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Young candidate says he'll challenge Rep. Stevens next year

Rep. Sarah Stevens, one of the key Republicans in the state House, will apparently have at least one challenger in the GOP primary next year.

George Wass, 19, says he will run against the three-term incumbent for the seat that covers Wilkes and Surry counties, according to The Mount Airy News. He will be 21 by the November election.

The paper reports that Wass is a recent graduate of the Surry Early College High School of Design. He said he’ll need all the time he can get to mount a successful campaign against the incumbent lawyer.

Stevens chairs or co-chairs several judiciary committees in the legislature, and has been closely allied with the GOP leadership in the House. She ran unopposed in 2012.

National media beats up on NC, and that's just fine with GOP

Judging by all the national media attention on North Carolina’s swing to the right – particularly the comedy TV show variety – you’d think the GOP was sunk.

But, funny as they may be, the national political jokesters might not be the best source of insight into the state’s future. At least that’s how the Republicans see it – to the contrary.

North Carolina will be leading a red-state resurgence, North Carolina GOP media strategist Marc Rotterman tells NPR blogger Alan Greenblatt. “I think McCrory is going to end up being one of the most popular governors in the country,” Rotterman is quoted saying in the It’s All Politics blog last week.

Greenblatt writes that Rotterman’s rosy outlook might be surprising, since the national view is that the controversial Republican legislature and McCrory would seem to make North Carolina “more ripe for Democrats, not less.”

Check it out here. .

Morning Memo: Bill Maher's screed rips North Carolina GOP

BILL MAHER RIPS NORTH CAROLINA A NEW ONE: Comedian and liberal commenter Bill Maher spent five minutes recapping North Carolina's rightward political shift concluding: "North Carolina is going ape $*!# in a way no other state has."

Maher introduces the clip comparing the state to a third world country "where Democracy itself hangs in the balance." He later blames Art Pope for the circumstances and suggested his guest Jay-Z ought to buy the state. See the clip above.

McCRORY WATCH: Gov. Pat McCrory hasn’t signed any bills in a week and there are 38 of them on his desk. Deadline to sign them is a minute before midnight on Sunday, Aug. 25. He signed a spate of legislation July 29.

***The biggest bill on his desk -- read about it below. Along with more North Carolina political news in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Wall St. Journal follows NYT with a love letter to NC GOP

The recent New York Times editorial lambasting North Carolina’s hard turn to the right met with apparent indifference in the General Assembly, where Republican Sen. Tom Apodaca said he cared more about what the Wall Street Journal thought. As if in response, the Journal’s editorial page came through with a piece on Friday praising Senate President Pro Tem’s Phil Berger’s tax plan.

“The burning heart of liberal activism and indignation this summer can be found, of all places, in the charming capital city of the Tar Heel State,” the Journal’s Stephen Moore writes.

Moore turns to the old “agitators” label for the “Moral Monday” protesters (avoiding the governor’s pitfall of also calling them “outsiders”), and concludes they’re mad about everything – especially the prospect of the GOP cutting back funding for some of the “left-wing groups sponsoring these rallies.”

Moore’s piece concludes that the Senate Republicans’ tax overhaul will spur growth and create jobs. What it means, politically, down the road in a swing state is an open question, he concedes.

“But as longtime Republican strategist Marc Rotterman told me last week, there is a potentially fatal flaw to the whole ‘Moral Monday’ strategy: ‘The core problem is the protesters are denouncing policies like tax cuts and welfare reforms that may be unpopular with the New York Times, but are very popular with mainstream North Carolinians.’” Moore writes. “That is the big bet the state's Republicans are making -- and come November 2014, we'll see if it pays off.”

Here’s the full article.

McCrory's national radio address underlines themes of economy, education and efficiency

Gov. Pat McCrory gave the GOP’s weekly radio address on Saturday morning, giving the newly elected North Carolina governor a bit of a national profile.

McCrory repeated the gist of his campaign themes and remarks he has made since taking office in January, saying North Carolina is working on reforms in the economy, education and efficiency.

Jamie Hahn succumbs to wounds; police seek murder charge

Jamie Hahn, a Democratic Party strategist and the wife of strategist Nation Hahn, died overnight from wounds suffering in a knife attack.

Raleigh police said they would seek a murder charge against a friend of the couple, Jonathan Broyhill.

The Wake County GOP issued this statement Wednesday morning:

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Jamie and Nation Hahn. Both are highly respected democratic party leaders and strategists active in Wake County and State politics. Regardless of our differing political views, it is our civic involvement and love of our community that binds us together. Please keep the Hahn’s in your thoughts in the wake of this senseless tragedy."

Morning Memo: McCrory closes Latino outreach office

North Carolina’s Latino advocates are voicing alarm following the governor’s decision to eliminate the state’s office for Latino affairs. The closing of the Office of Hispanic/Latino affairs was sudden and caught many by surprise. The move appears to have exacerbated the already tense relationship between Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the Latino community, including criticism over a driver’s license plan for young immigrants.

Advocates says it sends a message that McCrory and Raleigh conservatives are less concerned with the needs of the Latino community. Paradoxically, it comes at a time when issues of deep concerns, like immigration, are at the political forefront and Republicans nationally are trying to appear more welcoming to Latinos.

***Thanks for reading the Good Friday edition of the Dome Morning Memo. Send tips and news to dome@newsobserver.com. More on the Latino office and other big headlines below.***

Morning Roundup: Blueprint, cursive, DMV -- oh my!

It's Blueprint North Carolina's turn to be in the spotlight at least another day, as the head of the nonprofit group now says it didn't distribute the controversial strategy memo that offered options to discredit GOP leaders. He suggests political dirty tricks are at play.

A "Back to Basics" bill in the House would require students be taught cursive writing. (Holding an instrument called a pen or a pencil in your fingers and making looping figures on paper to form words and sentences -- before there were keyboards.)

DMV offices in Raleigh and two other cities will be open later on weeknights and on Saturday mornings, DOT Secretary Tony Tata announced. Ultimately, the expanded hours will be statewide.

Who donates to Blueprint?

As The Charlotte Observer reports Friday, Blueprint’s main donor – the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation – is upset at the organization’s strategy memo. The foundation gave Blueprint $425,000 in 2011, according to its most recent IRS filing.

Who else contributes to Blueprint?

Donors to nonprofit organizations are not part of the public file that goes to the IRS. But Blueprint included the information with its filing with the state as a charitable organization.

House GOP chooses leaders

The state House GOP caucus on Saturday, meeting in High Point, chose its leaders for the coming session.

Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam of Apex was promoted from majority leader to speaker pro tem. This will be his seventh term.The previous pro tem, Rep. Dale Folwell, left office to run unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor. The pro tem steps in to run sessions when the speaker is absent. Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius was re-elected to the post last month.

Rep. Edgar Starnes, from Caldwell County, was chosen Majority Leader. Starnes has been in the House since 1993.

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