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Morning Memo: GOP in power, today's big vote and a new political show

BIG VOTE TODAY: North Carolina children as young as 5 may soon be able to receive their public school education online from for-profit companies. The State Board of Education plans to vote Thursday on a special application for virtual schools that want to run public charters and receive taxpayer money. Full story here.

INAUGURATION FESTIVITIES GET UNDERWAY: Thursday marks the beginning of the traditional inauguration festivities. Council of State officials will get feted at a reception at 6 p.m. at the Progress Energy Center. The event is hosted by the Junior League of Raleigh and five companies with business before the state will sponsor: Charlotte Pipe and Foundry, Cisco Systems, Duke Energy, Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and the Hendrick Companies. It's just one of the few opportunities special interests will get to lobby the state's top officials this week.

***This is the Dome Morning Memo, a digest of the state's big political news with analysis the reads between the lines. Thanks for reading. Click below for more.***

Budget debate gets hostile

As the budget debate closed in on 11 p.m, House members started openly insulting and mocking one another in ways that resemble how people talk about their enemies behind their backs.

At one point, Rep. Bill Faison, an Orange County Democrat who ran for governor criticized the Republican budget, blaming it for lost jobs and the deterioration of the state's unemployment rankings.

Faison, who proposed a sales tax increase during his run for the Democratic nomination for governor, said that was the remedy to the state's unemployment problem. "Nobody in this body is opposed to raising a little bit of tax," Faison said. Republicans increased fees last year, which Faison said are taxes with another name.

Rep. Nelson Dollar asked Faison if a tax increase was a key element in his gubernatorial campaign platform. Yes, said Faison.

"I wondered how that was working out for you," Dollar said.

Faison didn't win the primary, as everyone in the chamber knew. He came in third, with less than 6 percent of the vote. His retort: the Republicans were trying to repair budget damage that cost people their jobs. "Let's see how that works out for you in November," he said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Faison in fender bender

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Faison was in a minor automobile accident Friday night in Wake County, according to campaign manager Jeanne Miliken Bonds.

Neither Faison nor Bonds were hurt, in what Bonds called a “fender bender” that occurred on Highway 264 near Hodge Road.. She said they were returning from a campaign event in Greenville and had stopped by a relative's house in Knightdale to pick up campaign material.

He was issued a moving violation.

Faison radio ad alludes to Etheridge video controversy

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Faison said he went up this morning with a state-wide radio buy which talks about his jobs plan, but is also critical of two major opponents in Tuesday's primary.

Faison, a state representative from Orange County, said the radio ad criticizes the record of Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton. And for the first time raises, the issue of 2010 episode, in which then Congressman Bob Etheridge grabbed a young man in DC – sent by the GOP – to shoot a video of him while asking if he supported President Obama's agenda.

The video when viral and may have contributed to Etheridge's defeat to Republican Renee Ellmers in 2010.

Faison said the ad says “that Bob Etheridge is the only Democratic congressman who lost in the state in 2010 – an event that occurred when someone asked if he supported President Obama's agenda.''

Faison ends up spending only a modest amount on campaign

State Rep. Bill Faison has spent $109,681 on his campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor, less than many expected.

Faison  had loaned his campaign $634,912 earlier this year, but has since repaid himself $505,000 according to a campaign report filed with the State board of Elections. His campaign has mainly been self-financed, raising only $11,540 in contributions.

Several polls show Faison a distant third behind Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and former Congressman Bob Etheridge.

Dalton gets labor endorsement

Teamsters Local 391 endorsed Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton in the Democratic primary for governor.

Local 391 is the largest of the three locals in North Carolina, with 8,000 members from the Triad to the coast.

Dalton is in a crowded primary where the other main competitors are former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge and state Rep. Bill Faison.

WTVD to livestream Democratic gubernatorial debate tonight sans Dalton

Two of the three Democratic candidates for governor will debate tonight at WTVD.

Former Congressman Bob Etheridge and state Rep. Bill Faison will participate in the debate, but Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, citing a scheduling conflict, will not.

The one-hour debate be live streamed over the Internet at 7 p.m. tonight on and broadcast on a delayed basis at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.

The three Democrats will participate in three live debates next week.

Law school students to quiz Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls

The Democratic candidates for governor will submit to questions from area law school students Wednesday evening at a town hall forum at N.C. Central University. Democratic candidates Bob Etheridge and Bill Faison are scheduled to attend the 7 p.m. at the NCCU law school event, which is open to the public. Walter Dalton is not expected to attend. Raymond Pierce, the NCCU law school dean, will moderate and and ask questions offered by students submitted by students from the law schools at NCCU, Campbell School of Law, Duke Law, and the University of North Carolina law school. The town hall is being sponsored by the NCCU Law School Democrats.

Etheridge, Faison talk in Cary Tuesday night

There is not much TV advertising in the Democratic primary for governor yet. But Democrats can get to see the candidates up close and personal -- sort of like local legislative races.

Two of the Democratic candidates for governor, former Congressman Bob Etheridge and state Rep. Bill Faison, are scheduled to talk Tuesday night to the Western Wake County Democrats.

The meeting at the IHOP on Kildaire Farm Road in Cary will begin at 6 p.m. with the two candidates scheduled to speak for 15 minutes each at 7 p.m.  

Anti-marriage amendment team releases candidates' videos

Dueling for advantages in the run-up to the May 8 marriage amendment vote continues apace.

The pro-amendment side, Vote for Marriage NC, tweeted today that it has talked with more than 4,000 pastors and has more than 600 “church captains” across the state. From the beginning, the pro side has planned to win the fight in churches. Looks like they’ve been busy.

On the flip side, the Coalition to Protect All NC Families, today released five videos with candidates for the state’s highest offices taking a stand against the amendment. They are all Democrats: gubernatorial hopefuls Walter Dalton, Bob Etheridge and Bill Faison, and lieutenant governor candidates Linda Coleman and Eric Mansfield.

Earlier in the week, “Clergy for Equality,” a group of 30 leaders representing 12 faith traditions, announced they plan to oppose the amendment through sermons, liturgy and prayer, The Charlotte Observer reported. The state’s two Catholic bishops have announced their support for the amendment.

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