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ISIS and the cocktail party

ISIS and the cocktail party

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan’s admission last week that she missed a Senate hearing for a Manhattan fundraiser not only gave Republican Thom Tillis a new talking point but gave his allies new ad fodder.

Two new ads, one by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the other by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS super PAC, went up Friday. Tillis’ own ad, featuring pictures of terrorists as well as a cocktail glass, began Thursday.

Tillis has attacked Hagan for missing half of the meetings of the Armed Services Committee over two years. She’s not the only incumbent whose attendance has become an issue.

Republicans have lobbed similar criticism at Democratic U.S. Sens. Mark Udall of Colorado and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

But last Tuesday, Hagan acknowledged that she missed a February hearing on terrorist threats to attend the Park Avenue fundraiser.

It didn’t take Tillis and his allies long to jump.

The NRSC ad is part of a $3.9 million buy that started last month. The ad features a picture of Hagan next to an image of champagne flowing into a flute.

Crossroads’ ad shows pictures of militant Islamic fighters, including the one who beheaded two Americans. It’s part of a $5.1 million buy that started this month.

“They do smell blood in the water,” said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the Cook Political Report. “It’s kind of the first break Tillis has got, probably since winning the primary.”

Meanwhile, Hagan released an ad in response. It touts her “98 percent voting attendance record” on Armed Services. And it calls Tillis a hypocrite for missing legislative votes in the state House this summer to raise money out of state.

Her campaign says she voted on 57 of 58 votes over six years. Meeting attendance itself is different.

All the ads come as recent polls suggest a narrowing race.

Republicans “think this is finally the thing that will gain traction, or they’re getting to a point of desperation and slinging anything,” said Michael Bitzer, a Catawba College political scientist. Jim Morrill

Didn’t see the debate? You’re not alone

What if they held a debate and nobody watched?

That may have happened in much of North Carolina last week with the third debate between Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis, this one featuring Libertarian Sean Haugh.

The debate took place at Wilmington’s WECT TV. Station officials said it would be offered to NBC affiliates. But affiliates in the state’s two biggest markets didn’t pick it up.

Ron Bilek, interim news director for Charlotte’s NBC affiliate, WCNC, said station officials weren’t aware it was being offered. Jim Morrill

Pittenger gets ‘A’ in attendance

Kay Hagan’s attendance record at meetings of the Armed Services Committee has become an issue in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race. But one North Carolina congressman can brag about his attendance.

After looking at the minutes of 1,000 committee and subcommittee hearings of the current Congress, The Washington Examiner found U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger had one of the top five attendance records in the House.

The Charlotte Republican serves on the Financial Services Committee and two subcommittees. He also chairs the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.

“Committee meetings are often tedious, but they are where much of the real work of creating and refining legislation takes place,” Pittenger said in a statement.

2016 race is on for N.C. attorney general

State Sen. Josh Stein of Raleigh was in Charlotte last week giving Democrats a preview of his likely 2016 campaign for attorney general.

Stein, a former assistant attorney general, plans to run for the office Democrat Roy Cooper is expected to vacate to run for governor. Speaking to the Uptown Democratic Forum, Stein sounded like a gubernatorial candidate himself, railing against Republican legislative leaders or, as he called them, “the tea party folks in Raleigh.”

Stein is a lawyer with Charlotte connections.

His father, Adam Stein, was a founding partner of Charlotte law firm then known as Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, Gresham & Sumter, and worked here for years before moving to Chapel Hill when his son was 5. The firm included civil rights lawyers such as Julius Chambers, James Ferguson and former U.S. Rep. Mel Watt. Jim Morrill

The elephant in the room

Sen. Josh Stein preached to a partisan choir when he spoke to Uptown Democrats last week. But there was a Republican in the audience.

Sen. Jeff Tarte of Cornelius came to hear his Democratic colleague. And he heard him play to the audience by accusing Republicans of slashing education, suppressing votes and helping the rich while hurting the middle class.

Tarte seemed to take it all in stride.

“I don’t mind the environment at all,” he said. “I’m totally comfortable. That’s part of working together.”

Besides, he added, “It’s the silly season.” Jim Morrill

At least it didn’t say ‘Charleston’

To all the pundits searching for political significance in Bill and Hillary Clinton’s first grandchild, add one more: Time magazine.

Time noted the birth of Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky and tried to find meaning in the name, particularly with her grandmother expected to run for president. If only it could figure out the geography.

“So yes we know that Charlotte is the capitol of a swing state, and no, we have no clue what Charlotte means for 2016,” the magazine said. “Who cares? Babies are cute.” Jim Morrill