1. More than 21 hours after it started, Sen. Ted Cruz's marathon speech against Obamacare came to a close without making any immediate legislative impact.

    In Wednesday's Capital Tonight, we looked at how the political aftermath is shaping up.

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  2. (Aired 9/23/13/2013 on Time Warner Cable News North Carolina, formerly News 14 Carolina)

    WASHINGTON -- The Raleigh-based software company Red Hat released its second quarter earnings Monday. The company reported a 17 percent earnings increase and a second quarter profit of $41 million. The positive news comes as Red Hat -- like other big tech companies -- is increasing its presence and political clout on Capitol Hill. Our Washington reporter Geoff Bennett has the story:

    It’s not just Silicon Valley tech giants like Google and Facebook that boast growing government influence. So, too, does Red Hat -- the North Carolina born-and-bred software company. Red Hat provides a type of computer software known as open source, which is developed by communities of engineers and licensed for distribution.

    As Red Hat’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Global Public Policy, Mark Bohannon represents the company’s interests before policy makers in Washington, D.C. and around the world.

    Bohannon is based in Red Hat’s satellite office in northern Virginia.

    “While I am in Washington, I work with governments around the world to educate about open source,” Bohannon said. “There are still some voices out there that keep raising fear, uncertainty and doubt about open source. So a good portion of my job is really educating that open source has now been widely accepted.”

    The software has been so widely accepted that Red Hat now pulls in more than a billion dollars in annual revenue. With such a large share of the market, Red Hat has a vested interest in policy debates around tax law, immigration and cyber security.

    “These businesses have a huge stake in ensuring that it happens in a way that doesn’t prohibit their business models and hurt their bottom line,” said Washington-based technology reporter Eliza Krigman.

    “The good news,” said Bohannon, “is we are not a heavily regulated company or industry … but we do need to make sure that the open source model continues to thrive and be innovative and to also make sure that our competitors are not doing things to hurt us.”

    For Red Hat, that includes increasing litigation over software patents.

    “There’s concern about what’s known as ‘patent trolls,’ said Krigman. “[Those are] people who file for patents not because they have an innovation they want to protect but because they are looking for some legal standing that they can sue to make money off of.”

    “I spend a great deal of my time working with our teams in Raleigh on how we can improve our patent litigation system, which right now is out of control,” said Bohannon. “So we’re working to try to get some legislation and other changes that will make litigation abuse go down.”

    According to the nonpartisan research group Center for Responsive Politics, Red Hat spent $120,000 last year to have an outside firm lobby lawmakers on issues such as patent reform and intellectual property.

    The Cary-based software company SAS Institute spent $370,000 on its lobbying efforts.

    While the expenditures represent fractions of the companies’ overall revenue, it’s the cost of doing business in Washington as North Carolina becomes more established as a major tech hub.

    "I think North Carolina is recognized in Washington as a key center of interesting technology innovation,” said Bohannon. "Obviously, when many think about technology, they think about Silicon Valley or Route 128 in Boston or Austin. But North Carolina is clearly part of that sentence when people think about key technology areas that are driving our nation’s economic growth and innovation.”

    Link: centralnc.twcnews.com/content/news/699762/nc-tech-companies-boosting-their-clout-in-washington

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  3. WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Reverend Mark Harris is a newcomer to politics, but he already sounds like a seasoned veteran.

    In a written statement, he told News 14 of his planned Senate run:

    “Mrs. Hagan and I will offer a clear contrast. There will be a contrast in beliefs, in actions, and in ideals. North Carolina voters will have two distinct choices in the election of 2014—continued decay and government control, or the rebuilding of our nation into the great nation, which I and many others believe it can become.”

    Harris will formally announce his run next month. He’s tapped former Congressman Robin Hayes to co-chair his campaign.

    He joins a Republican field, which already includes state House Speaker Thom Tillis and two other candidates. State Senate leader Phil Berger is expected to soon announce whether he’ll run.

    National Republican groups, including the GOP super PAC American Crossroads, are also trying to put Hagan on the defensive.

    “Kay Hagan has amassed a voting record far to the left of North Carolina, far to the left of the constituencies that she represents. A strong Republican challenger,” Jonathan Collegio of American Crossroads said. “What we’re looking for is the most conservative candidate who can also win the election. We think that any of these candidates in the field thus far fits that characteristic, and we’re looking forward to knocking her out in 2014.

    At the moment, Hagan’s supporters don’t seem too anxious about the developments on the Republican side. They point to what they call Hagan’s moderate record and demographic shifts in the state, they say, work in Democrats’ favor.

    And a poll out this week from the Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling shows Hagan leading her closest potential challenger by double digits.

    A race that will likely tighten, say political watchers, once the GOP settles on a candidate.

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  4. The nation's unemployment rate dipped to 7.3 percent in August from 7.4 percent in July, according to the Labor Department's monthly jobs report, which was released Friday. Washington bureau reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report for NY1.

    The U.S. economy added 169,000 jobs last month, an improvement over July's report but still falling just short of economists' expectations.

    Newly minted Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, sworn into office on Wednesday, put a positive spin on the numbers.

    "The economy continues to grow in a slow and steady pace," Perez said. "Over the last year, 2.3 million jobs have been created. Forty-two consecutive months of private-sector job growth, to the tune of 7.5 million jobs."

    The unemployment rate fell largely because more than 300,000 people stopped looking for work. The number of Americans who participate in the labor force is now at its lowest rate since August 1978.

    "We have to pick up the pace," Perez said. "The president would be the first to say that we have to pick up the pace. And that is why, that's what his better bargain for the middle class does, investing in infrastructure, roads, investing in human capital, making sure our classrooms don't have 40 students per teacher."

    Much of last month's hiring was in low-paying retail and food service work. Restaurants and bars added 21,000 jobs. Retailers added 44,000 jobs. It's cause for concern about the quality of the new jobs being created.

    Perez said that the economic recovery is broad-based.

    "If you look at professional services, it's moving in a very good direction," he said. "If you look at the health sector, that's moving in a very good direction."

    Many economists have said that a strong August jobs report would have allowed the Federal Reserve to ease its economic stimulus program, but these numbers are likely giving policy makers second thoughts.

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  5. Senators in our nation's capital started an effort Wednesday to update the Voting Rights Act. The effort started with hearings to address the Supreme Court's recent decision, striking down part of the landmark law. Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Geoff Bennett has the story.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon, opened the Senate hearing with a personal testimony, reflecting on the decades long effort to secure and preserve the right to vote. And he urged Congress to restore the law in a timely, nonpartisan way.

    Lewis said, "It is the duty and the responsibility of Congress to restore the life and soul of the Voting Rights Act. And we must do it. And we must do it now.”

    In 1965, Lewis marched into history after enduring beatings by Alabama state troopers while trying to register black voters. That day became known as Bloody Sunday and Lewis says it’s a reminder of what's at stake.
    In its decision last month, the Supreme Court invalidated a formula in the Voting Rights Act that is used to figure out which jurisdictions have to get advance clearance from the federal government before making changes to voting rules. The Court left it up to a gridlocked Congress to come up with a new formula.

    In a sign of bipartisan unity, Lewis, a Democrat, was joined by Republican Congressman John Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. Sensenbrenner guided the overwhelming reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act through Congress in 2006. He outlined the current obstacles.

    Sensenbrenner said, "Congress is now presented with a challenge and an historic opportunity. Our sacred Constitution guarantees that an American citizen cannot be kept from exercising his or her God given right to vote because of race or color. Though the Voting Rights Act has been enormously successful, we know our work is not yet complete."

    After the hearing, Lewis said he's confident that Congress will craft a new Voting Rights Act.
    “We will do it. Because it's the right thing to do. As I said before, the vote is precious. Almost sacred. People gave a little blood. Some people gave their very lives for the right to participate in a democratic process,” Lewis said.

    - See more at: binghamton.ynn.com/content/politics/673736/lawmakers-begin-talks-over-voting-rights-act/#sthash.K0q2RQro.dpuf

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Geoff Bennett

Geoff Bennett Plus

Geoff Bennett joined the Time Warner Cable News and Local Programming group in June of 2013 as a political reporter for the Washington, D.C. bureau.

Bennett was previously editor of NPR's "Weekend Edition,” responsible for shaping the content and scope…


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Geoff Bennett joined the Time Warner Cable News and Local Programming group in June of 2013 as a political reporter for the Washington, D.C. bureau.

Bennett was previously editor of NPR's "Weekend Edition,” responsible for shaping the content and scope of the nationally broadcast, two-hour morning news magazine. Based in Los Angeles from 2007 to 2009, he was a producer and editor of NPR’s "News & Notes," a daily news and public affairs talk show. In that role, he successfully conceived and implemented a social and digital media strategy aimed at growing the program’s audience.

Before heading west, Bennett reported on the entertainment business for AOL Television based in New York City. He began his journalism career as a production assistant and off-air reporter for ABC News’ "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings." He later joined ABCNews.com, where he managed the web presence of the network’s flagship newscast, “World News Tonight,” and the Brian Ross Investigative Unit.

In 2003, he was part of the team that launched what later became the TV network Current. He later co-founded a consulting firm that provides digital media business solutions.

Bennett is an honors graduate of Morehouse College.

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