Dispatches from the campaign trail, January 31, 2014

• From the “it’s never too early to run” or “perpetual campaign” files, Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper has released what appears to be his first campaign ad … for the 2016 governor’s race. Vowing to “stop” the “Tea Party Republicans” and “take back North Carolina,” Cooper says he’s building an organization. You can guess what’s up.

• Political historian and number-cruncher Michael Barone looks at President Obama’s state-by-state approval ratings and finds a 8-point drop in North Carolina since the 2012 election. Since Obama didn’t win North Carolina’s electoral votes, Barone says this is troubling news for Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s re-election bid.

• Speaking of the Senate race, Winston-Salem talk-show host Bill Flynn, a Republican, became the first potential candidate to remove himself from consideration. Flynn’s campaign manager quit earlier in the week. Meantime, three of the active Senate candidates — Greg Brannon, Heather Grant, and Mark Harris — participated in a forum near Charlotte Thursday night.

• New Hanover County Commissioner Woody White, who’s running for the 7th U.S. Congressional District Republican nomination, is holding a fundraiser tonight featuring, along with local political figures, Wilmington native and former Boston Red Sox star Trot Nixon.

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