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Two good reads are out today about groups coalescing around and pushing back against issues previously thought to rest securely in the conservative camp.

In “This is How the NRA Ends,” Alec MacGillis discusses how money and some very angry women are now poised to take down the not-so-formidable gun lobby:

At long last and against all expectations, a viable movement for gun regulation is emerging. It is a development that not only bodes ill for the gun lobby and its Republican patrons, but will also complicate matters for elements of the Democratic Party who have been content to accede to the status quo. The narrow defeat of the background-check bill, it turns out, was not the end of hopes for gun reform, but the beginning.

And in “What Democracy Lost in 2012,” Bob Moser argues that voters may be finally fed up with super-PAC spending in places like North Carolina:

Looking for a fresh way to counter the influence of big money, Jonathan Soros and two fellow finance reformers dreamt up their group, Friends of Democracy, as a kind of anti-super PAC super PAC. The idea was to show that money–soaked incumbents who oppose campaign–finance reform can be beaten by challengers who support reform. The conventional wisdom has always been that even if Americans loathe the influence of money on our politics, they won’t vote out their own member of Congress because of it. Hoping to prove that assumption wrong, Friends of Democracy raised $2.7 million to challenge eight House Republican incumbents and support progressives who championed election reform.

The results were stunning. In a year when Republicans fared well in House races, seven of the eight incumbents Friends of Democracy went after were toppled.

In a wretched year for democracy, Friends of Democracy’s success was one hopeful sign that maybe—maybe—Americans were ready to act on their frustrations with big-money politics and partisan electioneering.

Maybe someone else has already raised this — if so I apologize for missing it — but how come Walter Dalton doesn’t seem to rate an N&O icon?

In the online version of the “Under the Dome ” section of Raleigh’s News & Observer newspaper, numerous politicians have their own little cartoon likenesses.  Bev Perdue, Richard Burr, Kay Hagan, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney (complete with silver sideburns) have little caricature icons. Even Senate leader Phil Berger has one. Pat McCrory’s mug has appeared scores of times to accompany stories about him.

But for some reason, Lt. Governor Dalton doesn’t seem to have one. Maybe I missed it, but a search of dozens of posts mentioning Dalton failed to turn it up.

Anyway, it’s obviously not huge deal, but it does raise at least a small question about the N&O and the balance of its political coverage. Every time a reader goes to Under the Dome these days, he or she has a good chance of seeing Pat McCrory smiling back in what is at least a semi-flattering mug shot. But not so for his opponent, Walter Dalton– a man who’s been a fairly significant political figure for several years.

What gives, N&O?