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Berry and Hagan pull even in '14 Senate race

Republican Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry runs even with Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in a new poll.

Berry and Hagan are tied at 45 percent in a potential 2014 match-up, according to a survey conducted by Public Policy polling, a Democratic leaning firm based in Raleigh.

In the GOP primary to be held next May, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx(15 percent) is in a virtual tie with Berry (14 percent.)” Following them is Senate leader Phil Berger and Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, each with 10 percent, physician Greg Bannon with 7 percent, House Speaker Thom Tillis with 6 percent, former ambassador Jim Cain with 4 percent, Mark Harris and Lynn Wheeler each with 3 percent.

None of the potential Republican candidates are very well known across the state, according to the poll.

Saturday roundup: Shanahan moonlighting, Ellmers faces uncertain future, public school advocates, more trouble at Central Prison

Department of Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan still has some clients from his law firm, despite a full plate running a state agency.

Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers was elected as an outsider. But she faces a competitive field if she runs for Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan's seat in 2014.

Public school advocates form to stop legislative proposals they contend would undermine public education.

A federal lawsuit says 21 correctional officers at Central Prison beat handcuffed and shackled prisoners, The Associated Press reports.

1368286046 Saturday roundup: Shanahan moonlighting, Ellmers faces uncertain future, public school advocates, more trouble at Central Prison The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

North Carolina's Senate race falls in the national rankings

North Carolina's U.S. Senate race is trending more safely in Kay Hagan's direction compared to the other competitive contests in 2014, according to one pundit.

The Washington Post's Fix blog now ranks the race No. 6 in a list of those most likely to switch parties. (No. 1 is the most likely.)

The N.C. race ranked No. 4 in March. And Hagan, a freshman who rode into office on the 2008 Obama ticket, isn't looking like the most vulnerable incumbent, either. Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas earns that designation, Fix says, ranking the race No. 3. The top two races are open seats.

Republicans say Voller's rape comment out of line

Republicans are saying that Democratic Chairman Randy Voller did not go far enough in apologizing for his rape comment.

”I'm not sure what's worse – Chairman Voller's statement or his non-apology after the fact,” said Congresswoman Renee Ellmers of Dunn. “The chairman does not have to agree with our policies, but to try to compare policy differences to violent sexual assaults is beyond the pale. Certainly he should have enough respect for women – Democratic and Republican – to know better than to use that kind of inflammatory and offensive language.''

Morning Memo: State to probe gambling money; contentious day in N.C. House

STATE ELECTION OFFICIALS TO INVESTIGATE GAMBLING DONATIONS: State elections officials are calling for an investigation of $235,000 in political donations to dozens of North Carolina candidates from an Oklahoma sweepstakes operator, contributions that they say may have violated state campaign finance laws, AP reported. Gov. Pat McCrory, state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger are among those who received the checks, many of them mailed from a Charlotte lobbying firm where McCrory worked until just before he took office.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House will consider three highly contentious measures Tuesday: first, a sweeping immigration bill at 10 a.m. in House Judiciary Subcommittee B and a gun bill at the same time in House Judiciary Subcommittee A, and then, at 2 p.m., the full House convenes to hear a voter ID measure. Immigration advocates are expected to appear in full force at the legislative building today to lobby. Also today: a House panel will also consider a bill to adopt a state marsupial, among other state symbols, and a Senate committee will hear a bill to make hospitals more transparent in their billing.

Gov. Pat McCrory -- and legislative leaders -- will attend the NFIB meeting in Raleigh at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. Later in the day, the governor will sign Kilah's Law (HB75) at a 4:30 p.m. ceremony at the Capitol.

Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- our thoughts are with Jamie and Nation Hahn's family and friends today. More North Carolina political news and analysis below.

Hagan leads all potential GOP foes with Berry her strongest opponent

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan continues to lead all of her potential GOP opponents, with Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry remaining her strongest opponent, according to a new poll.

Hagan would beat Berry by a 46-41 percent margin, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic leaning firm based in Raleigh.

Hagan would defeat Congresswoman Renee Ellmers by a 48-40 margin and Congresswoman Virginia Foxx and stateSenate leader Phil Berger by a 48-39 percent margin, according to the po9ll. She would defeat House Speaker Thom Tillis by a 49-39 percent margin and Cary physician Greg Brannon by a 49-36 percent margin.

The poll shows that Hagan has lost little support since she announced her support for gay marriage. Her job approval was 39 percent and disapproval was 37 percent,

compared to a month ago when it was 42 percent approval and 39 percent disapproval.

In the Republican primary, the field is wide open. Berry leads among GOP voters with 18 percent followed by Foxx with 13 percent, Ellmers with 12 percent, Berger with 11 percent, Tillis with 7 percent, Brannon with 6 percent and 1 percent for Terry Embler.

The survey of 601 voters was conducted April 11-14 and had a margin of error of 4 percent. The subset of 468 Republican voters for the primary question had a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

How Ellmers, Jones, Holding, McIntyre are doing with their fund raising

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers of Dunn, a potential U.S. Senate candidate next year, has not yet begun cranking up her money-raising operation.

She raised $97,797 in political contributions during the first quarter of the year, according to federal campaign reports. She had $133,586 on hand at the end of March. That is fine for a congresswoman seeking re-election, but not the kind of money associated with a Senate race.

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan raised $1.6 million during the first quarter and had $2.7 million on hand at the end of the reporting period.

Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre of Lumberton, who will likely face another tough re-election effort again next year, raised $118,779 in the first quarter and had $181,672 cash on hand.

Tillis back from DC exploring Senate bid

House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius has recently returned from Washington where he was making the rounds seeking support for a potential U.S. Senate bid next year.

One of his potential GOP opponents, Senate leader Phil Berger of Eden has already been up there, making contacts at the C-PAC conference held last month.

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Renee Ellmers of Dunn seems to be inching toward a Senate candidacy, according to GOP watchers.

Scoping out the state in search of a Senate candidate in recent days has been Sal Russo, a leader of the Tea Party Express, a California-based group formed in 2009 that supports the Tea Party movement. Russo is a veteran political operative who has worked for such GOP political figures as Sen. Orrin Hatch, Congressman and vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp and Gov. George Pataki.

The Tea Party Express has endorsed such candidates as Christine O'Donnell, Marco Rubio, and Sharon Angle.

One candidate he likely looked over is Greg Bannon, a Cary Ob-GYN, the only Republican Senate candidate who has announced, and who has been active in Tea Party politics.

Morning Memo: Renewable energy gets a second look; lawmakers in at 7

North Carolina's three-day Sustainable Energy Conference gets underway today in Raleigh. The conference comes as state lawmakers are consider legislation to roll back renewable energy standards that were approved in 2007.

The bill appeared fast-tracked but had a rough go in its first of several committee meetings. Gov. Pat McCrory has said he expects the bill to undergo some changes.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, has ran into some opposition to the bill in his own backyard. The Daily Courier reports that the town manager of Lake Lure has written a letter to Hager explaining that the town's finances would be hurt by the bill because the dam at Lake Lure produces renewable energy that it sells back to Duke Energy under the current law. The town made $425,000 in 2010 though the amount varies. The funds are used for upkeep of the old dam.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: Lawmakers return this evening with both the House and Senate convening at 7 p.m.

WHERE'S GOV. PAT?:Gov. Pat McCrory visits GlaxoSmithKline in Research Triangle Park. The visit is closed to the press and public.

***Good Monday morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. A roundup of North Carolina political news and analysis below.***

Ellmers goes on Fox to push for cancer funds

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers was on Fox News Thursday night trying to build support for legislation that would restore cuts for money for cancer patients on Medicare who are receiving chemotherapy.

Appearing on the Greta Van Susteren program, Ellmers, a Republican from Dunn, said some Medicare patients are being hurt by 2 percent cuts for cancer care services and drugs.

“We must take care of the most vulnerable,” said Ellmers, a former nurse.

The cuts are affecting clinics, forcing patients in some cases to leave their communities and go to hospitals for treatment. She said that is often more expensive and difficult for some people to travel, and sometimes delays treatment.

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