ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS DID HAVE CONVERSATION ABOUT TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR: Ambassador Sergey Kislyak's accounts of two conversations with Sessions - then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump - were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign. "I did not have communications with the Russians," Sessions said when asked whether anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign had communicated with representatives of the Russian government.
CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS SEEK TO PUNISH DEMOCRATIC STATES WITH TAX HIKES: Republicans aren't usually big on raising taxes, but they're really eager to eliminate the federal deduction for state and local taxes. Why? A look at the states that benefit the most from the tax break helps explain it — they are all Democratic strongholds. New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and California top the list of states where taxpayers get the biggest deductions. Not a single Republican-leaning state ranks in the top 10. "Although Republicans usually recoil at any type of tax increase, cutting this tax break would almost be fun for them," said Martin Sullivan, chief economist for Tax Analysts. "It provides massively disproportionate deductions to high-tax states controlled by Democrats."
FAYETTEVILLE CITY COUNCIL RACES ATTRACT 40 CANDIDATES TO FILE: “With 40 candidates filing, this will be a banner year for city politics,” says George Breece, a longtime political observer. “I don’t ever remember this many candidates filing to run in city elections.” Mayor Nat Robertson, a two-termer, is being challenged by Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Colvin of District 3; District 2 Councilman Kirk deViere; and dark horse Quancidine Gribble. Incumbent Kathy Jensen has two challengers in District 1; 10 residents are after deViere’s District 2 seat; three will bid for Colvin’s District 3 seat; D.J. Haire is running against incumbent Chalmers McDougald for his old District 4 seat; six candidates, including former councilmen Johnny Dawkins and Paul Williams, are bidding for the District 5 seat being vacated by Bobby Hurst; longtime incumbent Bill Crisp in District 6 has three opponents; incumbent Larry Wright in District 7 has three challengers; and incumbent Ted Mohn has a rival in District 8.
38 CANDIDATES THROW THEIR HAT IN THE RING FOR GREENSBORO CITY COUNCIL: Thirty-eight residents are running for nine seats on the Greensboro City Council. That shows keen interest in local government, high civic engagement and a strong desire to build a better community. It also indicates that 38 people think their chances of winninig are as good as anyone else’s — demonstrating real confidence that Greensboro has a fair municipal election system. That’s unusual. Here in Guilford County, elections for state legislative seats, the school board and the county commissioners draw far fewer candidates. Most of the current commissioners were elected without opposition. There may be various reasons, but one is that the school board, commissioner and legislative districts are all products of partisan gerrymandering. Greensboro districts are not.
SOME COASTAL TOWNS FACING EMPTY SEATS FOR LACK OF CANDIDATES: The region’s municipal elections will feature at least a handful of elections that didn’t attract enough candidates to fill the ballot. Two races in Brunswick County, Bolivia Board of Aldermen and Calabash commissioners, will have fewer candidates on the ballot than there are open seats. Sara Knotts, the county’s elections director, said lines for write-in candidates will be available on the ballot in those communities. While Bolivia did not attract enough candidates for alderman, Mayor Ella Jane Marston has an opponent -- Edward McKeithan. Calabash attracted just one candidate, Joseph (Jody) Nance, for three seats. The Wilmington City Council race is crowded, as nine people -- including incumbents Kevin O’Grady and Charlie Rivenbark -- have filed for three seats. One of those is the seat being vacated by Councilman Earl Sheridan, who decided not to seek re-election.