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Morning Memo: GOP faces messy veto politics, with Tillis in spotlight

UPDATED: THE POLITICS OF THE VETO: In pushing to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s of an immigration bill in coming days, Republicans find themselves in the middle of a political mess. The bill won near unanimous approval in the state Senate (43-1) but a solid block of conservative House Republicans voted against it (85-28). Now that McCrory has framed the bill as an anti-immigration conservative test, will that change? A leading Republican -- who voted no -- says the vote isn’t likely to change. And another no vote, GOP Rep. Frank Iller, issued a statement Tuesday saying the bill "opens up too many loopholes in the eVerify system."

EYES ON TILLIS: But what will Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis do? Political analyst John Davis said the race is too "fragile" for Tillis to upset the conservatives in his party. "Tillis cannot make any mistakes especially with the right," David said. "By rushing back into the arena and trying to override McCrory’s veto on the immigration bill, he does risk alienating some members of the Republican Party who are very, very sensitive about this issue."

***More on the 2014 U.S. Senate race -- and the potential Republican field -- below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Rural Center questions continue, First Lady steps out

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: In committees, a number of contentious measures are being considered for discussion only. The House Finance Committee will review a taxpayer bill of rights, known as TABOR, that would constitutionally limit state spending. The Senate Education Committee will look at a House-approved bill to give students with disabilities vouchers to attend private schools. Senate lawmakers will also hear a bill in the Finance Committee that critics argue would allow mega-dumps and attract out-of-state trash. Also, the House Commerce Committee will roll out a major bill on Gov. Pat McCrory's agenda to reorganize the state commerce department.

In a rare appearance, First Lady Ann McCrory will step into the spotlight and hold her first news conference to ask the Senate to pass a watered down measure to regulate so-called puppy mills. The House approved the bill but the Senate has sat on it for a month without action. Her event is at 3:30 p.m. at the mansion. Gov. McCrory will have breakfast with lawmakers and then host his education cabinet at 1 p.m.

RURAL CENTER UNDER FIRE: Several board members of the taxpayer-funded N.C. Rural Economic Development Center said this week they are concerned about practices brought to light in a recent News & Observer series and welcome additional oversight.Rural Center leaders, however, said the newspaper reports do not properly reflect the organization’s work.

***More on the Rural Center controversy -- and the N.C. Democratic Party troubles, as well as a headline only Asheville could do best -- below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Crossover week begins at #NCGA; Ben Carson to visit Raleigh

Welcome to Crossover Week on Jones Street. Think the action’s been fast so far? Well, hold onto our elephant ears, this week lawmakers will be shoveling as many bills as possible through committee and out to their floors for a vote to meet a Thursday deadline dubbed crossover.

The House and Senate rules say that bills that don’t raise or spend money or propose amendments to the state constitution must pass either the House or Senate by Thursday to be considered during the session. Of course, rules are made to be circumvented, so there are many ways to keep legislation alive. Dome’s favorite: Strip a bill that has already crossed over of its language and insert your bill of choice.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Read more about the issues hanging in the balance this week at the legislature. And send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Charlotte cites $163 million economic boost from Democratic convention

Charlotte city leaders have announced that last year’s Democratic National Convention produced an economic impact of $163.6 million, with $91 million in direct spending.

Officials hired a private firm to compile the numbers, and the results are scheduled to be made public during an afternoon news conference.

Estimates before the event were that 35,000 visitors would come to Charlotte, and that it would provide a $200 million boost to the local economy.

Morning Roundup: The N.C. political year in review

While North Carolina experienced a predicted blockbuster political year in 2012, the details weren't as anticipated by some.

Charlotte hosted North Carolina's first-ever major party national convention. A proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in North Carolina passed by a whopping 22 percentage points. And although it wasn't shocking that former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory was elected governor, the ease of his victory was surprising, as was his Democratic rival - Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, not Gov. Beverly Perdue. Read AP's political year in review here.

More political headlines below:

--North Carolina’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund, which has spent nearly $1 billion to clean up polluted waters and protect untainted ones, will face a dicey future as legislators convene in January.

--The N.C. House’s new Republican majority whip believes he has the votes to stop North Carolina’s green-energy mandate – the first in the Southeast when it was enacted in 2007 – in its tracks. Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County views the mandate as the government unfairly “picking winners and losers” in the marketplace. As chairman of the Public Utilities committee, Hager would like to freeze it at the current 3 percent level.

Morning Roundup: Minority businesses feel slighted by DNC contract process

Most of the minority entrepreneurs polled by an advocacy group said Democratic National Convention organizers controlled who would land work and who didn’t, despite a formal bidding process.

In an email poll sent to more than 400 people, 52 percent of respondents “felt that the DNC bid/contract process was rigged,” according to the survey from the Carolina Regional Minority Partnership Coalition. Full story here.

More political headlines below.

Morning Roundup: Candidates rhetoric in governor's race intensifies

Saying “there’s no more important governor’s race in the America,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie touted fellow Republican Pat McCrory and bashed his opponent Thursday at a rally. Christie joined McCrory in front of around 250 people at Catawba College, McCrory’s alma mater.

The visit underscores the GOP investment in the North Carolina race. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley also are expected to campaign with McCrory in coming weeks. Read full story.

More political headlines:

--Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton sharply escalated criticism of his Republican opponent, Pat McCrory, on Thursday, portraying him as beholden to special interests, against public schools and likely to target state workers.

--Charlotte’s host committee paid for one of the biggest Democratic convention expenses – $5 million for use of Time Warner Cable Arena – from a fund that accepted cash from corporations, even though President Barack Obama had instructed convention organizers to not use business money for the actual convention.

Morning Roundup: Obama camp says it's not leaving North Carolina

Democrats on Monday dismissed a suggestion by the top pollster for Republican Mitt Romney that President Barack Obama’s campaign is “laying the groundwork for a stealth withdrawal” from North Carolina.

The dueling claims came four days after the Democratic convention in Charlotte – and 56 before Election Day – as both sides jockeyed for the upper hand in North Carolina, a state Politico called Monday one of nine remaining presidential battlegrounds. Read more here.

Other political headlines this morning:

--Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton on Monday offered a jobs plan that he said avoids “rigid ideology” but includes a series of practical ideas that he said would help address North Carolina’s high unemployment rate.

Morning Roundup: The election battle is defined by 10 states

Get ready for an all-out brawl in 10 too-close-to-call battleground states as President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney begin a two-month sprint to Election Day.

They will deluge those states with personal visits, stacks of direct mail, automated phone calls and an unprecedented barrage of TV ads in tossup states Florida, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Michigan and Ohio. They'll probably all but ignore the rest of America. Read a breakdown here.

More political headlines:

--Young voters in North Carolina less excited than other age groups, poll shows.

Why all is not politically lost with Obama venue change

Even with the venue change Thursday, a national Democratic Party official said the Obama campaign still scored a political coup.

The roughly 65,000 who were expected at Bank of America Stadium gave the campaign their email addresses and cellphone numbers -- which will allow the campaign to target them directly in the closing two months of the presidential race.

"The effort to have the stadium event will not be a complete waste," said Brad Woodhouse, the Democratic National Committee communications director, at the convention Thursday.

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