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Morning Memo: GOP in power, today's big vote and a new political show

BIG VOTE TODAY: North Carolina children as young as 5 may soon be able to receive their public school education online from for-profit companies. The State Board of Education plans to vote Thursday on a special application for virtual schools that want to run public charters and receive taxpayer money. Full story here.

INAUGURATION FESTIVITIES GET UNDERWAY: Thursday marks the beginning of the traditional inauguration festivities. Council of State officials will get feted at a reception at 6 p.m. at the Progress Energy Center. The event is hosted by the Junior League of Raleigh and five companies with business before the state will sponsor: Charlotte Pipe and Foundry, Cisco Systems, Duke Energy, Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and the Hendrick Companies. It's just one of the few opportunities special interests will get to lobby the state's top officials this week.

***This is the Dome Morning Memo, a digest of the state's big political news with analysis the reads between the lines. Thanks for reading. Click below for more.***

NBC-17 sets Democratic primary gubernatorial debate, 3 nights, 3 debates

NBC-17 and the N.C. League of Women Voters have released details for the April 18th Democratic primary gubernatorial debate.

The one-hour debate will be held at 8 p.m.with Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, former Congressman Bob Etheridge, and state Rep. Bill Faison. The debate will be moderated by NBC-17 political reporter Kim Genardo and officiated by the League of Women Voters.

The debate will be made available to media across the state both online and over the air.

It will be the third consecutive night of TV debates for the Democrats -- three nights, three debates.

They will debate Monday, April 16th with WRAL, Tuesday April 17th at UNC-TV and Wednesday at NBC-17. On Thursday April 19th, the early voting period begins.

Burr wanted multiple candidates

Sen. Richard Burr's campaign says it was willing to hold a health care debate with the slate of potential Democratic opponents, but not elevate one candidate above the rest.

Paul Shumaker, Burr's consultant, wrote a letter to Democratic Senate candidate Kenneth Lewis of Durham, saying he could not participate in a forum with the N.C. Medical Society on Friday in Raleigh, Rob Christensen reports. Burr is scheduled to appear before a group of about 75 doctors.

Lewis, the only announced Democratic candidate, had challenged Burr, a Republican to a debate on health care. Burr had discussed a forum and had even talked about televising it with NBC-17.

But Shumaker said Burr decided to appear before the doctors alone, when Lewis was the only Democrat to respond to Burr's invitation.

More after the jump.

Quick Hits

* N&O editor John Drescher remembers another side of former Gov. Bob Scott — the politician who refused to answer a difficult question from a reporter.

* Greensboro News-Record columnist Doug Clark wonders why the public campaign finance system should spend $200,000 to elect a powerless schools superintendent.

* WUNC radio reporter Laura Leslie mourns the end of NBC-17's "At Issue" weekly political news show, praises hard work of anchor Kim Genardo.

* Blogger Dr. Frank argues that the legislature's balanced budget requirement may be too restrictive during a recession since suggested cuts aren't even close.

Hagan on Neal, Dole, etc.

State Sen. Kay Hagan speaks to NBC 17 in Carrboro about her run against Chapel Hill investment banker Jim Neal for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. A quick fact-check: Congress.org did not rank Sen. Elizabeth Dole 93rd; the consulting firm Knowlegis did, though the results were posted on Congress.org.

Hat Tip: Mark Binker

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