Opponents of the marriage amendment on the May ballot have tried to move the debate away from same-sex unions to a more common ground. They contend the amendment would endanger a wide range of legal benefits for all unmarried couples, including domestic violence protection, wills, employment benefits and custody agreements. Read more here.
--The campaign season is officially underway and the first congressional debate took place Saturday. In the 13th Congressional District race, Paul Coble played Mr. Insider and George Holding portrayed himself as Mr. Outsider concerning which candidate was best equipped to carry the conservative message to Washington. At the end, the rhetoric became testy. Read more here.
--A number of major UNC-backers in the state legislature are departing at the end of the year, prompting this question: Who will now speak up for the university in the halls of power? The answer isn't entirely clear, and the legislature is headed for even more turnover with this fall's election. But universities are already crafting a new message they hope will help them win friends among the unfamiliar faces. Read about the new strategy here.
--During the past decade, only three of North Carolina's 13 congressional districts changed parties. That is 65 House elections, and three party changes. In other words, there was about a 5 percent chance a congressman would lose. But 2012 will almost certainly bring big changes, due mainly to the redistricting plan passed by the Republican legislature - assuming it is upheld by the courts. Read Rob Christensen's column here.