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Morning Memo: Hundreds furloughed; U.S. Senate candidates make moves

HUNDREDS OF STATE WORKERS FURLOUGHED: The federal government shutdown caused the furlough of hundreds of state government workers whose jobs are fully or partially federally funded Tuesday, and state officials said several thousand more jobs could be be affected.

The state Department of Health and Human Services told 337 employees not to show up for work Wednesday morning. Officials said as many 4,500 DHHS workers could be furloughed or see their hours reduced. There was also a smaller furlough in the Department of Transportation, and a small group of workers at the state Labor Department saw their hours slashed in half.

#NCSEN DAY: The Republican challengers in the U.S. Senate race are all making moves this week to position themselves. Charlotte Pastor Mark Harris enters the race today, Thom Tillis is hiring staff and Greg Brannon is touting fundraising numbers.

***Read all the U.S. Senate race news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Anti Hagan billboards going up across NC

Americans for Prosperity said Friday that it is planning a billboard campaign in the Research Triangle and the Piedmont Triad questioning Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan's stance on the issue of carbon emissions tax.

Hagan has said she opposes such a tax, and the carbon emissions tax has no political traction in Congress now.

But the conservative group is basing its campaign on Hagan's vote in March on two amendment -- one against an amendment that would return revenues for any fee on carbon pollution to the American public through deficit reduction and another against block a carbon tax.

"Whey didn't Sen Kay Hagan vote against the Carbon Tax? Ask her'' say the billboards that will go up along Interstate Highways 40, 8, and 95 close to the cities of Burlington, Dunn, Durham, Greensboro, Lexington and Newton Grove.

This follows up on an internet advertising campaign that Americans for Prosperity ran against Hagan on the same issue in June.

The billboards come on the heels of a radio advertising campaign announced earlier this month by the American Energy Alliance criticizing Hagan on the carbon emissions tax.

Americans for Prosperity is a group started by the by the Koch brothers, whose investments include oil refining facilities. The American Energy Alliance also has ties to Koch Industries.

Hagan faces a difficult re-eleciton campaign next year.

UPDATE: Preston Elliott, Hagan's campaign manager responded: "Senator Hagan is standing up for North Carolina families and our state's jobs each and every day. She opposes a carbon tax, and she is promoting policies that will reduce regulations and spur economic development and growth across the state. She will continue focusing on jobs as her top priority unlike the special interest outsiders trying to distort her record."

New anti-Obamacare TV ads about to hit NC airwaves from Koch Brothers group

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group, has released its latest TV that will air in North Carolina and five other states opposing President Obama's new health care law.

The new ad, called "Tricia's story,'' features an activist who is also a two-time cancer survivor questioning whether she would receive the same kind of treatment under Obamacare.

"Obamacare is not a patient-centered healthcare system,'' said Chris Farr, the group's state director. "The bureaucracy and red tape are too much and will be particularly devastating to patients and families who have to deal with traumatic disease like cancer.''

The group said it is spending $3 million on the ad buy that begins Oct. 1 and which will run in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio and Virginia as well as North Carolina. It is the fourth in a series of TV ads being run by the group with ties to billionaire energy executives Charles and David Koch.

The ad buy in North Carolina is $366,195. It is the third ad the group has bought in this state.

In four of the states -- Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina -- Democrats face difficult re-election battles, while in Virginia there is a hot governor's race.

Anti-Obamacare TV ads running in NC

Americans for Prosperity has begun running a new TV in North Carolina and two other states targeting women and raising questions about Obamacare.

The ad features Renay, the mother of a young girl who has had four open heart surgeries. She worries that that the new health care law will restrict the freedom of patients to keep their doctors.

"The average North Carolinian feels very strongly about their freedom to choose their own personal doctor,' said Chris Farr, state director of AFP. "For those citizens who have a serious illness affecting their loves ones, the freedom to choose a doctor becomes even more crucial. Obamacare threatens that freedom and people are not going to sit by and quietly accept this impact on their lives.''

The ads were purchased to run in the Cleveland-Akron area, Charlotte, Tampa and Washington D.C. The group plans to spend $41,375 on WSOC and $20,050 at WBTV, according to Political Moneyline.

Americans for Prosperity are a 501-(4) non profit organization that was founded by David and Charles Koch.

Morning Memo: The recasting of Gov. McCrory? Unraveling his shifts

PAT McCRORY LINKS MEDICAID REFORMS TO TEACHER PAY HIKES -- Governor pledges big announcement in coming months: Speaking at the Cary Chamber of Commerce's annual banquet Wednesday evening, Gov. Pat McCrory promised "controversial" proposals to change the state's Medicaid system. Overruns in Medicaid costs are a huge burden on the state and have drained funding for education, he said.

Citing issues with federal regulations, "a lack of waivers from the feds, and frankly, some of the politics within Raleigh here," McCrory said he wanted to change the state's implementation of the federal health program for people with low income.

"I'm going to have to bring up some fairly controversial proposals to change Medicaid, or we're going to continue to have some very, very serious issues here in North Carolina," McCrory told the crowd. "That's coming in the next three, four months. I'll probably introduce them while the legislature's out of town, between now and May," he said, drawing laughs. Changes to Medicaid, he said are " the way we're going to get raises to the teachers."

***McCrory appears to be charting a new course, but the administration is backtracking on a different education announcement. Read it all below in today's Dome Morning Memo***

Woodhouse leaving Americans for Prosperity

Dallas Woodhouse is leaving his job as state director for Americans for Prosperity to "pursue business opportunities in the political arena," according to the organization.

Woodhouse has been with APF since 2006 and has been state director since 2007.

The group saw a number of its priorities realized this legislation session, including a new voucher program, a change in the tax code, and looser regulations.

Politicians, advocates react strongly to GOP budget plan

The Republican-crafted $20.6 billion state budget is eliciting strong reactions from across the North Carolina political spectrum. Much of it focuses on the education funding changes. One person yet to respond: Gov. Pat McCrory. But in the meantime, check out a roundup of statements below.

--Senate Democratic Leader Martin Nesbitt: “With this budget and last week’s tax bill, we can clearly see the Republican agenda: hoarding power in Raleigh and cutting vital services to the middle class in order to pay for massive handouts to the wealthiest 1% and out-of-state corporations. This is ‘big-government’ conservatism that prioritizes power over people and special interests and the super-wealthy over middle class families."

Tea party group picks sides, backs Senate tax bill

An influential tea party group is picking sides in the ongoing tax debate in Raleigh. Americans for Prosperity is urging state lawmakers to back the Senate's plan -- instead of a competing House bill.

The Senate will take a final vote Tuesday on its tax overhaul and send it back to the House. AFP wants the House to concur and abandon its own plan, which the Senate mostly discarded.

“The quickest way to achieve the strongest possible tax relief and reform is for the House to concur to the Senate changes to House Bill 998," said Dallas Woodhouse, the group's North Carolina director, in a prepared statement. "We encourage the House to take this bold step to pass significant tax relief and reform that will get North Carolina back in the game for jobs and business.”

Conservative group hits Kay Hagan, touts Thom Tillis

Americans for Prosperity is targeting Democrat U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in a new web ad about renewable energy at the same time the conservative organization touts Republican Thom Tillis on taxes.

Tillis, the House speaker, announced last week his intentions to challenge Hagan an filed campaign papers this week.

The timing of the two ad campaigns is coincidental, said Dallas Woodhouse, the group's North Carolina director. "They have nothing to do with each other," he said.

AFP ad touts 'new day' of GOP leadership, tax efforts

Americans for Prosperity launched the first phase of its campaign to support Republican lawmakers efforts to rewrite the state's tax code. In a new TV ad, it describes "a new day " in North Carolina politics, urging viewers to "encourage our new leaders to keep going" and sign a petition supporting a tax overhaul.

Dallas Woodhouse, the AFP state director, declined to provide additional details on the TV buy for the ad, titled "Back in the Game." But he said it is appearing on cable channels across the state and some broadcast channels. AFP has promised to put $500,000 into supporting the plan -- and public polling and anecdotal interviews suggest a skeptical public needs a good bit of convincing.

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