ALERT: PAT McCRORY'S APPROVAL RATING FALLS TO 39 PERCENT A new Public Policy Polling survey set for release later Thursday shows the Republican governor's approval rating dipping to the 30s for the first time in his term. It's a slight slip from a month earlier but indicates his approval rating is not improving as he signs controversial legislation on abortion, voter ID and guns. The Raleigh-based Democratic firm found McCrory's approval at 39 percent and disapproval at 51 percent. Another 10 percent are unsure. The numbers represent a huge point slide from when he took office in January with a 45 percent approval and 19 percent disapproval rating.
Another number in the poll suggests half of voters believe he broke his campaign pledge on abortion. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. Check Dome later today for more numbers.
NEW YORK TIMES A1 HEADLINE: North Carolinians fear the end of a middle way: The story rehashes the rightward shift from the legislative session and focuses on Pat McCrory's tough spot. Campbell Robertson writes: "In an interview, Mr. McCrory said that critics had obscured what he called a pragmatic and fiscally responsible agenda. “It’s a combination of people on the two extremes wanting to bring up and exaggerate controversial issues,” he said, adding that he had pushed back against earlier versions of the abortion and tax bills, and was planning to veto other bills this week." Read the full story here.
***The governor keeps threatening a veto. Find out the likely target below in the Dome Morning Memo. And get his thoughts on the voter ID bill.***
McCRORY GETTING PUSHED BY LEGISLATURE, anonymous sources tell Washington Post -- The governor's "allies" are trying to mediate the sharp-edged partisan image McCrory is developing by telling The Washington Post that he doesn't want to go down this path at all. From the story: "North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) is the most recent example. On Monday, he signed into law an extensive and divisive voter ID law that the Justice Department is looking to challenge, and two weeks ago, he signed a new abortion law that has also drawn the scorn of the left.
"Neither piece of legislation was on McCrory’s list of priorities, allies say. McCrory supported Voter ID during his 2012 campaign and the idea is broadly popular, but the state Senate attached numerous other measures to the bill that Democrats contend are aimed at suppressing minority and young voters and could prove more problematic for McCrory.
"In the case of the abortion law, McCrory actually threatened to veto the bill, having pledged in his 2012 campaign not to sign into law any further abortion restrictions. The legislature eventually changed the legislation to give the state health secretary the ability to write the new rules – with specific guidance.
"In the end, McCrory embraced both bills whole-heartedly and said they were the right thing to do. But McCrory allies say the governor would rather he didn’t have to deal with them.
“There have certainly been issues sent Gov. McCrory’s way that are not part of his agenda, and in some cases he has outright disagreed with policies that he worked to reshape and in some cases will veto,” said one ally, granted anonymity to offer a candid assessment."
McCRORY TO VETO DRUG TESTING BILL, ANONYMOUS SOURCE TELLS POST: From deeper in the Wash Post story: "a person with knowledge of McCrory’s plans says he is likely to veto a bill requiring drug testing of Welfare recipients." Read more here.
VETO OR GOLF? Whether the veto will come Wednesday is uncertain. But McCrory will spend the afternoon playing golf. According to the News & Record, McCrory is schedule to play in the Pro-Am at the Wyndham Championship, which takes place at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro. Other players include UNC Basketball coach Roy Williams and former Wake Forest guard Chris Paul, who now stars on the Los Angeles Clippers. Read more here.
OPPONENTS PREPARE LEGAL FIGHT AGAINST VOTER ID: Rosanell Johnson Eaton, a 92-year-old Franklin County resident, listened with rapt attention Tuesday as lawyers and the head of the state NAACP outlined their legal challenge of the sweeping revisions to North Carolina’s voting procedures.
The day before, Gov. Pat McCrory had signed the GOP-designed revisions into law, and the stroke of his pen set off a flourish of lawsuits. The new law requires voters to show government-issued ID cards, shortens early voting by a week, ends same-day registration and increases the number of poll observers who can challenge a voter’s eligibility. The law also ends straight-ticket voting and eliminates preregistration initiatives for high school students.
Eaton, who has lived in Louisburg her entire life, within seven miles of her birthplace, was one of the first African-Americans registered to vote in the 1940s in Franklin County. To be eligible to cast a ballot, she had to recite the U.S. Constitution preamble to three county registrars as part of a required literacy test. Now she’s preparing for another voting test as a lead plaintiff in one of the legal challenges of the new elections law. Read more here.
GOV. McCRORY SKIPS LOCAL PRESS, KEEPS GOING NATIONAL: Given the New York Times and Washington Post stories above designed to protect Gov. Pat McCrory's image, it's probably no surprise he gave lengthy interview to an NPR station from Boston instead of addressing the local press on the elections bill he recently signed.
DOES McCRORY THINK THERE IS VOTER FRAUD OR NOT? One excerpt from the NPR interview: "Well, you've said that this law is going to combat voter fraud. What evidence is there that voter fraud exists in North Carolina?," McCrory says. "Well, the fact of the matter is we aren't looking for voter fraud. We never really have. And if we're naïve enough to think that there's not voter fraud in the 10th largest state in the United States of America, then I think we've got our head in the sand, especially when you have tens of millions of dollars being spent on both gubernatorial and presidential campaigns in our state."
QUICK QUESTION? McCrory keeps comparing the need for an ID to vote to the need for an ID to buy Sudafed. Does he think voter fraud is as rampant as meth use?
McCRORY ON HOW HE'S FRAMING VOTING BILL: "We're just ensuring one person, one vote, and that's the law of the land, and I'm very proud of this way that we've framed a bill also in making sure that we don't have the corruption in North Carolina politics that we've had in the past. And I'm very, very proud of that." Read a transcript from the "Here and Now" program here.
EMAIL SUBJECT LINE: Black conservatives cheer new voter protections for North Carolina. From the news release: "I'm thrilled to see that North Carolina is joining the brigade of states enforcing Voter ID," said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper, a former constitutional law professor and congressional staffer. "Voter ID is constitutional and legal and, as the evidence demonstrates, it encourages real Americans to cast their vote knowing they won't be displaced by ghosts, convicts or illegal aliens."
DGA SUBJECT LINE -- "SHAMEFUL" That's the word the Democratic Governors Association used to describe the voter ID bill McCrory signed.
AN ESQUIRE HEADLINE WE CAN'T PRINT: Down in the newly insane state of North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory joined Chief Justice John Roberts in the Day Of Jubilee by signing one of the most restrictive voter-suppression laws since the days when black voters had to count the beans in the jar, or recite the Alabama state constitution backwards and in Latin," writer Charlie Pierce starts. See the whole thing here.
NEW PAC TO LAUNCH WEDNESDAY: Upward South, a political action committee focused on young Democratic-minded candidates, will launch a new push ahead of the forthcoming local elections. The group is a reincarnation of the Grassroots Farm Team. A new advisory committee includes Rep. Verla Insko, a Chapel Hill Democrat; Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, a Democrat; and former Rep. Jane Whilden, an Asheville Democrat. It's focus will be municipal and county-level races.
“There is a growing frustration with the deficit of leadership within North Carolina,” said Evan Degnan, Upward South director and board chairman. “We’re thrilled to launch this effort and get to work supporting the next generation of young, progressive public servants in this great state.” Other board members include: Raleigh attorney Matt Calabria, a former UNC-Chapel Hill student body president; Chapel Hill Town Councilman Lee Storrow, a Democrat; and former College Democrats of America National President Tori Taylor.
McCRORY ANNOUNCES HIS FIRST ECONOMIC RECRUITMENT: From the Winston-Salem Journal -- "When it came to Sturm Ruger & Co. Inc. choosing where to open its third firearms manufacturing plant, the decision didn’t come down to buildings, incentives or even how gun friendly the community was. Ruger chose Mayodan and a vacant 220,000-square-foot plant because the potential local workforce “was such a great fit for our company culture,” chief executive Michael Fifer said Tuesday. Ruger made official that it will create at least 473 jobs and spend at least $26 million on capital investments over five years at the plant in the small Rockingham County town. The company plans to sign the plant lease Friday.
"Ruger is among the first economic-development projects managed from start to finish by the McCrory administration. Gov. Pat McCrory said the General Assembly’s recent tax overhaul, which he labeled as a “jobs bill,” registered with Fifer and Ruger in making their decision.
“Ruger is a high-quality firearms manufacturer, the best of the best,” McCrory said.
“They put an ad in the newspaper to see what quality of people would respond. You passed the audition. You landed on your feet and you beat the competition.” Read more here.
MONEY BUT NO APOLOGY FROM STATE: This summer, the state and its insurers will pay nearly $12.5 million for missteps that cost two men decades of freedom. Here’s what Floyd Brown and Greg Taylor won’t get from state leaders: an apology.
This summer, the state Attorney General’s office and its insurers agreed to settle two civil lawsuits against the State Bureau of Investigation for mistakes its agents made in two murder investigations in the 1990s.
In both cases, misconduct of SBI agents helped keep the two men locked away for years. The state paid a $500,000 deductible in Brown’s case and $100,000 in Taylor’s. Insurers paid the rest. On Monday, as news of the settlements was announced, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper blamed the mistakes on outdated practices and procedures long since reformed.
Asked Tuesday whether anyone from the state would apologize to the two innocent men, Cooper issued a statement that verged on an admission of wrongdoing but fell short of an apology. “It’s always wrong when innocent people are jailed for crimes they didn’t commit, no matter who is at fault,” Cooper said in the statement. “The SBI and Crime Lab have learned from these cases and made tremendous improvements to help prevent this and promote justice.” Read more here.
GLENN BECK TEES OFF ON WAKE COUNTY, COMMON CORE: Conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s references to a Wake County elementary school graduation poem praising the Common Core curriculum have injected the incident into the debate over the national learning standards.
Beck said on his national radio show Friday that a Wake substitute teacher recently sent him a copy of the poem because she was concerned that the school was trying to indoctrinate students into supporting the Common Core. The comments take place amid a national backdrop in which some conservative groups in North Carolina and nationally have been trying to halt the new education standards.
“This is really spooky,” Beck said after reciting the poem, which includes lines such as “Economy, government, Revolutionary War. We learned more with Common Core.” Read more here.
NORTH CAROLINA NOT PART OF AIRLINE MERGER FIGHT: The federal government is trying to block the proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways, saying it would cause "substantial harm" to consumers by leading to higher fares and fees.
The U.S. Justice Department, joined by the attorneys general of six states and the District of Columbia, filed a lawsuit to block the merger Tuesday in federal court in Washington, D.C. In its lawsuit, the Justice Department was joined by the attorneys general from American's home state of Texas, US Airways' home state of Arizona, plus Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. Read more of the AP story here.
LOCAL IMPACT: As the largest US Airways hub, Charlotte figures prominently in the Justice Department’s suit. The merger would illegally eliminate competition for flights between Charlotte and 38 other cities, according to the lawsuit. … N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper is monitoring the Justice Department action and “is concerned about the potential for harm to consumers but is also considering the outcome for the City of Charlotte and surrounding communities,” his office said in a statement.
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, the North Carolina Democrat, said she is reviewing the lawsuit. “My top priority throughout this process has been advocating for Charlotte Douglas to retain hub status and ensuring that North Carolina is positioned to improve air service to strengthen our economy and provide more options to travelers,” she said in a statement. Read more here.
NATIONAL AP POLTICIAL STORY FROM NORTH CAROLINA -- Carolina conservatives want more: Republican Patrick McHenry's loudest constituents have no desire to see conciliation on gridlocked Capitol Hill, unless it comes from President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats.
As the congressman holds public question-and-answer sessions with constituents during Congress' summer break, conservatives and GOP loyalists who enjoy significant influence in his western North Carolina district are demanding that he and his House colleagues defund "Obamacare," refuse to raise the nation's debt limit and generally intensify opposition to the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Congress has abysmal approval ratings, and polls suggest that most voters want the divided government to seek out compromise. Yet the no-holds-barred attitude on display here — and elsewhere as other House Republicans hold town-hall style gatherings — offers an ominous forecast of the legislative battles ahead this fall and underscores how little political incentive many Republicans have to reach common ground on issues ranging from immigration to the budget.
The atmosphere has put Republicans like McHenry in a challenging spot. He and others are all but forced to square their criticism of the president with their unwillingness to go as far as the far right wants. In doing so, they risk irking the party's most conservative voters and drawing a primary challenge; many face re-election in districts Obama lost in 2012.
So at nearly every event over the past week, the 37-year-old, fifth-term congressman pre-emptively opened several recent appearances by suggesting that there are limits to the GOP's power, reminding his constituents that "elections have consequences ... (and) this president is in office through 2016." He found himself seeking to delicately explain why he doesn't support a government shut-down or a national credit default, and why there's only so much House Republicans can do to stop funding the health care law given that some of the federal spending is automatic. Read more here.
REGIONAL ECONOMIC RECRUITER TO CONTINUE WORK, DESPITE BUDGET CUTS: From the Hendersonville Times-News: "A regional economic development partnership will continue to operate despite the loss of $1.5 million in funding from the state and the nonprofit The Biofuels Center of North Carolina, according to AdvantageWest President and CEO Scott Hamilton.
"AdvantageWest recently passed its 2013-14 operational budget, which includes a $763,000 cut in appropriations by the state. Last year, AdvantageWest received an allotment of $1.1 million, which is roughly half of the organization’s annual budget. In the state budget that went into effect July 1, that amount was reduced to $337,000.
"Hamilton said AdvantageWest will not receive any state funding after June 30, 2014, as a result of the state budget passed July 26. The N.C. General Assembly also will end funding for the other six regional economic development partnerships in the state.
“As a nonprofit, we will still exist,” Hamilton said of AdvantageWest. “We will continue to move forward with job creation opportunities. We still have enough (funds) to be proactive, and develop leads and programs in our 23 counties.” Read more here.