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Morning Memo: Cooper's unofficial debut; peek inside GOP voters' minds

ROY COOPER'S DEBUT: Attorney General Roy Cooper is the featured speaker Saturday morning at the N.C. Democratic Party's Western Gala. The speech at the women's breakfast will serve as his unofficial debut in the 2016 governor's race. In recent weeks, Cooper has made his intentions to run clear and the event will give him a platform to begin gathering Democratic support as other party challengers emerge. Later in the evening, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and R.T. Rybak, the vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will speak at the party fundraiser.

***A must-read analysis of Republicans and its potential impact on the N.C. Senate race below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Harris stakes his ground; GOP lawmaker presses McCrory

HARRIS DECLARES HE'S THE SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE IN THE RACE: The Rev. Mark Harris, a leading social conservative, entered the North Carolina Senate race Wednesday, setting up a potential insider/outsider GOP primary showdown next May with House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Harris, the outgoing president of the state Baptist Convention, said he would campaign as a staunch advocate for lowering taxes, reducing government, ending Obamacare and protecting gun rights, that he would back measures that he believes would improve “traditional moral values.” Read more here.

GOP SENATOR SAYS McCRORY ADMINISTRATION IS BREAKING THE LAW: A high-ranking Republican state senator said Wednesday that Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration is flouting the law. Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, complained that McCrory hasn’t named an independent Unemployment Review Board to review decisions on unemployment benefits made by the state Division of Employment Security. Rucho’s remarks came during a legislative committee meeting where lawmakers were questioning Dale Folwell, the agency’s head. Read more here.

***Read more on the Harris announcement and a North Carolina political roundup below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Hundreds furloughed; U.S. Senate candidates make moves

HUNDREDS OF STATE WORKERS FURLOUGHED: The federal government shutdown caused the furlough of hundreds of state government workers whose jobs are fully or partially federally funded Tuesday, and state officials said several thousand more jobs could be be affected.

The state Department of Health and Human Services told 337 employees not to show up for work Wednesday morning. Officials said as many 4,500 DHHS workers could be furloughed or see their hours reduced. There was also a smaller furlough in the Department of Transportation, and a small group of workers at the state Labor Department saw their hours slashed in half.

#NCSEN DAY: The Republican challengers in the U.S. Senate race are all making moves this week to position themselves. Charlotte Pastor Mark Harris enters the race today, Thom Tillis is hiring staff and Greg Brannon is touting fundraising numbers.

***Read all the U.S. Senate race news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Let the shutdown politics begin

THEN SHUT IT DOWN: The U.S. government started shutting down early Tuesday after a bitter fight over the new health care law deadlocked the Congress and stymied every attempt to keep money flowing after the federal fiscal year ended at midnight. It was the first such collapse of the government in nearly two decades and there was no immediate way to know how long it would last or how it would end. Read more here.

NOW BLAME GAME BEGINS: Hours after the partial shutdown, the blame game started, with Democrats and Republicans trying to say the other party was responsible. North Carolina congressmen are in the crosshairs.

***Read more shutdown politics and a look at what Gov. Pat McCrory did as the impasse and a federal lawsuit against the state loomed -- it's all below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

National GOP tests attack lines against Kay Hagan

National Republicans are outlining their attack points against U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan as it seeks to oust her in 2014, labeling her as ineffective and out of step with North Carolina voters.

In a political memo released Monday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is pushing their calculation of Hagan's performance, saying she's "the most ineffective senator in North Carolina's history" by showing the number of bills she sponsored or cosponsored that became law.

Morning Memo: Feds to challenge N.C. voting law; Senate candidates scrap for cash

FEDS TO CHALLENGE NORTH CAROLINA’S VOTING LAW: The U.S. Department of Justice will file a lawsuit Monday to stop North Carolina’s new voter ID law, which critics have said is the most sweeping law of its kind, according to a person briefed on the department’s plans.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who has said he will fight state voting laws that he sees as discriminatory, will announce the lawsuit at noon Monday, along with the three U.S. attorneys from the state. Critics said the law will disenfranchise African-American and elderly voters, while the Republican-led General Assembly in Raleigh said the law will protect the state’s voters from potential fraud.

***Read more on the forthcoming lawsuit, get #NCSEN updates and a roundup of North Carolina political headlines below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: GOP Senate hopefuls take hard line on defunding Obamacare

North Carolina’s Republican U.S. Senate candidates are taking a hard line on federal budget negotiations – a position that puts them at odds with the state’s lone GOP senator, Richard Burr.

Four Republican candidates said Monday they support efforts to defund the federal health care act, apparently even if those efforts lead to a government shutdown. Their comments came the same day state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger announced he won’t join those running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Kay Hagan.

***Read more from the GOP candidates -- reaction to Berger's decision -- below in today's Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Mark Harris jumbles U.S. Senate race

SHOT ACROSS THE BOW? HARRIS STARTS SENATE CAMPAIGN: Rev. Mark Harris, who would be a first-time candidate, plans to appeal to conservative voters who share his values."My challenge will be to stay on that message," he said. "I don’t have to get up in the morning to read the newspaper to figure out what I believe (or) see the latest poll to see what I should believe …"

***Read more on Harris' campaign and analysis from Washington on the state's important 2014 Senate race below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

GOP Senate field is wide open

The Republican Senate field is very unsettled as Senate leader Phil Berger weighs getting into the race, according to a new poll.

Most Republicans(43 percent) say they have not yet made up their mind, according to a new survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic leaning firm based in Raleigh.

Berger has the support of 13 percent, followed by House Speaker Thom Tillis with 12 percent, and former U.S. Ambassador Jim Cain with 11 percent. Other candidates or potential candidates include Heather Grant(8 percent), Mark Harris(7 percent) Greg Brannon(6 percent) and Lynn Wheeler(6 percent.)

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan would defeat Berger by a 53-36 percent margin and would defeat Tillis by a 51-36 percent margin.

Hagan has an approval rating of 43 percent -- considered low for an incumbent -- and a disapproval rating of 39 percent with 18 percent uncertain.

Most people(57 percent) have never heard of Berger. His favorable rating is 10 percent and his unfavorable rating is 33 percent. For Tillis, 14 percent have a favorable opinion, 32 percent unfavorable, with 54 percent having never heard of him.

The poll of 600 likely voters was taken Sept. 6-9. The margin of error was 4 percent overall and for the GOP portion was 5.6 percent.

Morning Memo: Dems eager to replace Kinnaird; GOP's barbs in Senate fight

FOUR CANDIDATES SEEKING KINNAIRD SENATE SEAT: State Rep. Valerie Foushee and three others announced Wednesday their intent to seek state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird’s District 23 seat. The other candidates for Kinnaird’s seat that emerged Wednesday were retiring Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton; author and educator Amy Tiemann, and former Alamance County Rep. Alice Bordsen. Read more on the candidates here.

TODAY IN POLITICS: The country's former top military officer and the head of an Internet giant are the main attractions at a gathering of North Carolina business executives that will draw Gov. Pat McCrory. The CEO Forum is scheduled for Thursday at North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh. Former U.S. Secretary of State and retired Gen. Colin Powell is speaking along with Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers. McCrory will attend the event at 8 a.m.

***More North Carolina political news from the U.S. Senate race below in the Dome Morning Memo. Send news and tips to capitol@newsobserver.com.***

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