Dispatches from the campaign trail, March 7, 2014

• We send our condolences to the family and loved ones of state Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt. The Buncombe County Democrat, who had served in the General Assembly since 1979, passed away Thursday after a brief battle with stomach cancer.

• House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, released the latest campaign ad supporting his bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Kay Hagan. The biographical spot mentions his first job.

• At a Thursday forum featuring five of the eight GOP Senate hopefuls (but not Tillis), all of them backed economic sanctions against Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. For some, military options should be on the table as well.

• Via Twitter, the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners notes that only one of the 25 former county commissioners now serving in the General Assembly is not seeking re-election in November. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, announced her retirement from the General Assembly last year.

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