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Morning Memo: Controversial bills bubble up, Wos again in the spotlight

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: As the final two days of the self-imposed crossover deadline begin, it's crunch time. You can tell from the lobbyists working the halls, either trying to get a bill to move or asking committee chairman to "pray on it" for a little while longer. And the controversial bills are coming the surface. A House committee will consider a bill to extend "protections of conscience" to more medical professionals and cover more things, such as providing contraception. In the same committee, another measure dubbed the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" is sure to recall attempts earlier this session to declare the state's ability to establish an official religion.

The full House - which convenes near 2 p.m. -- will also consider a bill to soften rules on where local governments must post public notices. A controversial amendment would tell newspapers how much they could charge for such advertisements. The Senate this afternoon will consider measures to amend environmental regulations and repeal local smoking bans. Gov. Pat McCrory is spending another day in New Orleans at a Republican Governor's Association event.

WOS ROADSHOW CONTINUES: A week after a major gaffe by Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos, her statewide tour to tout Medicaid reforms continues. She visits Durham on Wednesday where she will encounter members of the Medical Professionals for Expanded Health Access who expect to question her about the state's decision to reject a Medicaid expansion. Wos blamed Democratic Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin for the decision -- even though it was ultimately made by her boss, Gov. Pat McCrory. The event starts at 4 p.m.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- a roundup of North Carolina political news and notes. Send tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Congressman McIntyre may face Democratic primary challenger

National Republicans are gleefully cheering the news that Democratic Congressman Mike McIntyre is likely to face a primary challenger.

New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield, the only Democrat on the board, announced his candidacy Tuesday. “It’s right politically, as well as for my family right now,” he told the Wilmington Star-News. “My middle daughter will be in college next year and I talked to my wife about it and we agreed that now is the time."

“I wanted to put the word out now and let people know who I am and what I’m about. I wanted to let people know what my intentions are,” Barfield continued. “It’s always good to be out there first.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee's spokeswoman Katie Prill sent an email asking: "So is this the bittersweet end for Mike McIntyre? Not only has the NRCC announced that McIntyre will be a top target for the 2014 election cycle, now he is facing a tough primary challenge."

NRCC debuts new ad against Mike McIntyre

With Paul Ryan's controversial budget playing in local congressional races, Republicans are pushing back with the same offensive as visible in the presidential race.

It's evident in the newest ad from the National Republican Campaign Committee hitting Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre. The ad --which is running in the Raleigh and Wilmington TV markets, the committee said -- focuses on Medicare and whether Republicans or Democrats want to "save" it. Click here to see ad.

Ellmers versus national Republican committee

ELLMERS SNUB: Even before it's certain that Renee Ellmers will go to Washington as the new congresswoman from North Carolina's 2nd District, she is showing a vigorous streak of independence from her party's establishment. (N&O)

GRIM PICTURE FOR UNC: UNC system President Erskine Bowles painted a bleak picture Thursday of the UNC system if the more severe of two budget-cutting scenarios is necessary. As many as 1,700 jobs could be lost, he said, and closing a campus is not out of the realm of possibility. (N&O)

ELLMERS LEADS BY 1,646: State officials straightened out a vote counting glitch in Sampson County, but the 2nd District Race appears to be headed for a recount. (N&O)

Wrenn on 'Who are you?' video

Carter Wrenn said today he wasn’t surprised by the revelation in the New York Times about the national Republicans being behind guerrilla tactics aimed at incumbent Democrats.

Last summer, Wrenn recalled, the National Republican Campaign Committee initially told the Renee Ellmers campaign they didn’t know who the trackers were with the video camera trained on Bob Etheridge in Washington.

That changed once Ellmers posted her own YouTube response. Her video urged Etheridge to apologize to the young men “in person.” After the clip went online, the NRCC called the campaign back and asked Ellmers to change the language, Wrenn recalled. That was when he learned that the committee knew the videographers.

“I’d known they knew it in June,” said Wrenn, who has been a consultant to the Ellmers campaign.

Wrenn said he advised the national committee to tell the press, and warned them that he would be doing exactly that. He called local reporters and told them what he knew.

“You don’t mislead the press,” Carter told reporter Barb Barrett today. “It’s silly.”

After the flap with the NRCC, “they didn’t do anything to help Ellmers,” Carter said.

“We asked them the other day to help with the recount with a contribution,” he said. “I asked, they said 'no,' and I moved on.”

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