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Party on

Anyone would be forgiven for thinking the legislature is still in session with all the lawmakers still wandering around Raleigh this month. For folks who like hanging out with politicians and have a few thousand dollars lying around, there are enough political fundraisers to fill a social calendar.

House Democrats invited folks to a social spot on Fayetteville Street last week. Top dollar "benefactor" tickets went for $5,000. The lowest cost ticket was $250.

Republican Reps. Mike Hager of Rutherfordton and Jacqueline Schaffer of Charlotte were at Tyler's Taproom on Tuesday. High dollar, $4,000; low dollar, $250. It was not a joint event, so donors were asked to aim their checks at individual campaign committees. Republican Reps. Tom Murry of Morrisville, Tim Moffitt of Asheville, and Susan Martin of Wilson were at Natty Greene's Wednesday night. ("Three M's are better than One!" said the invite.) Again, not a joint event. $250 to $4,000.

The House Republican Freshman Caucus is having a fundraiser Aug. 27 at the Carolina Country Club ($250 to $2,000, contribute to individual committees) featuring Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican and House GOP caucus leader who is on the list of potential House Speakers. That will roll immediately into a House GOP Caucus fundraiser at the country club ($150 to $10.000) The $10,000 platinum hosts will get a dozen tickets to the VIP and general receptions.

McCrory, GOP make last-minute push to lift state's fracking moratorium

UPDATED: Gov. Pat McCrory came to the legislative building Wednesday evening to whip votes on a newly crafted measure to lift the state's moratorium on fracking.

The fracking provision -- which would lift the moratorium July 1, 2015 -- is tucked into a proposed conference report on Senate Bill 127, a measure to reorganize the state's commerce department and privatize part of the state's job recruitment efforts.

The new measure would authorize the state to start issuing permits for shale gas exploration, a major priority for McCrory and Senate Republicans, according to a copy obtained by Dome. But it cannot do so until rules are made, bill supporters said.

House GOP caucus revolt blocks tax overhaul efforts

UPDATED: A split in the House Republican Caucus exploded into the open Wednesday morning, throwing a major tax bill into further jeopardy.

House Republican leaders, led by Speaker Thom Tillis, sought to strip a provision added to the bill a day earlier that added $500 million in cost. But a cadre of Republicans and Democrats joined forces in the Appropriations Committee to block a proposed substitute bill from even being considered.

The move left the House tax overhaul -- the top GOP agenda item this session -- in limbo and the lawmakers bewildered. Committee Chairman Nelson Dollar left the meeting dumbfounded and unable to find the words to explain what happened. Other clumps of Republicans huddled in the corners of the committee room, discussing one of the largest fissures in the Republican Caucus this session.

Bert Jones, one-time independent, to seek No. 2 House post

State Rep. Bert Jones, a Rockingham Republican, announced Thursday he would seek the No. 2 post in the House, making it a three-way race.

Jones, 50, was first elected as an independent in 2010 and chose to caucus with Republicans. He ran for re-election this year as a Republican. He is competing for speaker pro tem against two veterans -- House GOP leader Paul "Skip" Stam and committee chairwoman Julia Howard -- but says his relative inexperience is an asset.

A third candidate emerges for House Republican leader

The House GOP power struggle is becoming more intriguing as a third candidate emerged for Republican majority leader: Rep. Edgar Starnes.

Starnes, a nine-term lawmaker and committee chairman from Hickory, said he is seeking the post regardless of whether the Republican caucus decides to split the job -- as it will discuss in Saturday's meeting.

If it is split, Starnes said he would make a bid for the day-to-day operations role, managing the caucus and running the Republican agenda on the floor.

"I've seen a lot of leaders come and a lot of leaders go and I think I have an idea of what the caucus needs and I think that my leadership style will best suit the members," he said in an interview Wednesday.

Howard to challenge Stam for No. 2 post in N.C. House

A contest is emerging for the No. 2 spot in the N.C. House. Rep. Julia Howard, a 12-term veteran and committee chairwoman, said she would challenge House GOP leader Paul "Skip" Stam for the speaker pro tem job.

Howard cited her previous leadership experience as majority whip and  she would use the position to help orient the large incoming freshman class. "I have no agenda," the Mocksville Republican said.

Howard also made a point to say she has no interest in running for House speaker in 2014, when Thom Tillis is expected to relinquish the position under self-imposed term limits. "I will be totally focused," she said.

David Lewis making calls in run for House GOP leader

State Rep. David Lewis, a committee chairman, is running for House GOP leader. He is making calls to Republican lawmakers saying he wants to serve alongside Ruth Samuelson

Republican are considering splitting the majority leader post. Lewis wants the operations end of the job that would run the daily calendar and manage the caucus agenda. Samuelson is campaigning for the bigger picture strategic job.

Samuelson announces bid for House GOP leader

Ruth Samuelson is making a bid for Republican leader in the N.C. House.

The Charlotte lawmaker emailed her colleagues Wednesday and asked for their support for majority leader. And if the caucus decides to split the two positions -- an unprecedented move to have two majority leaders -- Samuelson wants to take the "development" post that will put her in charge of strategic messaging, professional development and campaign fundraising.

"We had great success yesterday and I would like to continue to use that experience to make us stronger as a team," she wrote in the email.

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