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Morning Memo: Tillis dodges shutdown questions; McHenry pressed on Obamacare

TILLIS DODGES GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN QUESTION: Republican Thom Tillis is emphasizing his opposition to the federal health care law in his campaign for the U.S. Senate but at the same time he's avoiding answering some questions on the issue. A Democratic Party operative recently asked the Republican House speaker about whether he agrees with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others who suggested shutting down government to defund the federal health care law.

While walking to a recent D.C. fundraiser, Tillis didn't offer a direct answer -- even though if elected he may face similar circumstance. "It's not my decision to make but anything we could do to slow down or eliminate Obamacare would be good for the nation," he said in a video posted online. (Watch above.)

Does Tillis agree with North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr that a shutdown is the "dumbest idea" ever? Again no answer. "I'm going to leave that to the duly elected senators but i think we can do to stop Sen. Hagan and President Obama from creating all the uncertainty and cost that comes with Obamacare it would be a good thing," he said. Expect both questions to return soon.

***See the Tillis video below in the Dome Morning Memo, along with another video from Republicans punking people at the "Moral Monday" rally.

Morning Memo: Perdue closes her campaign for good, leave Democratic party hanging

PERDUE CLOSES CAMPAIGN ACCOUNT: From AP: Former N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue has closed her campaign accounts, distributing the more than $1.2 million political war chest raised for her derailed 2012 re-election bid. Nearly $800,000 went to the Democrat and her husband to repay personal loans made to her political campaigns between 2000 and 2008, according to campaign finance disclosure reports filed last week with the N.C. Board of Elections.

Another $200,000 went to a pair of writers assisting Perdue with her autobiography and about $120,000 went to a charity. Most of the remainder was paid to lawyers and campaign staff.

***Find out who Perdue left off her campaign spending list below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Renewable energy group airs TV ads thanking lawmakers

UPDATED: A renewable energy organization is airing TV ads thanking 23 state lawmakers for blocking an effort this session to repeal renewable energy mandates.

The roughly campaign is paid for by the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, a renewable trade group promoting solar, wind and other "green" energy initiatives. No cost was available. It is running 140 TV spots that will air for two weeks in coordination with a three-week online ad campaign, according to Lowell Sachs, a spokesman.

Hagan uses Voting Rights Act to criticize GOP legislature

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is using today's anniversary of the Voting Rights Act to poke at the state legislature -- a jab likely intended for potential Republican rival Thom Tillis.

Hagan's office issued a statement Tuesday touting the law on its 48th anniversary but said "injustice remains and threats to the right to vote still exist."

She pointed to North Carolina in particular. “We must look no further than our own state to witness efforts to limit voter access," she said in the statement.

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.***

Zeb Alley, former state senator and longtime lobbyist, dies

Zeb Alley, a former state senator and later the state's most powerful lobbyist, died Thursday. He was 84.

House Speaker Thom Tillis announced the news, saying Alley died shortly after 9 a.m. He did not disclose a cause of death. The Senate adjourned Thursday in his memory.

Alley spent more than four decades working the halls at the statehouse in Raleigh, beginning with his election to the state Senate in 1970. He worked until his death as a lobbyist for Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, though his practice was much less robust in recent years.

A prominent Democrat, Alley served one term before becoming commissioner of the N.C. Courts Commission. He later served as a member of the N.C. Board of Alochol Control for three years until becoming then-Gov. Jim Hunt's lobbyist in 1980.

Republicans organize counter rally to 'Moral Mondays'

As national attention focuses on North Carolina's weekly demonstrations at the statehouse, Wake County Republicans are organizing a counter effort.

Dubbed "Truthful Tuesday," Wake County GOP Chairwoman Donna Williams is asking conservatives to rally on the Halifax Mall outside the Legislative Building at 4 p.m. July 16. An email to supporter suggests that it would come near the end of the legislative session amid consideration of the controversial voter ID measure.

Williams writes in the invite: "Joyce Krawiec, NC GOP Vice-Chair has been working closely with NCGOP Chairman Claude Pope and Speaker of the House Thom Tillis to coordinate this event with the closing of this historic legislation session and the passing of Voter I.D. The event will be followed by a reception in the Rotunda."

Morning Memo: Abortion bill back on agenda; McCrory's misfire at Obama

ABORTION BILL IS 'CHRISTMAS IN JULY': The abortion bill resurfaces for discussion in the House on Tuesday after a vocal protest against it a day earlier. (More on Monday's demonstrations below.) So we know what critics say about the abortion bill, but what about supporters? Christian Action League's Rev. Mark Creech is asking proponents to "pray for Christmas in July." On the group's website, he writes: "In all my days, I have never seen a bill so full of good content. I have shared with my friends that the legislation is a veritable Christmas tree of beautiful lights and ornaments representing life, justice and other righteous principles. The only thing missing is the crowning star of final passage and the governor’s signature. For those of us who believe in faith, family, and freedom, this bill is Christmas in July."

McCRORY'S MISFIRE AT OBAMA: Gov. Pat McCrory sought to deflect blame for North Carolina's decision to curtail jobless benefits by pointing the finger Monday at President Barack Obama's administration. The problem is he pointed in the wrong direction. (Read more below.)

***Click below for details about the controversial abortion bill and more North Carolina political news and analysis in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Judges uphold GOP redistricting maps

A three-judge panel issued a judgment Monday saying that while race played a role in the mapping of North Carolina’s legislative and congressional voting districts in 2011, Republican leaders were within bounds in creating the districts.

The 171-page judgment comes nearly a month and a half after the three Superior Court judges from across the state heard testimony about the districts – Senate Districts 31 and 32 in Yadkin and Forsyth counties; House Districts 51 and 54 in Lee and Chatham counties; the 4th Congressional District in the eastern Piedmont; and 12th District stretching from Charlotte to Winston-Salem and Greensboro.

Morning Memo: NC's new brand; protests expected to swell

NORTH CAROLINA'S NEW BRAND: "North Carolina’s national brand may be changing – but not the way Gov. Pat McCrory intended when he talked during his campaign about the Tar Heel state undergoing an image makeover," writes columnist Rob Christensen. "… The new brand that McCrory seems to want is that North Carolina is more business-friendly. But since he took office in January, the state has been undergoing a brand change of a very different kind. The sharp rightward turn of the legislature and the Moral Monday protests have turned North Carolina into one of the nation’s top political spectacles. … The national coverage is worth millions of dollars of publicity. Unfortunately for North Carolina, it may also be the wrong kind of publicity." Read more here.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: They’re back! The House, after taking off a week to let its conflicts with the Senate – taxes, budgets, gun control – simmer, will be back in town Monday night. The calendar is mostly low-profile, local bills except for a final vote on the bill creating a separate regulatory board for charter schools. The state charter school board would be responsible for handing out new charters and shutting down inadequate schools. The bill would dilute the state Board of Education’s powers. The Senate passed the bill in May. Also back: Moral Monday demonstrations, which are expected to draw huge crowds after the Senate's approval of a major abortion bill.

***Get a complete roundup of political news from the extended holiday weekend below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

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