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Donna Brazile to speak at Lillian's List event

Lillian’s List of North Carolina, an advocacy group for pro-choice, female Democrats running for public office, will host DNC Vice Chairwoman Donna Brazile at its September 20 anniversary luncheon.

Brazile will serve as keynote speaker for the Lillian’s List 15 Year Anniversary Celebration Luncheon, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ritz Carlton in Charlotte. A VIP reception will follow, from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Woodhouse leaving post as chief Democratic spokesman

Raleigh native Brad Woodhouse is leaving his post as chief spokesman for the national Democratic Party.

Woodhouse has worked for five years as communications director of the Democratic National Committee, senior advisor to three party chairs and to the two Obama campaigns. His last day is Friday.

He will begin work as president of Americans United for Change, a post he held before joining the party.

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.***

Celebrating a good cause with the Woodhouse brothers

UPDATED (again): Brad Woodhouse made his original goal and now has increased it.

UPDATED: Dome was right about Dallas Woodhouse (read on to find out how).

Here at Dome, we've been wondering about the Woodhouse family holiday gathering. What is it like when Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, gathers to carve the turkey with his brother Dallas Woodhouse, the North Carolina state director for the conservative Americans for Prosperity?

Does one accidentally spill the gravy on the other? Who wins the wishbone contest? Is there elbow jostling as they pull it?

We remember a few years ago their mother Joyce telling an N&O reporter that she tries to get them to not talk politics at the holiday table. But she also told The N&O that "they still love each other."

And apparently, they can still be proud of each other. The evidence came today in a message that Dallas Woodhouse forwarded to various media saying: "Here is a note from my brother … watch ABC News this week." 

Democratic National chair in Raleigh on Friday

Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be in North Carolina Friday to campaign for the national ticket.

The Florida congresswoman will attend a Women for Obama grass roots event in the museum of contemporary art in downtown Raleigh Friday evening at 6 p.m.. On Saturday she will attend a kick off event for Women for Obama in Winston-Salem.

Dalton keeps it short

UPDATED: Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton gave a really brief greeting to Democratic National Committee delegates Thursday afternoon. It lasted a little more than a minute. 

Democratic Reps. G.K. Butterfield, David Price, and Mel Watt give abbreviated addresses, too. Dalton faces GOP nominee Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, in the race for governor. See what Dalton said below. It won't take long to read.

Liberal groups want to rain on Romney's parade across N.C.

Democrats and liberal groups want to rain on Mitt Romney's parade during his three-stop bus tour of North Carolina this weekend.

When Romney visits Smokey's BBQ Shack in Morrisville on Sunday afternoon -- his first public campaign stop in the Triangle area this campaign -- he'll be met by Raleigh members of MoveOn.

Weekend roundup: Get an insider's view of the John Edwards trial

The federal courtroom where John Edwards is on trial is not big enough for all the spectators. But those who are shut out can still get an insider’s view of exhibits being discussed. In an unusual move, Judge Catherine Eagles has asked the clerks to post exhibits already published to the jury on a public website. Read more here.

Other political headlines:

--The Democratic Party’s national chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, added her voice to the president’s by speaking out against North Carolina’s proposed marriage amendment. Prominent Democrats also want to put the legalization of same-sex marriage in the party platform.

--Christensen: When President Obama visited Chapel Hill last week, the theme running through national media stories was how difficult it is going to be for the president to win North Carolina again. Full column here.

Democratic convention in Charlotte will focus attention on gay rights

As Charlotte and North Carolina take the national spotlight for this year's Democratic National Convention, one area will get particular scrutiny: the region's climate for gays and lesbians.

September's convention comes on the heels of a statewide ballot question in May, where voters will decide whether a ban on same-sex marriage should be written into North Carolina's constitution. The timing highlights a possible source of tension come DNC time: Will lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) visitors feel welcome here? And what impressions of Charlotte will they take back with them to the rest of the nation?

"There's the potential that we're going to be greeted to the state with another one of those heinous marriage amendments," said Jerame Davis, interim executive director with the D.C.-based National Stonewall Democrats, a grassroots Democratic gay-rights organization. "That's definitely not putting out the welcome mat to LGBT people coming to the state."

Jeremy Kennedy is campaign manager with The Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families, which is organizing a grassroots statewide campaign focused on defeating the amendment. With plans to open a Charlotte office by the end of January, Kennedy said the group wants to build a lasting movement. Read more from The Charlotte Observer here.

As Democrats prep Charlotte, the GOP focuses on Florida

Even for a place that hosted four Super Bowls, a World Series and the Stanley Cup, next year's Republican National Convention is a big deal. "A Super Bowl on steroids," said Chuck Black, chairman of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

The bay area is flexing its big-game muscles for an event expected to draw 50,000 people and a worldwide audience next August, a week before the Democratic convention in North Carolina, reports The Charlotte Observer's Jim Morrill. The cities are the smallest convention hosts since Atlantic City in 1964, but the sites aren't a coincidence. Florida and North Carolina are key tossups in next year's presidential race, and the conventions could boost each candidate's fortunes in the host state.

Beyond politics, both cities are counting not only on the exposure but on more than $150 million in expected economic benefits to lift areas still mired in double-digit unemployment. As in Charlotte, Tampa organizers are deep into planning for the four-day event that starts Aug. 27. And like their Democratic counterparts, the Republicans are mum about many details. Read more here.

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