Dispatches from the campaign trail, Jan. 15, 2014

• Gov. Pat McCrory defended his decision to schedule a special election Nov. 6 for the 12th Congressional District vacancy to Democratic Reps. G.K. Butterfield (1st District) and David Price (4th District). Former Rep. Mel Watt resigned to head a federal financial agency. The state NAACP said if McCrory doesn’t change his mind and schedule an election earlier, it may sue.

• State Rep. Alma Adams, D-Guilford, announced she would not seek re-election for her legislative seat and focus on winning the Democratic primary to succeed Watt in the 12th District.

• A profile of another contender for the 12th District, Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford, notes that Brandon does not shy from his sexual orientation. If he won the election, Brandon would become the only openly gay U.S. House member from the South.

• For the second time this month, House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, skipped a forum for candidates seeking the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

• Meantime, a new survey by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found Tillis beginning to open a lead against his Republican rivals. Tillis received a favorable rating by 19 percent of respondents; Dr. Greg Brannon and Heather Grant each had 11-percent favorability. Voter disappoval of Hagan continues to slip, as she’s 10 points underwater: 39 percent favorable, 49 percent unfavorable. The numbers are much worse among independents: 30 percent favorable, 56 percent unfavorable. PPP still considers the race a toss-up.

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