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Thom Tillis adds top fundraisers, political staff

U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis announced his top fundraisers Thursday, adding familiar North Carolina names to his campaign.

Former Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner, former Ambassador Dave Phillips, Bob Ingram and Harry Smith will lead the House speaker's finance team. Tillis will need to raise big bucks to win the four-way (for now) Republican primary and compete with incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan, who has a large campaign war chest.

Morning Memo: McCrory opposed to new casino; Hagan still trumps GOP rivals

McCRORY OPPOSES CATAWBA CASINO: The Catawba Nation has filed an application with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs in a first step toward gaining permission to build a casino and resort in Cleveland County. But Gov. Pat McCrory declined requests to endorse the application, a spokesman said Monday. In his first comments on the project, the governor's office said McCrory “remains unconvinced that any new casino proposal is in the best interest of North Carolina.” Read more here.

2014 U.S. SENATE POLL: Look for a new Public Policy Polling survey on North Carolina's U.S. Senate race later today. In a preview, Politico reports that Democrat Kay Hagan is still trumping her GOP rivals and Senate leader Phil Berger is slightly edging House Speaker Thom Tillis in a hypothetical GOP primary-- though nearly half of voters are still unsure.

***Get a full N.C. political news roundup below in the Dome Morning Memo. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Morning Memo: Bill Maher's screed rips North Carolina GOP

BILL MAHER RIPS NORTH CAROLINA A NEW ONE: Comedian and liberal commenter Bill Maher spent five minutes recapping North Carolina's rightward political shift concluding: "North Carolina is going ape $*!# in a way no other state has."

Maher introduces the clip comparing the state to a third world country "where Democracy itself hangs in the balance." He later blames Art Pope for the circumstances and suggested his guest Jay-Z ought to buy the state. See the clip above.

McCRORY WATCH: Gov. Pat McCrory hasn’t signed any bills in a week and there are 38 of them on his desk. Deadline to sign them is a minute before midnight on Sunday, Aug. 25. He signed a spate of legislation July 29.

***The biggest bill on his desk -- read about it below. Along with more North Carolina political news in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Personnel file: Robert Wilson, longtime state official, retiring

Robert Wilson, longtime assistant secretary of state and legislative liaison for the Secretary of State's office, is retiring next month, the Insider reports.

Wilson has worked in the Secretary of State's office since 1991. A 33-year veteran of state government, he also worked in the Department of Correction and community college system.

Personnel file: Robinson leaves Democratic Party, more expected

UPDATED: Walton Robinson, the spokesman for the N.C. Democratic Party, announced his resignation this week.

His statement sent Wednesday offered no explanation for his immediate departure after 15 months on the job. In an email Friday, Robinson said he is "leaving to pursue other professional opportunities. That's all." 

Executive Director Tammy Brunner said Friday that other staff reductions are expected, as is typical "in an election year such as this." Asked if the party's struggling financial situation affected the decision, Brunner said "as always finances play a role in the reduction of employees."

Personnel file: Holmes shifts to new role at state auditor's office

The changing of the guard in Raleigh will mean a number of personnel shifts in state government. One began before the election.

Bill Holmes left House Democratic leader Joe Hackney's office Nov. 1 for a new post as spokesman for State Auditor Beth Wood. The auditor's office current spokesman Dennis Patterson, a 12-year state employee veteran, is retiring at the end of the year. Patterson and Holmes are former Associated Press reporters.

Personnel file: Minges takes new job as leader of restaurant and lodging group

A high-ranking official in the N.C. Department of Commerce is leaving her post ahead of a change in administration. Lynn Minges starts Dec. 3 as president and CEO of the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, one of the largest and most  influential trade groups in Raleigh, one with significant interests before the state legislature. 

She worked in the commerce department for 20 years, most recently as assistant secretary for tourism, marketing and global branding. Minges, who lives in Raleigh, is a Bladen County native and graduate of Peace College and N.C. State University. 

Personnel file: Rabon elected chairman of MCNC

Tom Rabon has been elected chairman of MCNC, a nonprofit that operates the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN).

Rabon's new media firm, New Kind, played a role in the effort to block the constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions that was approved earlier this year in N.C.

Personnel file: School choice group adds new staffers

Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, a school choice advocacy group that successfully lobbied to raise the public charter school cap in the 2011 legislative session, recently added two new staffers.

Katie Trout, the former communications director at the conservative Civitas Institute, joined the organization as a communications associate, where she will serve as an editor and writer as well as augment the group's online presence.

Bill O’Donnell, the former government liason for the N.C. School Boards Assocition, is a new education policy and research specialist. He is also a former Wake County public school teacher.

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