by Rick Henderson
Editor-in-Chief, Carolina Journal
• The big news of the week: Another resignation from Gov. Pat McCrory’s Cabinet. A week after Transportation Secretary Tony Tata resigned abruptly, Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos has ended a shaky tenure at the massive state agency. Wos, a physician, and her husband Louis DeJoy are major political donors and philanthropists. Her successor is former health care CEO Rick Brajer.
• The other top story: Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr may finally have a Democratic opponent. Two-term state Rep. Duane Hall, D-Wake, has expressed interest in running against Burr next year. State Democrats continue insisting that Burr is vulnerable but they have been unable to attract a top-drawer challenger.
• But wait. There’s more. McCrory’s likely Democratic opponent for governor in 2016, five-term Attorney General Roy Cooper, raised nearly $1 million more than the governor in the first six months of 2015 and has $600,000 more cash on hand. It’s early, of course, but Cooper is in much better shape at this stage of the race than was former Gov. Bev Perdue during the 2012 cycle.
• Meantime, Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore collectively have more than $1.1 million in the bank and most Council of State incumbents are in good shape financially for the 2016 race. One who’s been very quiet: Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, who has raised no money this year and has only $7,000 cash on hand. The Democrat hasn’t announced her re-election plans.
• Will they or won’t they? House leaders put forward a $4.1 billion package of bond measures and infrastructure spending proposals earlier this week, but it’s far from clear the Senate will allow the bond package on the November ballot. Senate leaders have expressed some interest in a modest borrowing package for building repairs but not highway construction and little desire to place if before voters until 2016.