FLORIDA GOP JOINS MEMO-GATE: A secret strategy memo designed to weaken Republicans in North Carolina is also getting attention in Florida, where elements of the plan were derived. Florida GOP Chairman Lenny Curry issued a memo to tie Florida Democrats to the plan: "In short, this document is as disgusting as it is alarming, and shows that Democrats do not want to reach across the aisle to find common sense solutions. Instead, they seek to divide and conquer. But this strategy is not just limited to North Carolina. These tactics actually have their roots right here in Florida, as the leaked document, public records and news reports make abundantly clear." (More on Florida memo below.)
TODAY IN POLTICS: Gov. Pat McCrory visits western North Carolina on Friday. He will read "Oh, The Places You'll Go," as part of Dr. Seuss day. (Gov. Bev Perdue read "Cat in the Hat" last year.) And later McCrory will visit Black Mountain's Main Street.
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ABC-11 GETS McCRORY EXCLUSIVE: Raleigh's ABC 11 landed what it's calling the governor's "first indepth interview since taking office." The 3:30 minute segment features anchor Larry Stogner interviewing McCrory. The interview breaks no new ground but McCrory says he enjoys governing more than campaigning. "I wanted to be able to make these tough decisions," he said, later acknowledging his choice to cut benefits for the unemployed was "risky." McCrory also says after his 2008 loss to Gov. Bev Perdue he was "never anticipating running again. I had decided my political career was over." But McCrory did start his second bid in 2010, roughly a year and a half later.
'THE LIFE OF A GOVERNOR': The Stogner interview will forever be remembered for its kicker in which Stogner editorializes about how McCrory had to buy his own mattresses because taxpayers didn't provide one for him. "A metal bed frame is all the keeps them off the floor," Stogner says, "the life of a governor."
CIVITAS POLL: Out Friday. Check Dome for details.
FLORIDA GOP LETTER: Chairman Larry Curry uses the letter to pitch what he calls a "Florida Civility Project" -- a strategy to separate the Republicans from Democrats "extremely distasteful, hyper-aggressive tactics." More: "As Chairman, I’ve made it clear that these kinds of vitriolic and divisive political tactics must become a thing of the past. I recently wrote an op-ed committing to a more civil discourse in pursuit of common sense solutions for our state. With that in mind, I would like to enlist your help to spread the word about a new Republican initiative that we’ve been working on. It’s called the Florida Civility Project, and the goal is to invite Floridians to join together and work toward common sense solutions through friendly debate and discussion, while avoiding negative attacks and the politics of personal destruction. "
CIVITAS HOSTS CONSERVATIVE CONFAB THIS WEEKEND: The right-leaning Civitas Institute is hosting it's big leadership conference in Raleigh this weekend. Former Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint and columnist Michelle Malkin are two of the major keynote speakers Friday. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and legislative leaders Phil Berger and Thom Tillis will also make remarks.
TOP POLITICAL HEADLINES:
HOUSE VOTE SETS UP GOP SHOWDOWN ON BOARDS BILL: From AP -- House Republicans stayed largely united Thursday while agreeing to their version of a Senate bill to sweep out more than 100 appointees to key state boards and regulatory commissions, a move Democrats call a GOP power play that will benefit special interests. The proposal received tentative approval by a 70-42 vote, one day after committee debate revealed tensions among Republicans within the chamber and with Senate Republicans who initiated the recommended dismissals a few weeks ago. It's not often that lawmakers get the chance to actually reduce the size of government by ending positions historically used to reward political allies of the majority party or a governor, said Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake. On the other side: "I wish we'd be more careful with our power," said Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford. "I have seen no reason why hearing the bill could not have waited until next week."
PANTHERS INCENTIVES A POLITICAL FOOTBALL: North Carolina lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday that would allow the city of Charlotte to use existing taxes – but no new ones – to upgrade Bank of America Stadium. The plan apparently would leave the city more than $30 million short of what it hoped to give the Carolina Panthers. “The bottom line is there’s no stomach here for a tax increase,” said Republican Rep. Ruth Samuelson of Charlotte, the bill’s lead sponsor. “Our hands are tied.”
DUKE ENERGY LEFT HOLDING DEMOCRATS BAG: Duke Energy won’t be repaid the $10 million line of credit it guaranteed for Charlotte to host last year’s Democratic National Convention, the company confirmed Thursday. As the credit line came due, Duke made official what it had signaled to shareholders in an earnings report last November. Because Duke can claim the money as a business expense for tax purposes, shareholders will foot $6 million of the cost. The DNC host committee struggled to raise money under fundraising rules set by the White House that banned corporate cash contributions. By last October, a month after the convention, it had raised $24.1 million of the original $36.6 million goal.
Some shareholders also objected. Concord stock owner Bonny Stilwell questioned Rogers, who led fundraising for the host committee, about the line of credit at an August 2011 meeting to vote on Duke’s merger with Progress Energy. “If it was something he wanted Duke Energy to do,” she said then, “it should have been his $10 million and not the shareholders’.” Duke spokesman David Scanzoni said the company heard from few shareholders. The $10 million took 1 cent off Duke’s 2012 earnings, when the nation’s biggest utility earned $1.7 billion.
GOODWIN FIGHTING AUTO INSURANCE BILL: A bill that would revamp the way North Carolina regulates auto insurance rates has surfaced again in the state legislature and is once more being opposed by Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. Supporters of the bill, including a number of major auto insurers, say the current regulatory landscape is outmoded and needs to be overhauled to increase competition. Goodwin counters that the current system works well and that if the measure becomes law it would enable insurers to raise rates virtually at will.