Under the Dome

Doonesbury pokes at North Carolina politics

Cartoonist Garry Trudeau teed off on North Carolina in his Sunday "Doonesbury" strip -- a massive take on the state's recent legislative upheaval.

The final window features a TV reporter saying: "North Carolina -- Where progress is a dirty word!" as a lawmaker character in a bow tie says, "Psst! Ask about our new tax cuts for 'job creators.'" See the whole strip here.

Morning Memo: Vice President Biden to raise money for Kay Hagan

VICE PRESIDENT TO HEADLINE HAGAN FUNDRAISER: Vice President Joe Biden will visit North Carolina on Oct. 21 to help Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan raise campaign cash for her re-election bid in 2014. Biden will speak at a luncheon at the Washington Duke Inn in Durham, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by Dome.

The top ticket costs $10,000 and includes a photo and special host reception. The lowest priced ticket is $500 for the reception. The money will go to Hagan’s joint fundraising committee with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has higher donation limits.

A day earlier, Hagan will hold another fundraiser in Durham at the Deer Chase Gardens hosted by Marcia Angle and Mark Trustin, the property’s owners. The more than two-dozen hosts for the reception are paying $1,000 each. The top ticket is the maximum federal contribution to a candidate, $2,600. The host list includes big local Democratic donors, such as John Replogle, John Sall and Amy Tiemann. The minimum ticket costs $150.

***Read more about the 2014 Senate race and more below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Hood: Justice Department filed a "political lawsuit''

John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation, weighs in on the US Justice Department's decision to challenge to North Carolina's recent voter laws. In his column he calls it a "political lawsuit" that seems more designed to help Democratic turnout in the 2014 midterm elections.

"What’s the Obama administration trying to do?'' Hood writes.

"No, I’m not speculating about the president’s strategies for implementing his health care law or besting Congressional Republicans in budget battles. Today’s topic is closer to home: the decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to file a lawsuit alleging that North Carolina’s new election law violates the federal constitution and Voting Rights Act.

Chris Fitzsimon: Trying to understand the NC tea party

Chris Fitzsimon, who blogs with the liberal NC Policy Watch weighs in on the shutdown in Washington and the GOP convention that will be held next year at Harrah's at Cherokee.

"Just when you think things couldn’t get any more absurd in Washington, where a small group of radical tea partiers in Congress is holding the country hostage, North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows weighs in.

"Meadows has received some notoriety for drafting the letter that was signed by roughly 80 House members promising to oppose any effort to keep the government running that did not defund the Affordable Care Act—the law that was passed by Congress and signed by the president who was then handily reelected last year."

Carter Wrenn: Teacher raises may not buy GOP lawmakers love

Carter Wrenn, the veteran GOP strategist, writes that raising teacher salaries, won't necessarily by the Republican legislature love in his blog post Talking About Politics.

"After Democrats ran an ad in State House Districts, something akin to a shockwave rippled down the hallways of the General Assembly, unsettling the less stouthearted Republican legislators.

"Last fall, after the last election House Republicans, riding high, assumed, We won. People love us. We can do what we want. They did. Then their poll numbers dropped. Then that ad hit. Then a cry went up from the unsettled, If we just give teachers raises – people will love us again.

"But are pay raises actually the reason for House Republicans’ shrinking poll numbers?"

Read the entire post here.

Cooper says he's planning to run for governor

From The Associated Press: North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said Saturday he’s planning to run for governor in 2016 and told Democratic Party activists that policies adopted this year by Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican legislative leaders have harmed the average state resident.

Cooper used his platform as a speaker at the state Democratic Party’s Western Gala in Asheville to attack Republicans, who with McCrory’s election last year controlled the state’s legislative and executive branches for the first time in more than a century.

Asked whether he planned to run for governor in three years, Cooper told the Asheville Citizen-Times: “It’s a little early to make a formal announcement, but certainly that’s in the plans.”

Pearce: Could be a costly nap for Holding

Gary Pearce, the veteran Democratic strategist, weights in GOP Rep. George Holding's shut eye in his blog Talking About Politics.

"The government is shut down, so Congressman George Holding got some shuteye. On camera," Pearce said.

"At the moment one of his Republican colleagues declaimed, “It’s about time to do what’s right for the whole country,” the distinguished gentleman from North Carolina was catching a few winks. CSPAN’s camera caught him. Unfortunately for Holding, he was presiding over the House at the time.

"Now, I will not criticize Congressman Holding. I feel his pain. It was the House. It was a Republican congressman speaking. It was 3:36 pm. A lot of us need a mid-afternoon shot of caffeine. Read the entire post here.

Defense Department reviewing which civilian employees are covered by new law

Rep. Renee Ellmers, a Republican from Dunn, has been accusing President Barack Obama this week of ignoring a new law that guarantees military pay despite the shutdown.

About 7,000 civilian workers at Fort Bragg, in Ellmers’ district, reportedly have been furloughed.

Congress passed the Pay Our Military Act on Monday, and the president signed it into law. The measure was meant to make sure that soldiers would be paid without interruption.

“This was signed into law by President Obama and has been in effect since Monday, yet the president is refusing to enforce it. Therefore, these Fort Bragg furloughs should not be occurring,” Ellmers said in a statement. “Fort Bragg employees across my district are suffering because the president wants to inflict pain and play political games with people’s lives.”

State Board of Ed talks about "flat pathetic" teacher pay

State Board of Education member John Tate wants the board to back a resolution to bring teacher pay in the state to the national average.

Tate sprung his proposal on the board this week, calling teacher pay "flat pathetic." Teachers and state employees received one 1.2 percent raise in the last five years.

After years of concerted efforts to raise teacher to the national average, North Carolina was ranked 25th in 2008 by the National Education Association. The state has slipped since then, and is close to the bottom of national rankings.

"I feel like we have to send a message to our teachers as soon as possible," Tate said.

NC GOP fund raiser in DC victim of federal shutdown

Chalk up another casualty of the federal government shutdown, reports The Charlotte Observer's Jim Morrill. And this one will cost the North Carolina Republican Party.

The state party had scheduled an Oct. 9 fundraiser at The Capitol Hill Club, with guests paying up to $2,500. The event was to be headlined by GOP Sen. Richard Burr, the state's nine Republican House members and Gov. Pat McCrory.

Republican national Chairman Reince Priebus was expected to put in an appearance.

But Friday, with the shutdown in its fourth day and no end in sight, GOP leaders decided to postpone the event.

"MotorcycleVagina'' forum Monday — we are not making this up

What is undoubtedly, the first "MotorcycleVagina" forum will be held at Duke University on Monday. Or more properly, #MotorcycleVagina": The North Carolina Legislature's War on Women.

The panel discussion is being sponsored by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and will feature a panel of abortion choice supporters discussing the ramifications of the anti-abortion legislation passed earlier this year by the legislature.

The anti-abortion legislation was attached to a motorcycle bill in the Senate — hence the name.

The forum will held Monday at 12:15 p.m. in room 3037 of the Duke Law School.

Those scheduled to speak are Alison Kiser, director of affairs, Planned Parenthood of NC; Sarah Preston, policy director, ACLU of NC., Suzanne Buckley of NARAL Pro-Choice NC, and Jedediah Purdy, Duke law professor.

Renee Ellmers retreats, says she'll decline her congressional salary

Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers said Friday she would decline her $174,000 congressional salary amid the federal government shutdown, reversing course after facing intense pressure.

Ellmers sent a letter to House officials asking for her pay to be withheld, saying in a statement she would “stand with all federal workers.”

Two days earlier, the Dunn lawmaker refused to decline her paycheck like many of her Republican and Democratic colleagues during the shutdown, telling a Raleigh TV station, “I need my paycheck. That is the bottom line.”

The remark generated a firestorm and calls of hypocrisy given that 800,000 federal workers are being furloughed without pay because of the budget impasse in Congress.

Ellmers begin backtracking Friday morning. Read more here.

Quick to leave DPI

Angela Quick is leaving her job as deputy chief academic officer at the state Department of Public Instruction to become a vice president at N.C. New Schools.

Quick has been with DPI since 2008 and as spent untold hours talking about school accountability, testing and curriculum development at State Board of Education meetings.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said Quick "has been extraordinary in her service" and is "respected among her colleagues throughout North Carolina."

Quick attended her last board meeting Thursday, leaving a void in future agendas for explanations of Bloom's Taxonomy, Moodle, and computer adaptive testing.

Harris is attempting to become a rare clergy/senator

If Charlotte Pastor Mark Harris is elected to the U.S. Senate next year, he will be a rare example of a member of the clergy be elected to the nation's upper chamber, according to Smart Politics blog.

Since the direct election of senators began 100 years ago, only three members of the clergy have been elected. They were Ohio Republican John Bricker (US Army Chaplain, elected 1946 and 1952), Missouri Republican John Danforth (Episcopal priest, 1976, 1982, 1988) and Arkansas Republican Tim Hutchinson (Southern Baptist pastor, 1996). Arkansas Democrat Kaneaster Hodges (Methodist, 1977) was appointed to the Senate.

Unlike Bricker, Danforth, and Hutchinson, Harris is launching a Senate bid without having previously held a political office, according to Smart Politics.

Ellmers won't give back pay but may defer next month's check

UPDATE: Renee Ellmers reversed course and will decline her salary during shutdown. Read the latest here.

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers said she is willing to consider deferring her next congressional pay check but won't give back her October pay like many of her colleagues amid the government shutdown.

Ellmers softened her stance Friday during a CNN interview. The Dunn Republican is drawing fire for saying "I need my paycheck" at a time when hundreds of thousands of federal workers are being furloughed without pay under the partial government shutdown.

Asked about the remark on CNN, Ellmers said her October paycheck was in her bank account when the shutdown took effect, Oct. 1. If it persists, Ellmers said she will have another option in November. "I may do it at that point," she said.

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