal-leaning election advocacy group, issued a memorandum that puts a potential stalemate in stark terms: "North Carolina could become the next Florida." Read more here.

The Democratic governor's race is off to a rocky start for former Congressman Bob Etheridge. Read more about it here.

And read more from the Associated Press about the legal wrangling about redistricting after the court's ruling Tuesday.

N.C.'s military earmarks

How much did North Carolina's representatives ask for in military earmarks?

Here is a tally of how many requests for military or defense-related spending the state's Congressional delegation sought in this year's budget.

Rep. Larry Kissell: $327.1 million

Rep. Bob Etheridge: $139.5 million

Rep. Mike McIntyre: $97.2 million

Rep. David Price: $87.5 million

Rep. Howard Coble: $47.4 million

Rep. G.K. Butterfield: $31 million

Rep. Mel Watt: $15 million

Rep. Walter Jones: $14.6 million

Rep. Brad Miller: $10.9 million

Rep. Heath Shuler: $5.5 million

By comparison, here is a list of how much they asked for overall.

Note: Butterfield also included $7.1 billion in requests for national military procurements that would not directly benefit his district.

Dome Memo: On the hot seat

FLYING THE COOP? Attorney General Roy Cooper was suddenly ubiquitous this week: Announcing the number of domestic violence homicides, speaking at an event for his father's new memoir, filing a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the Voting Rights Act. Now that U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler is out of the race, is it his moment to announce a run for U.S. Senate in 2010 against Sen. Richard Burr?

UNDER PRESSURE: Moderate and conservative Democrats in North Carolina might be forgiven for thinking it's campaign season again. TV ads targeted Sen. Kay Hagan and Rep. Bob Etheridge and a radio ad singled out Rep. Mike McIntyre. Their aim? Persuade the lawmakers to support President Obama's proposed budget. So far, no state Republicans have faced similar ad campaigns.

IN OTHER NEWS: The race for head of the N.C. GOP narrowed a little as David Robinson of Raleigh dropped out. ... After an earlier bill got held up over a pronoun problem, Sen. Richard Stevens filed a bill calling for gender-neutral language in state laws. ... Carolina would get a little less blue under two bills that would allow liquor tastings and let ABC stores open on Sundays. ... Speaking of alcohol, an "M. Easley" whose address was the governor's mansion turned up on a list of people who never got their shipment from Carolina Wine Co. before it went bankrupt.

RedState targets Etheridge on budget

A conservative Web site is pushing U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge to slow President Obama's budget.

In an e-mail to readers of RedState.com, editor Erick Erickson urges them to call the Lillington Democrat and four other Democrats, urging them to "slow down budget approval" in a House committee tonight.

The others are Reps. Allen Boyd of Florida, Charlie Melancon of Louisiana, Chet Edwards of Texas and John Yarmuth of Kentucky.

"Tell them to vote no on the budget tonight," he writes. "We can stop the budget if you will pick up your phone right now."

As with an earlier campaign from a liberal group, Erickson's e-mail mistakenly includes Etheridge among the Blue Dog Democrats.

He is not a member of that conservative coalition, although he is a member of the New Democrat Coalition in the House.

Ad targets Hagan on budget

A liberal group is running TV ads urging Sen. Kay Hagan to support President Obama's budget.

Americans United for Change, a liberal advocacy group that receives backing from labor unions, will spend at least $700,000 on ads in nine states, including North Carolina.

The states "just happen to be represented by some of the more conservative Democratic senators," MSNBC's First Read reports

The ad is one of at least three TV and radio ads in North Carolina. The other two target U.S. Reps. Bob Etheridge and Mike McIntyre, two conservative Democrats.

Hagan recently joined a group of moderate Democrats and has written a letter to the Senate Budget Committee protesting Obama's proposed cuts in farm funding.

After the jump, the script. 

Hat Tip: Mark Binker

Dome Memo: Budgets and judges

A LITTLE OFF THE TOP: Gov. Beverly Perdue's haircut of the state budget turned out to be a light trim, not a buzzcut. Using an accounting trick, tax hikes on cigarettes and beer and $1.7 billion in federal stimulus money, she put forth a $21 billion budget. Legislative Republicans howled, while Democrats argued over the tricks and taxes.

LET THE SUN SHINE IN: It was Sunshine Week in North Carolina. Perdue and Attorney General Roy Cooper backed a bill to disclose deaths in mental hospitals, others promoted legislative TV. Legislators continue to balk at releasing e-mails. And an analysis by the Associated Press found that the state third best at putting records online.

COURTING JUDGES: U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is looking for some help with federal judges. After years of partisan fighting, the Greensboro Democrat has made it a top goal to get a Tar Heel on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. This week she announced she would put together a panel of experts to vet potential candidates.

IN OTHER NEWS: A national liberal group aired a local TV ad to pressure U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge to vote for President Obama's budget. ... A plan to fix the State Health Plan got caught up in concerns it would hurt independent pharmacists. ... State Sen. Steve Goss backed down on a bill to criminalize blog libel, fittingly telling a local blogger first. ... Meantime, Sen. Paul Stam sought to let towns avoid buying classified ads to publicize town meetings.

Bob Etheridge

U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge talks about his new post on the House Ways and Means Committee and the need for more spending on infrastructure, especially on schools and rural Internet access.

Download MP3

Earmarks for the Triangle

With half a trillion bucks stuffed into the spending bill, there were bound to be a few million headed for the Triangle.

U.S. Reps. David Price of Chapel Hill and Bob Etheridge of Lillington, both Democrats, have released some of the special spending projects—called earmarks—that they requested for the Triangle, Barb Barrett reports. They are:

* A combined $3.675 million for road and highway projects, including funding for the completion of the southwestern portion of Interstate 540, improvements to grade crossings at Walker Street in Cary and Hobson Road in Durham, and for statewide upgrades for bus service. (Price)

* $287,000 to add 44 beds for inpatient, acute mental health care at Holly Hill Hospital, which provides care for the indigent and uninsured. (Price)

* A combined $697,000 to help convert hog-waste lagoons to more environmentally sustainable waste technologies through research at N.C. State University. (Price)

* A combined $7.5 million to N.C. State for other projects including research into food fermentation, crop pathogens, wood utilization and aquaculture. (Etheridge)

* $1 million for communications for the Raleigh Police Department and Wake County. (Etheridge)

* $164,500 for a protection system for Johnston County schools. (Etheridge)

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