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Conservative groups call for action at Legislature

A coalition of conservative groups headed to the Legislative Building to tell lawmakers they are disappointed with their work.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole said Wednesday that North Carolina conservatives must redouble their efforts if they hope to see Republicans in office on both the federal and state level come next year.

"Democrats have had an advantage in fundraising," Dole said. "They've been able to bring more people out to meetings ... If that keeps going that way, it will be big for them in November."

Dole joined other Republican politicians and several hundred conservative voters at a rally behind the Legislative Building to call on state lawmakers to consider their proposals that have been largely bottled up by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.

Americans for Prosperity, which sponsored the "Take Back Our State" rally, toted an oversized mobile pig sculpture to dramatize what Republicans described as pork in state spending.

Speakers called on legislators to cut taxes and invest more in education through tax credits and the creation of more charter schools.

But many of the politicians, themselves current candidates, also touched on a different subject: Election Day.

Many current state officials are out of touch with issues that are important to North Carolinians, said GOP gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory, the mayor of Charlotte.

"We've had a state government that doesn't understand that you've got to get out among the people and see what the problems are in the towns and cities throughout North Carolina," McCrory said. "We need to get outside the Beltline (Raleigh's inner loop) here and find out the impact of taxes, the impact of crime, the impact of the lack of jobs."

Former state Sen. Robert Pittinger, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, said the state's economy is damaged by Democratic control.

He pointed to the state's comparatively high tax structure and job losses as evidence that change is needed.

"They're pricing our state out of business," Pittinger said.

But with the legislative session in its waning weeks, Greensboro resident Neal Jurney said he doesn't think tax cuts – or any bill on the top of state conservatives' agenda – will be approved.

He said unless conservative voters oust Democratic leaders and take over outgoing Gov. Mike Easley's office, they won't see any changes.

"I feel like the state has been robbed from the people of North Carolina," Jurney said.



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