Reports: Pat McCrory preparing to launch U.S. Senate bid

Former North Carolina Republican governor Pat McCrory may jump into the 2022 U.S. Senate race as early as this week, according to Politico.

Former Congressman Mark Walker (R) became the first Republican last December to declare a run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Burr (R).

McCrory is expected to make an announcement about his future plans Wednesday on his Charlotte radio show.

Here’s more from Politico reporter James Arkin:

McCrory has been expected to run for Senate for months, but he has not publicly indicated that a decision was finalized. He’s expected to formally launch the campaign this week and has been assembling a state and national team for the campaign, according to a source familiar with his plans.

North Carolina is expected to be one of the most expensive races in the country next year and is a key state for Republicans to hold as they aim to win back the Senate majority from Democrats, who control the chamber 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking ties.

Former Rep. Mark Walker is the only major Republican candidate in the race so far and has been consolidating endorsements since launching his campaign in December. Rep. Ted Budd is also seriously considering a bid. Lara Trump, former President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law and campaign adviser, has said she is considering running in her native North Carolina but has not yet taken any public steps toward launching a campaign.

Recent polling conducted for McCrory shows he would enter the race with a large lead over Walker and Budd, as well as extremely high name identification among likely Republican primary voters, according to a copy of the polling memo obtained by POLITICO. His high name ID and an early lead in a hypothetical primary matchup are not surprising given his past statewide campaigns and one term as the state’s governor, while neither of the potential opponents has run statewide before.

The survey was conducted by Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies, and the memo was addressed to McCrory and Paul Shumaker, a veteran Republican operative in the state who has worked with Burr and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Shumaker declined to comment Monday morning.

The memo said McCrory was viewed favorably by 58 percent of likely primary voters and unfavorably by 13 percent. Walker was viewed favorably by 20 percent of GOP voters and unfavorably by 4 percent; Budd was viewed favorably by 16 percent and unfavorably by 5 percent.

McCrory led with nearly half the vote in a hypothetical three-way matchup: 48 percent, compared to 13 percent for Walker and 9 percent for Budd. He also led both in one-on-one matchups. The polling memo did not include Lara Trump.

Read the full story on Politico.

A Meredith College poll of nearly 700 North Carolina voters conducted in March found most voters understandably undecided about the open Senate seat in 2022, with name recognition helping Lara Trump earn 27% of the vote. McCrory held 16.6% of the potential vote in that poll.

Republican Congressman Ted Budd (NC-13) is also exploring his options for higher office.

Source: Meredith College poll

Vaccinations open to all North Carolina adults on Wednesday, supply may soon exceed demand

North Carolinians stymied by the lack of COVID vaccines a few weeks ago will soon find that’s no longer a problem.

Starting this Wednesday the vaccine will be available to anyone 16 years and older who wants to get vaccinated.

So far 5.2 million vaccines have been administered across our state with 39% of all adults now partially vaccinated, and 26% of adults fully vaccinated.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen

Hospitalization numbers and the percent of positive COVID tests have been level over the past few weeks, but every day matters moving forward, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen.

“We are making positive progress, but our work is not done yet,” said Cohen in Tuesday’s press briefing.

Dr. Cohen noted that new cases are cropping up in younger people, who are less vaccinated at this point.

“This virus is circulating among those that are not vaccinated, and that’s why we need to make sure we are keeping up our guard,” Cohen cautioned.

“Remember not only is this virus still circulating, but we are seeing changes in the virus itself, that makes it more contagious.”

Plenty of supply

Governor Roy Cooper also acknowledged that the the state may soon be at a point where the availability of Pfizer, Moderna and the Johnson& Johnson vaccines exceeds the demand in the some parts of the state.

Gov. Roy Cooper

“Family doctors, ministers, public figures, friends and family members all need to play a role in getting as many people vaccinated as possible,” Cooper said. “We’re going to have plenty of supply. And we need to continue to push up the demand to get as many people vaccinated as possible”

Click here to find a vaccine location.

The push to vaccinate more North Carolinians comes as President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that every American adult will be eligible to be vaccinated by April 19th.

That’s about two weeks ahead of the previously announced deadline of May 1st.

Vaccine passports still under review

On the issue of vaccine passports – digital proof of vaccination – the governor said the issue is still being reviewed by his administration.

“We are obviously collecting information about people’s vaccinations, so we can track to make sure they got their first shot and their second shot,” said Sec. Cohen.

“We just want to make sure people can access their own information, about that vaccine for whatever purpose they may need. So we are looking at different IT solutions to make that as easy as possible.”

The governors of Florida and Texas have moved to ban such passports, preventing businesses from requiring their customers to show proof of vaccination.

Progress in slowing the spread of COVID: None of North Carolina’s counties are currently red. There are now 21 orange counties, 47 yellow counties, 31 light yellow counties, and 1 green county. In comparison, the previous report posted March 18, 2021 showed1 red county, 17 orange counties, and 82 yellow counties. (Source: DHHS)

Leading Muslim civil rights organization condemns NC Congressman for Islamophobic tweet

Congressman Greg Murphy (R-NC)

North Carolina Congressman Greg Murphy (R-NC) is drawing criticism for invoking the 9/11 terror attacks in a weekend tweet targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

The incident happened over the weekend when Rep. Omar took to social media to offer condolences following the death of a Capitol Police officer, who was killed  when a driver rammed a vehicle into a barricade outside the Capitol on Friday.

Rep. Omar tweeted: “Heartbroken to learn another CP was killed while protecting the Capitol. My thoughts and prayers go out to the officer’s family and the entire Capitol Police force. The death toll would have been worse if the assailant had an AR-15 instead of a knife.”

Murphy, who represents North Carolina’s third congressional district, responded: “Would have been worse @Ilhan if they had been flying planes into the buildings also.”

Rep. Murphy has since deleted his tweet, which can be seen in the screen grab below.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called Rep. Murphy’s response bigoted and Islamophobic.

Here’s the full statement from CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert S. McCaw:

“CAIR strongly condemns Representative Murphy for invoking the September 11th terror attacks while insulting a member of Congress who is Muslim. It is disrespectful to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, to their families and to the countless Muslim and other minority hate crime victims who were targeted in the wake of 9/11. His bigoted comments only serve to perpetuate the climate of hate that we are witnessing nationwide.

“One may disagree with a colleague without resorting to racism, Islamophobia or any other form of bigotry. We hope Representative Murphy’s Republican colleagues will condemn this Islamophobic attack and not just look the other way as they did when Muslim members of Congress were attack similarly in the past.”

CAIR is the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization with a mission to enhance the understanding of Islam and empower American Muslims.

Cooper extends eviction moratorium through June

Governor Roy Cooper has extended North Carolina’s statewide residential eviction moratorium through June 30th, bringing the state in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recent extension of a nationwide moratorium.

“Even though North Carolina is turning the corner on this pandemic, many are still struggling,” said Gov. Cooper, in a statement released late Tuesday.

The State’s eviction moratorium halts evictions for nonpayment of rent, putting in place certain procedures for landlords and tenants who may qualify for protection from eviction.

Health experts say the moratorium is a critical tool to curb homelessness and prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

To offset the losses, the Cooper administration created the HOPE Program, making direct payments to landlords. To date, that program has awarded over $140 million to nearly 37,000 applicants.

Read Cooper’s order halting evictions here.

A second order (Executive Order 207) expedites the processing of unemployment insurance claims and is also effective through June 30, 2021.

Sen. Tillis to undergo surgery for prostate cancer

Senator Thom Tillis revealed Monday that he will undergo surgery next week following a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

North Carolina’s junior senator says the cancer was detected early and he expects to make a full recovery.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in American men with about 248,530 new cases diagnosed each year, according to the American Cancer Society.

The 60-year-old Republican notes that he was ‘blessed’ to have had the cancer show up in a routine screening.

Annual physical exams are just one of the preventive benefits covered under the Affordable Care Act.

Read Senator Tillis’ full statement on his health below: