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Morning Memo: Berger to make decision; Wos as a mentor to McCrory

MORAL MONDAYS IN THE FOOTHILLS: The North Carolina NAACP is taking its protest of legislative action to Yadkinville. The civil rights group said its Moral Monday and the Forward Together Movement will be at the Yadkin County Courthouse at 7 p.m. Monday.

The NAACP has been protesting actions by the Republican-dominated General Assembly for weeks. The group says it's concerned about what it calls attacks on teachers, unemployed workers, immigrants and voting rights, among other issues. Read more here.

TODAY IN POLITICS: Other political headlines to expect: Senate leader Phil Berger announces whether he will run for the U.S. Senate on Monday. Gov. Pat McCrory will take his message outside the capital city again, traveling to McAdenville for a tour at Pharr Yarns Facility and then visit Belmont for a business roundtable at the String Bean on Main Street.

***Read a dissection of the Aldona Wos profile below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Brian Nick to help McCrory-tied committee

Brian Nick, who played an important role in Pat McCrory's gubernatorial campaign, will be helping the outside non profit group formed by friends of the governor.

Nick will serve as spokesman and other roles for Renew North Carolina, a 501-C4 group that was formed earlier year by McCrory allies to push issues favored by the governor. The group held major fund raisers in Raleigh during the inaugural and more recently at the Grandover Hotel near Greensboro.

Nick, who works for the LA-based Strategic Perception consulting firm, was a McCrory advisor during the campaign. But after the election. He did not join the administration, but went to work in McCrory's old law firm, Moore and Van Allen in Charlotte. He has recently left the firm.

Nick is a veteran of Tar Heel politics having been heavily involved in both the campaigns and the Senate staff of Elizabeth Dole.

While working for Strategic Perception, Nick will be taking on Renew North Carolina as a client.

McCrory's camp releases internal poll showing governor's approval at 48%

UPDATED: Pat McCrory's camp released internal poll numbers Wednesday showing his job approval rating at 48 percent -- a move designed to counter a different poll that shows the governor's stock declining.

The poll commissioned by Renew North Carolina Foundation, a private nonprofit extended from McCrory's 2012 campaign, gives the Republican governor a 26-point positive approval margin, with just 22 percent disapproving. His favorability rating is essentially the same at 49 favorable to 22 percent unfavorable, according to a portion of the poll released first to Dome. Another 29 percent were unsure. The margin of error for the poll is plus-or-minus 3.5 percent.

Earlier Wednesday, a new survey from Public Policy Polling showed McCrory's job approval rating at 39 percent with 51 percent disapproving -- his lowest numbers of his term and part of a sustained decline since he took office at the start of the year. The margin of error is 4 percent.

The poll asked the same question but the different numbers are likely attributed to methodology.

Former McCrory aide departs from McCrory's former employer

Brian Nick, a former strategist for Gov. Pat McCrory, is leaving his job at a Charlotte law firm to return to the political media company where he formerly worked.

Earlier this year, Nick went to work for Moore & Van Allen, the law firm that had employed McCrory until his inauguration. Nick said he’s returning to Strategic Perception to “pursue some projects that are more political in nature.” Strategic Perception was a key player in McCrory's 2012 election.

He was part of the public affairs division at the law firm, fielding repeated questions in recent weeks about the firm's role in funneling sweepstakes money to political candidates on behalf of Chase Burns, an Internet cafe company president charged in Florida for money laundering and racketeering.

“MVA is a wonderful firm with exceptional people,” he said Tuesday, “and I very much appreciate the opportunity and experience.” --Jim Morrill, Observer staff writer

McCrory ad campaign judged one of best in the country

If you thought Republican Pat McCrory had a pretty good TV advertising campaign last year, it was because he did.

His campaign recently won the Bronze award for the third best Republican TV ad campaign in the country last year as judged by the American Association of Political Consultants as part of the POLLIE Awards. The ad campaign featured positive ads, shot in a diner or in an empty warehouse, in which McCrory talked about how things were not going well in the state, and that as mayor of Charlotte he knew how to bring people together to improve the state.

The ad campaign was produced by Strategic Perceptions Inc, a Los Angeles based firm headed by Fred Davis, who has run TV ads for the like of George Bush and John McCain's presidential campaigns. Locally, he did ads for Sen. Elizabeth Dole's 2008 re-election campaign and for Patrick Ballantine's 2004 gubernatorial campaign.

Working with Davis on the McCrory TV campaign was Brian Nick, a veteran local political operative, who now works for Moore & Van Allen.

McCrory calls strategy memo shameful

On Fox News this morning, Gov. Pat McCrory expressed dismay that nonprofit groups in the state were trying to brand him after only six weeks in office.

McCrory was responding to a question about a Charlotte Observer article last week about a strategy memo that called for weakening Republican's ability to govern and used language like "eviscerate" and "cripple."

McCrory adviser takes job at Charlotte law firm Moore & Van Allen

A senior adviser to Gov.-elect Pat McCrory's campaign has taken a job at the Charlotte law firm where his boss worked after stepping down as the city's mayor.

Moore & Van Allen has hired Brian Nick as part of its public affairs team. Nick handled communications strategy for the campaign.

Nick previously worked for Vice President Dan Quayle, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole and a range of other GOP campaigns. He starts the new job Monday.

Liberal group: Pat McCrory needs to cut ties with consulting firm

A liberal advocacy group is asking Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory to cut ties to a political consulting firm linked to a controversial plan to tie President Barack Obama to the incendiary comments of his ex-pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Brian Nick, a McCrory strategist and spokesman in Charlotte, and Fred Davis, the campaign's TV ad man, work for California-based Strategic Perception, which crafted a plan titled "The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: the Ricketts Plan to End His Spending For Good." Nick, Davis and others at the firm are listed as members of the "Team of Pirates" who would put the plan into action.

Quick Hits

* Worth noting: Former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor as U.S. Circuit judge in 1998; former Sen. Lauch Faircloth against.

* Brian Nick, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, was named a "rising star" by Politics magazine for consultants and advocates under 35.

* N.C. Republican Party chair candidates Chad Adams and Marcus Kindley answer questionnaires on policy from Carolina Politics Online.

* N.C. Democratic Party chair David Young says on Asheville talk radio that his "gut" tells him U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler is thinking of a Senate run.

Nick joins Hollywood political consultant

Brian Nick, who was chief of staff to former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, will open the Washington office for Hollywood-based Republican political consultant Fred Davis.

Davis was the media consultant for both Dole, a Republican, and GOP presidential candidate John McCain last year. He has a reputation for non-traditional television ads. Nick will be opening a new office for his firm, Strategic Perception, in the nation's capital.

"Fred is the most creative mind in the business," Nick said, acknowledging that Republicans likely face another difficult election year in 2010. "He offers the kind of out-of-the-box approach that's needed in this kind of environment."

Nick, an Indiana native, came to North Carolina in 2001 to gear up Dole's successful Senate run, leading a team of young aides who quickly gained a reputation for their uniform navy blazers. He served as Dole's communications director in both her Senate office and, in 2005 and 2006, when she was chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which coordinates Senate campaigns across the country. He was her chief of staff until her defeat in last year's election.

Davis has collected a healthy list of successful candidates, but he may be best known in North Carolina for a puzzling ad for Patrick Ballantine, the 2004 Republican candidate for governor, that resembled a scene from the movie "Firestarter."

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