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Coble planning for re-election, but leaves retirement door open

He's 82 and plagued with recent health problems, but Republican Congressman Howard Coble is keeping his re-election chances alive even as potential GOP replacements circle. At the same time, he's leaving the door cracked for a possible retirement.

From Travis Fain at the Greensboro News-Record: "U.S. Rep. Howard Coble hasn’t made a final decision about re-election, but he’s planning a fundraiser in September, keeping an eye on his health, and he’s “on course” to seek a 16th congressional term, Coble said Wednesday.

"Coble, a Greensboro Republican whose 6th District seat represents a large swath of the northern Piedmont, said he has recovered from the unexplained dizzy spells that caused him to be hospitalized earlier this year, and he hasn’t missed any recent meetings because of them. “Right now we’re on course for running again, even though I have not made a final decision,” he said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Coble, who is 82 and first won his seat in 1984, said his health would be a primary factor in the final decision. But it’s “not the whole thing,” he said. “Keep in mind, of course, that I’ve been up here for three decades,” he said. “That needs to be weighed in as well ... so stay tuned.” More here.

Radio spot targets bill rolling back Hatteras protections

Environmentalists are worried about a bill coming up for a committee vote in Congress this week that would roll back coastal protections against beach driving.

They’ve just launched a radio ad campaign in North Carolina to defeat Senate Bill 486, introduced by North Carolina Senators Kay Hagen and Richard Burr.

The bill would scrap the Cape Hatteras management policy for managing off-road vehicle use, which has been in place since 2012 following extensive public input. The bill calls for return to an interim policy, which environmental groups say devastated seat turtle and shorebird populations.

Defenders of Wildlife has put out the radio spot.

“There is no need for this legislation; Cape Hatteras saw record numbers of tourists last year, (North Carolina Department of Commerce), sea turtle nest counts were at an all-time high and piping plover and other shorebirds are rebounding (National Park Service) since the plan was put in place,” said Jason Rylander, senior attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, in a news release. “Their efforts will turn this great national park back into a parking lot.”

Rouzer raising money at D.C. lobbying firm

UPDATED: Former state Sen. David Rouzer is hitting the donor circuit again in his second bid for Congress.

Rouzer traveled to Washington for a fundraiser Wednesday featuring Republican Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California and the GOP members of the N.C. congressional delegation, according to an invite.

The noon fundraiser is at the offices of lobbying firm Meyers & Associates. It costs hosts $2,500 to attend with the minimum contribution at $250. A Rouzer spokesman said the space is being rented from the lobbying firm by the campaign.

Rouzer is trying again to beat Democratic Congressman Mike McIntyre. He narrowly lost in the 2012 election and announced a second bid just a few months later.

Morning Memo: A new Dix deal, fallout from Brawley letter

A NEW DIX DEAL: Gov. Pat McCrory and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane will hold a joint news conference this morning to discuss the Dorothea Dix lease. A state House committee approved a new version of a bill Wednesday that would revoke Raleigh’s disputed lease on the Dorothea Dix property near downtown. The compromise bill comes with a sweetener that has the support of city leaders and the governor’s office.

But the question is whether the Senate will go along. Sen. Ralph Hise, a Spruce Pine Republican, said the Senate remains committed to its version of the bill. "As we've clearly seen, the lease was entered into by the state illegally, it is substantially different than what even the Council of State had approved, and it's in the bad interest of the state," he said. "If they need to start, we'll start from scratch. But you can't begin on a foundation that's that weak."

GOP LAWMAKERS REACT TO BRAWLEY LETTER: “If you have a disagreement, that's not how one handles it and I'm saddened," said Rep. Craig Horn, a Weddington Republican. "We don't need distractions." Other Republican lawmakers refused to talk about it. "I don't have anything to say," said House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican and top GOP leader, said she was surprised by the letter read on the floor. "I thought it was an inappropriate use of the floor by Rep. Brawley." If anything, Samuelson said, "I think it will help bring us together more because it doesn't represent the majority of the caucus."

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- congrats to the NCGA team on the big win against South Carolina last night. More North Carolina political news below. ***

Marcus Brandon forms committee for congressional bid

Democratic State Rep. Marcus Brandon made his intentions to seek Congressman Mel Watt's 12th District seat official, according to Federal Election Commission documents made public this week.

Watt is President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Federal Housing Finance Administration. If confirmed, a Democratic frenzy is expected in the race to replace him.

A campaign treasurer for Brandon, a High Point political consultant, filed papers May 1, the day the president announced Watt's appointment, to create the Marcus Brandon for Congress political committee, the first step needed to raise money for a potential bid.

George Battle III adds name to potential candidate list

Add another name for the potential vacancy in the 12th Congressional District.

George Battle III says he's considering a run for the seat that could be vacated by Democratic Rep. Mel Watt. Watt is President Obama's choice to lead the Housing Finance Agency. "I'm listening to people," Battle says. "I'm flattered folks think enough of me to even mention my name.”

Battle, 40, is the son of Bishop George Battle Jr., a former school board chairman. He's general counsel for Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. Among other potential candidates in the overwhelmingly Democratic district: state Sen. Malcom Graham of Charlotte and Reps. Rodney Moore of Charlotte, Alma Adams of Greensboro, Marcus Brandon of High Point and Ed Hanes of Winston-Salem. --Jim Morrill, Observer staff writer

Republicans launch early TV ad against Congressman Mike McIntyre

Democratic Congressman Mike McIntyre already is facing fire from the Republican group that tried unsuccessfully to oust him in the 2012 election. The National Republican Congressional Committee announced Wednesday it is airing a new TV ad criticizing the 7th District lawmaker for his recent budget vote.

The move comes days after the NRCC-backed candidate from 2012, former state Sen. David Rouzer, said he would challenge McIntyre in 2014. The Democrat was the only to win a targeted congressional race in North Carolina last year. See the ad script below.

Meadows supports some form of legal status for illegal immigrants

N.C. Congressman Mark Meadows is joining U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's call for Republicans to shift their immigration talk.

In a letter to the senator, Meadows and colleagues endorse a three-legged stool platform that includes securing the county's borders, expanding legal immigration with a focus on high-skilled workers and a legal status that may fall short of full citizenship for illegal immigrants in the United States. Meadows represents the 11th District in western North Carolina.

The letter endorsed Paul's statement that the GOP must embrace legal immigration and conservative Republicans need to "become part of the solution" to the issue. "We believe such an approach would put the broader health of our economy -- not entrenched special interests -- at the forefront of this debate," the letter reads.


Ellmers: GOP men made mistakes that costed party in 2012

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers said the Republican Party -- particularly its men -- made "unnecessary mistakes" that cost the party the presidential election.

Ellmers, a Republican who represents Dunn, argued that her party needed to focus more on President Barack Obama's record, particularly when it comes to appealing to women.

"As Republican women, we know what it takes to care for our families. We are the ones managing the household budgets, fighting for our children's education, and searching for the best healthcare for our loved ones. The policy issues that are affecting our nation affect us on a personal level and mimic the same tough choices we are faced with every day," Ellmers said in a Yahoo News chat Thursday about how the GOP can better appeal to women voters. "Oddly, enough, many of the mistakes were made by the men in our party. And this only fueled the misconception that the GOP does not care about women."

Morning Memo: Questions mount on MetLife incentives deal

FIVE DAYS LATER, McCRORY STILL SILENT ON ROLE IN METLIFE DEAL: Five days after the MetLife jobs announcement, Gov. Pat McCrory and the governor's office remains quiet on what role he played in luring the company even as questions mount. Consider this lead sentence from AP story Friday: "Gov. Pat McCrory avoided questions Friday about the state offering MetLife Inc. $94 million in tax breaks and other incentives to move thousands of jobs to North Carolina and using his former employer to help broker the deal." The Friday announcement was the second time in two days that McCrory dodged reporters' questions. The governor appears at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources today for a 12:30 p.m. announcement. Will he break his silence?

QUESTIONS MOUNT ABOUT THE INCENTIVES: At the same time, Charlotte area officials are raising questions about whether the incentives were even necessary to lure the company to the city, where half the 2,600 jobs will be located. On Saturday, less than 24 hours after a press conference announcing the deal, county commissioners questioned whether MetLife knew it was coming to Charlotte before commissioners on Tuesday gave preliminary approval for the incentives.

Commissioners Chairwoman Pat Cotham said questions about the timing of the incentives vote started to enter her mind when news broke that the company had picked North Carolina and media events were arranged – only two days after the commissioners voted. Later, she learned that some MetLife executives had already been picking out schools and colleges for their children. “In my opinion, the deal was done when we first learned of it and voted for incentives,” Cotham, a Democrat, wrote in her first email to commissioners on Saturday.

***Good morning and thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for N.C. political news and analysis. Read much more below.***
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