Dispatches from the campaign trail, March 14, 2014

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• GOP U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Greg Brannon will have to pay former investors in his tech start-up company more than $450,000 unless a jury verdict against him is overturned on appeal. The settlement amount was determined by a judge this week. Brannon continues proclaiming his innocence and will keep fighting the fraud conviction even though the appeal process may extend past the May 6 Senate primary.

• Three days after she stayed away from a Democrat-led “all-nighter” on the Senate floor highlighting climate change, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan tweets that she was “proud to speak on the Senate floor” Thursday about the issue.

• Meantime, a Democratic polling firm working for a group that advocates building the Keystone pipeline confirms other recent polls finding Hagan in a statistical dead heat with GOP House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg.

• U.S. Senate candidate Ted Alexander, a Republican, comes up with a campaign product that can “heal the pain and suffering caused by Obamacare” (via Twitter).

• Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-2nd, drew national attention when she got into a heated discussion about immigration reform Thursday with conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham. Ellmers’ GOP rival in the primary, Frank Roche, has announced he will be on Ingraham’s syndicated radio program today.

• State Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, admitted he asked his Democratic opponent, former UNC-Asheville vice chancellor Brian Turner, to drop out of the race. Moffitt insisted his request was intended to protect Turner from mudslinging by independent expenditure groups during the campaign. Turner said Moffitt suggested he could make Turner the head of UNC Public Television (which Moffitt denies). Get the popcorn.

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