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Morning Memo: Feds to challenge N.C. voting law; Senate candidates scrap for cash

FEDS TO CHALLENGE NORTH CAROLINA’S VOTING LAW: The U.S. Department of Justice will file a lawsuit Monday to stop North Carolina’s new voter ID law, which critics have said is the most sweeping law of its kind, according to a person briefed on the department’s plans.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who has said he will fight state voting laws that he sees as discriminatory, will announce the lawsuit at noon Monday, along with the three U.S. attorneys from the state. Critics said the law will disenfranchise African-American and elderly voters, while the Republican-led General Assembly in Raleigh said the law will protect the state’s voters from potential fraud.

***Read more on the forthcoming lawsuit, get #NCSEN updates and a roundup of North Carolina political headlines below in a packed Dome Morning Memo.***

REACTION TO THE VOTING LAW CHALLENGE: Bob Hall, head of Democracy North Carolina, an election advocacy group, said it was important for the federal government to get involved. ... "It's important to recognize that eliminating or restricting those particular features hurt certain people," Hall said.

State Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican who has supported the elections law changes, said Sunday night that he had not seen the complaint and could not comment. "Let's see what the complaint is first," Rucho said. Read full story here.

STATE LAWMAKERS RETURN TO RALEIGH THIS WEEK: House and Senate lawmakers will convene a series of committee meetings this week in Raleigh as they begin to lay the groundwork for next year’s session. The topics include energy policy, unemployment insurance, elections and economic development. See a calendar here.

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory lists one item on his public calendar today: a tour of the N.C. Zoo. The State Board of Elections meets in a 1 p.m. conference call to fill a county board vacancy and discuss temporary rules for multipartisan election teams.

SHUTDOWN LOOMS IN WASHINGTON: With the government teetering on the brink of partial shutdown, congressional Republicans vowed Sunday to keep using an otherwise routine federal funding bill to try to attack the president's health care law. Read more here.

FUNDRAISING DEADLINE TODAY: Today is the third-quarter deadline for U.S. Senate candidates to raise money and the fundraising pitches reflect its importance. Republican Thom Tillis is trying to post big numbers in his first full quarter as a candidate as he hopes to raise $12 million for his campaign. Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan is trying to add to her sizable money lead. And Republican Greg Brannon is bashing Tillis for raising money from special interests. More on the fundraising pitches below:

TILLIS SAYS HE’S NEAR HIS FUNDRAISING GOAL: From his fundraising pitch: "Obamacare is a mortal threat to our economy that will decrease healthcare quality and raise our healthcare premiums. We knew this before Kay Hagan and the Democrats rammed this disastrous legislation through the Congress without a single Republican vote. ...That's why, if I earn the privilege of serving you in the US Senate, I've pledged to vote to repeal, defund it, and stop Obamacare in any way possible. … My opponent, Kay Hagan, cast the deciding vote to pass Obamacare and continues to support it in every way possible. We must send her home. If she won't work to scrap Obamacare, I will."

BRANNON SAYS HE NEEDS $18,000: From Brannon’s fundraising email titled "I will be outspent": "‘Did he help us? Yes . . . I'm going to write him a check.’ That's what a high-powered lobbyist said about my opponent less than a week after a bill hiking profits for his industry became state law.This is what you and I are up against this election.

"An establishment-backed insider who is stuffing his campaign coffers with special-interest money. … After all, my opponent is the hand-picked candidate of Washington insiders who have one goal: To keep their taxpayer-funded, special interest gravy train running full speed ahead."

HAGAN: In a fundraising pitch for Kay Hagan, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin says she knows what it’s like to have Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS spend money to attack her. And she wants to help Hagan with the fight now. Read the fundraising pitch here.

BERGER IS THE NEW BASNIGHT: From columnist Rob Christensen: "Here is the fallout from North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger’s decision to forgo a challenge to Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan next year. It cements Berger’s role as the new Marc Basnight, the most powerful figure in state government. And it sets up a classic insider/outsider GOP Senate primary between House Speaker Thom Tillis and the Rev. Mark Harris, president of the Baptist State Convention.

...Basnight and Berger are different politicians. Basnight’s legacy was advancing the University of North Carolina system and pushing conservation measures. Berger’s legacy is likely to be tax cuts, cutting regulations and shrinking government. Basnight was no liberal – he was a small-business man who voted for Jesse Helms and was against abortion – but next to Berger he looks like one. But like Basnight, Berger is a political pro. Read more here.

CAN REPUBLICANS AVOID THE NEXT TODD AKIN? That’s the headline on a National Journal piece that mentions North Carolina’s 2014 Senate race. From the story -- "Even strong general-election candidates are distracted from their ultimate goal when submerged in a battle for their party’s nomination. Essential tasks such as messaging, voter-turnout operations, and fundraising can all suffer. "When you’re fighting a primary like that, it is very difficult to do nuts-and-bolts things like building an operation for a general election," said Matt Canter, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Such a dilemma could afflict the eventual GOP nominee in North Carolina, where state House Speaker Thom Tillis, while not a perfect candidate, could be forced into a costly primary against a battery of tea-party foes while Hagan raises money largely unimpeded. Read more here.

CATAWBA TO PUSH TRIBAL GAMING WITHOUT McCRORY ON BOARD: The Catawba Indian Nation’s proposed casino in Cleveland County is drawing ardent opposition in Raleigh, but the tribe says the games could go on without state support.

Gov. Pat McCrory and more than 100 N.C. House lawmakers are aligned against the project because it would expand gambling and possibly open the door to more casinos. Attorneys for the South Carolina-based Catawba Nation say a settlement with the federal government and a 26-year-old Supreme Court decision would allow the tribe to offer a wide range of games, if U.S. officials give the necessary approvals. The tribe says it would like to reach a compact with North Carolina to share gaming revenue, but that it’s not a requirement. "Whether they have a compact or not, they will go forward with gaming," said Gregory Smith, a Washington lawyer representing the tribe.

But critics of the casino read the law differently – suggesting a protracted legal fight over any proposed gambling by the tribe in North Carolina. "I’m not aware of any authorization that gives them the authority to establish a gaming operation in North Carolina without going through some sort of process not only with the federal government but the state," said John Rustin, president of the N.C. Family Policy Council, which opposes expanded gambling. Read more here.

McCRORY FOCUS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ON LURING AUTO COMPANY: From the Greensboro News & Record: "Gov. Pat McCrory said today that the Piedmont Triad region may have the best sites to attract North Carolina's first auto manufacturing plant.
McCrory, who spoke at a luncheon of about 50 business and civic leaders, said recruiting an auto manufacturer is one of his top priorities.

But he was tight-lipped beyond that. He said in a private interview that he and state officials are working on a plan to attract an auto company. "I firmly believe we need to recruit the auto industry and have a strategy to do that," he said. Read more here.

COMMERCE DEPT.’S LISTENING TOUR INVITE-ONLY: The recent budget passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory allows his administration to move forward with a major overhaul of the state’s economic development apparatus.

Up until now the public has had little opportunity to weigh in on the proposed changes, which include a plan to privatize major elements of the state’s economic development effort. That will change in the coming weeks as Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker and other administration officials go on a self-described "listening tour" around the state. The first event, held in Durham on a recent Friday afternoon, drew about 150 people. The second is planned for Monday in Hickory. Read more here.

MEET THE MAN PUSHING WASHINGTON TO THE BRINK -- Mark Meadows: From CNN: "One of the most prominent developers of the plan that could shut the government down is a little-known congressman who has been in office only eight months.
This newly elected tea party aligned lawmaker downplays his position, saying he has relatively little influence. But in reality, his efforts have pushed Washington to the brink." Read more here.

FROM MEADOWS’ FLOOR SPEECH: ‘We did not elect a dictator’. Watch his Obama-bashing speech from last week here.

RICHARD BURR’S TWEET ON GOP FILIBUSTER: @SenatorBurr wrote: Filibustering such a bill is not only the height of hypocrisy, but also lays bare for the world the hollowness of this so-called strategy." It drew attention from the Washington post. Read more here.

POLITICS SURROUND PROPOSED RESERVOIR: The proposed $95 million John Cline Reservoir is still nothing more than some lines on a map in rural Cleveland County, an hour west of Charlotte. But it has created some powerful political waves in Raleigh, where it has received special attention in the legislature and in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

In some cases, lawmakers have had a personal interest. One powerful lawmaker is an attorney for the water authority pushing the project, while another has done work for a real estate company that hopes to benefit from the lake. Read more here.

FRACKING REGULATORS TO RELAX WATER QUALITY TESTING RULES: North Carolina’s fracking commissioners said Friday that fracking is so inherently safe that they will recommend relaxing the standard by which operators will have to test local well water before they begin drilling for natural gas.

The state’s current testing standard, the strictest in the nation, is designed to give residents a legal remedy against the threat of chemical contamination of wells and aquifers from natural gas drilling. Members of the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission said during a meeting Friday that there is no need for the law to be so strict because the hypothetical accident the law seeks to protect against – chemicals leeching deep underground – couldn’t happen in the first place.

Commissioners delivered some of their most forceful statements to date in defense of fracking since the panel began meeting a year ago to write North Carolina’s safety rules for natural gas exploration. Read more here.

STATE GIVES $80,000 SETTLEMENT FOR FIRING: The state Department of Commerce has paid its former in-house lawyer $80,000 after reclassifying her job and firing her.

The department reached the settlement with Karen A. West, 57, who was fired in June after Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker reclassified West’s position, stripping it of civil service protections. She appealed, saying the reclassification of her job was improper. … The two sides reached a settlement before the administrative law judge made his final ruling. As part of the settlement, the department also agreed to change the reason for the job termination to resignation. West signed the settlement agreement Sept. 18. Read more here.

OBAMACARE DEBUTS TUESDAY: On Tuesday, more than 1 million North Carolinians will find out how they will fare under the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy and a political lightning rod for critics. … Details of subsidized insurance in North Carolina will become available for the first time, ending months of speculation about who will come out ahead and who will take a hit financially.

Tuesday marks the beginning of open enrollment for subsidized insurance, a six-month period to shop for the new policies, which were designed to meet the requirements of the health law. The first deadline is not until Dec. 15 for those who want new policies to be effective Jan. 1, and enrollment runs through March 31. Read more here.

WELCOME #NCPOLBABY: N.C. Rep. Tricia Cotham’s second baby – a rambunctious 8-pound, 10-ounce boy named Ryan Francis Meek – arrived Friday, instantly becoming a "social media baby" with his mom tweeting a running commentary before and after the delivery.

Ryan and older brother Elliot, born in 2010, are rarities in North Carolina – few sitting legislators have had babies in recent years. They are now members of a growing political family. Their mother, a Democrat, is in her fourth term in the N.C. House, representing east Charlotte and Matthews. Their father, attorney Jerry Meek, is a Democratic Party activist and former state party chair. Their grandmother, Pat Cotham, also a Democrat, chairs the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners.

Tricia Cotham’s tweeting began Thursday night: "Last night of pregnancy!?!" followed by the hashtag #ncpolbaby. Read more here.

SCHOOL BOARDS SEEK MORE CLOUT IN RALEIGH: Tim Morgan, vice chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board, is leading a new group that hopes to give school districts a stronger voice with state lawmakers. Local boards and "public education as we know it" face "a battle for survival," according to a memo sent to school boards in August. Read more here.

GENE NICHOL OP-ED: From the director of UNC’s center on poverty: "It’s common to think of North Carolina poverty on a rural-urban axis. We’ve become a state, the narrative goes, of booming, economically vibrant metropolitan centers accompanied by in many instances struggling, chronically poor rural communities. The traditional portrait is accurate, so far as it goes." Read more here.

Q&A WITH McCRORY’s JOBS CZAR: Tony Almeida, the governor’s senior advisor on jobs and the economy tells the Salisbury Post on teachers: "Attracting, retaining and rewarding our good teachers is a priority for this administration. The governor (has said) that we’ve got to find an additional funding stream so that we can attract, retain and reward our good teachers in North Carolina.
We realize it’s important and we need to focus on solutions." Read the whole Q&A here.


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Obama used the IRS to hassle the Tea Party

So why not use the DOJ to hassle the NC Republicans? Using the Federal Government for political purposes is becoming the norm. It is like having friendly referees in a ball game.

Eric will show the NC General Assembly who is boss

And it will be great politics leading up to the 2014 elections. You have to hand it to Obama, he is a master politician. And the cost of this campaign will be picked up by the taxpayers. It don't get no better than that!

I'm thinking the press will give this a little more coverage than Fast & Furious.

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