When a dozen college students protested at the headquarters of the North Carolina HBA in Raleigh last July, the action was portrayed as a broad protest against the builder trade group and other powerful business lobbies. Follow-up interviews revealed that the protest was ignited by a successful HBA lobbying campaign to defeat a measure that would have allowed public financing of local elections. The measure passed the state Senate in 2003, but was killed in a House committee this year. If passed, a public financing option would have been available to counties with more than 80,000 people and cities with a population of more than 40,000. Proponents claim the measure would level the playing field, while opponents, led by the HBA, say public financing is a smoke screen to elect anti-growth candidates.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Raleigh, NC.