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Morning Memo: McCrory's approval slips again, as he defends voter ID and prepares veto pen

ALERT: PAT McCRORY'S APPROVAL RATING FALLS TO 39 PERCENT A new Public Policy Polling survey set for release later Thursday shows the Republican governor's approval rating dipping to the 30s for the first time in his term. It's a slight slip from a month earlier but indicates his approval rating is not improving as he signs controversial legislation on abortion, voter ID and guns. The Raleigh-based Democratic firm found McCrory's approval at 39 percent and disapproval at 51 percent. Another 10 percent are unsure. The numbers represent a huge point slide from when he took office in January with a 45 percent approval and 19 percent disapproval rating.

Another number in the poll suggests half of voters believe he broke his campaign pledge on abortion. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. Check Dome later today for more numbers.

NEW YORK TIMES A1 HEADLINE: North Carolinians fear the end of a middle way: The story rehashes the rightward shift from the legislative session and focuses on Pat McCrory's tough spot. Campbell Robertson writes: "In an interview, Mr. McCrory said that critics had obscured what he called a pragmatic and fiscally responsible agenda. “It’s a combination of people on the two extremes wanting to bring up and exaggerate controversial issues,” he said, adding that he had pushed back against earlier versions of the abortion and tax bills, and was planning to veto other bills this week." Read the full story here.

***The governor keeps threatening a veto. Find out the likely target below in the Dome Morning Memo. And get his thoughts on the voter ID bill.***

1376508601 Morning Memo: McCrory's approval slips again, as he defends voter ID and prepares veto pen The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

New York Times editorial page blog on voting/elections bill

There's no love lost between the state's Republican leadership and the New York Times editorial board, especially after its "Decline of North Carolina" editorial of July 9. Gov. Pat McCrory wrote a letter to the paper objecting. Sen. Tom Apodaca declared that he didn't read the Times.

But that isn't stopping the paper's editorial board, which posted an item on its blog declaring "North Carolina: First in Voter Suppression."

The legislature last week passed a giant package of voting and elections changes which will require photo ID at the polls, won't allow college students to use their school ID cards, will ban pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds, among other changes.

McCrory said Friday he will sign the bill even though he wasn't familiar with some of the details.

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.

Morning Memo: McCrory's taxing pledge; Tillis super PAC money questioned

TAX BILL NOW PUTS FOCUS ON McCRORY: Gov. Pat McCrory pledge in his campaign to make any tax overhaul revenue neutral. It was the only specific detail he offered and came under pressure from Democratic candidate Walter Dalton who warned such a tax bill, if not revenue neutral, could lead to huge cuts in government spending on popular services.

With legislative approval Wednesday, the two-billion tax bill goes to the governor. Will he meet his pledge, one he repeated just months ago in his State of the State address? It depends. The governor's office called the bill fiscally responsible and essentially revenue-neutral in the first year at about $35 million in less revenue. From there, the bill is nowhere close to bringing in as much state revenue as projected. And McCrory is moving the goalposts and redefining what he meant. (Read below to see how the governor's office is positioning itself.)

TILLIS SUPER PAC GETS BIG CHECKS FROM 3 HE HELPED PUT ON UNC BOARD: A super PAC for House Speaker Thom Tillis recently raised $105,000 from five donors for his U.S. Senate race, including $70,000 from three men the House appointed to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

The contributions raise more questions about whether donations to the Republican candidate’s bid are connected to legislation in the chamber he controls. They also highlight Tillis’ ability to raise money when other lawmakers are limited in soliciting campaign contributions. W.G. Champion Mitchell said his $25,000 contribution had nothing to do with his recent appointment to the university’s governing board. “I want to see him be our next senator,” Mitchell said. “That is the answer.” Read more here.

***Get a full roundup of North Carolina political news and analysis below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Claude Pope to NYT: Quit Picking on Us Hillbillies

State GOP Chairman Claude Pope has submitted an open letter responding to The New York Times editorial which expressed anguish about North Carolina's decline as a leader in the South.

"Thank you New York Times," writes Pope. "We Southern hillbillies are always honored when the Old Gray Lady's beacons of intelligence bestow their political wisdom from on high.''

"And why shouldn't we be eager to heed your advice on critical legislative matters pending in the Tar Heel state? After all, you've stood courageously against some of humanity's most imminent threats - lie soda. Does the thought of hiking taxes on North Carolina's job creators make your Ivy League hearts flutter as as fast a new tax on Dr. Pepper? It must. Why else would you be so serious about leaving the unemployed stuck in poverty, instead of helping them climb out of if by creating new jobs?''

McCrory responds to scathing New York Times editorial

Earlier this week, a New York Times editorial slammed the Republican takeover of North Carolina government, saying since McCrory took office Republicans have dismantled the state’s progressive reputation. On Saturday, the Times published McCrory’s letter to the editor in response.

Morning Memo: McCrory raises eyebrows; Tillis' watches late amendment fail

GOV. McCRORY SAID WHAT? The Wilson Times reported this week that Gov. Pat McCrory said he has often entered the crowds that gather in the capital city to protest the Republican agenda and policies. He said he even got a good cussing by protesters. But in the age of mobile phone cameras and instant posting to social media, the governor seems to have moved in and out of the throngs without anyone capturing his interaction on video or film.

DID HE MISSPEAK?: Repeated efforts Thursday to reach McCrory’s spokeswoman, Kim Genardo, were unsuccessful. More here.

UPDATED: WITH TILLIS WATCHING, COMMERCE COMMITTEE REJECTS LATE CHANGE TO WORKERS COMP BILL: Late Thursday, after seven hours of legislative debate, the House commerce committee held an impromptu meeting to hear a measure that attracted the attention of House Speaker Thom Tillis, who attended the meeting. (No reporters were in the room, so this first report comes from lobbyists who were there.) Republican leaders apparently wanted to amend a worker's compensation bill (SB 614) to prohibit professional athletes from filing injury claims. But the attempt to add the language failed by a 10-27 vote in the Republican-dominated committee. Harold Brubaker, a former House speaker and now lobbyist who represents the NFL Players Association, helped defeat the effort. Tillis represents the Charlotte area and the Carolina Panthers supposedly wanted this bill. But a Tillis spokesman said Friday the speaker wasn't pushing the bill.

ALSO LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: The contentious House RECLAIM NC Act -- an immigration bill that gives driving permits to those in the country illegally but also subjects some immigrants to temporary detention -- is now on the House calendar for Monday.

***This is the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for N.C. political news. The New York Times is taking another deep look at North Carolina. Read more about it below.***

Morning Memo: As House votes on abortion bill, what will McCrory do?

ABORTION DEBATE DOMINATES AGENDA: N.C. House lawmakers will focus on social issues Thursday, scheduling a three-hour debate on an abortion bill that critics say will restrict access but supporters argue is aimed at safety standards. Republicans will get one hour to push the measure while Democrats will get two hours to rebutt the controversial bill that is putting North Carolina in the national spotlight along with Texas. The House convenes at 11 a.m.

VETO THREAT: Pandering or real? Republican Gov. Pat McCrory publicly warned on Wednesday morning that he would reject the Senate’s bill unless his public health agency’s concerns about it were resolved. The threat came even as his administration and key House members were signing off on a rewrite of the bill, which was unveiled less than two hours later in a legislative committee. His statement came at 8:30 a.m. A House committee took up the new bill two hours later. The move allowed McCrory to appear like a hero to womens rights groups who had pushed him to uphold his campaign pledge not to sign new abortion restrictions into law. But his legislative team likewise worked with House members to craft the new measure those groups oppose. The question now: Will he sign or allow the newest bill to become law?

***Read a scene-setter on the abortion legislation and more North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: All eyes on the House, NAACP fires back at McCrory

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The budget and tax watch continues. House and Senate lawmakers are negotiating on both issues this week hoping to break the logjam. Some movement may emerge later this week. In House committees, lawmakers will discuss a power shift at the Charlotte airport, a sweeping bill to weaken environmental protections and consider four election-related bills. With the election bills, it’s not so much what’s in them now -- but how they may get amended. Talk is rampant about an highly-controversial omnibus elections bill. The chambers convene at 2 p.m. The abortion bill is in limbo but not likely to come to a House vote Wednesday -- though stranger things have happened. After a one-day delay, the Senate will debate a bill to impose drug testing and background checks on some welfare recipients.

NAACP PRESIDENT CALLS McCRORY REMARKS 'DISINGENUOUS': Gov. Pat McCrory's take on "Moral Mondays" didn't sit well with Rev. William Barber, the N.C. NAACP president who is leading the weekly demonstrations. In a statement, Barber said McCrory is trying to "play nice and move away from his original comments about Moral Monday protestors being outsiders." He compared McCrory's words to George Wallace, who dismissed segregation as a few isolated instances.

***Read more reaction below -- and get the latest North Carolina political news and analysis -- in today's Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: With jobless benefits expiring, focus on Moral Monday protest

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: How big will Moral Monday get? That's the top question today at the statehouse. Now in the ninth week, the protests are expected to grow because long-term unemployment benefits end Monday for more than 70,000 workers thanks to a bill approved by the Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory. A rainy weather forecast may dampen the demonstration.

With the House not holding full sessions this week, the Senate is moving forward. At 2 p.m., the Senate Finance Committee will meet to look at the chamber's tax plan again. It is expected to send it back to the floor, where it will get a final vote this week and start the conference process on an issue that has stymied Republicans. The full Senate starts at 7 p.m.

UPDATED: McCrory released a public schedule later in the morning saying he would attend the swearing in ceremony for utilities board members.

CHRISTENSEN: Tax debate cherry picks statistics. In his Sunday column, Rob Christensen looks at the motivation for tax reform, picking apart the numbers to conclude: "There may be a legitimate argument for tinkering with the tax code – making sure corporate taxes are not out of line with neighboring states. But the link between lowering taxes and a booming state economy is weak. ...

So what is the value to having one of the lowest business tax rates, if you jeopardize the state’s quality of life? Those business executives don’t just want to move businesses here, but they want to live here as well." Full story.

***Find many more political headlines below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

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