Dispatches from the campaign trail, March 12, 2014

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• The 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary is getting interesting, as Democratic consultant Brad Crone (who’s not working for a candidate in this race) questions Clay Aiken’s commitment and relevant experience. Meantime, former Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco releases his latest campaign ad, focusing on economic development. Link here.

• Two Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls — House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, and Dr. Greg Brannon — have been lining up endorsements from elected officials. The Rev. Mark Harris has joined the party, securing the support of state Sens. Warren Daniels, Buck Newton, and Dan Soucek.

• The Democratic Public Policy Polling firm is spinning its latest survey of the U.S. Senate field as bad news for Tillis, whose lead over Brannon and Harris has evaporated (PDF), and noting that the race to defeat incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan “looks like a toss up.” Not so fast? Hagan is within 2 percentage points of all eight contenders, defeating three, tying three, and losing to Ted Alexander (by 2 points) and Jim Snyder (by 1 point). More than 70 percent of those surveyed have “no opinion” of seven of those candidates who are tied statistically with the incumbent, and 46 percent have “no opinion” of Tillis.

• Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr. is running for the 6th Congressional District seat held by the retiring Rep. Howard Coble, and he’s chosen his preferred successor as DA — Assistant District Attorney Melanie Bridge, who’s worked in the office since 2005 and is running for the top job.

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