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In new Democratic polling, some state lawmakers looking vulnerable

The upheaval from the legislative session continues to reverberate as lawmakers look at what it did for their prospects in 2014. Voters are wavering, Republicans are openly discussing a course-correction next year and the N.C. Democratic Party is trying to capitalize. And now, it's showing in legislative district polls.

Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm based in Raleigh, recently looked at eight state Senate districts held by Republicans, finding two leaning Democrat and six more in the toss-up category. PPP pollster Tom Jensen writes that "the political landscape has shifted in such a way that Democrats have a lot more opportunities to eat into the Republican majority next year than could have ever been imagined even six months ago."


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.***

Goolsby talks Moral Mondays on NPR

Jacki Lyden interviewed Sen. Thom Goolsby and Willlie Jennings of Duke Divinity School about Moral Monday.

Jennings wrote about being arrested for the first time. Goolsby got a lot of attention for a column where he called the event Moron Monday.

The New Hanover Republican presented a different view for Lyden. "There's a really nice Christian theme to what they say that I very much appreciate, a lot of good prayer," he told her.

McCrory blames Moral Monday on outsiders, Goolsby calls it "Moron Monday''

GOP Pat McCrory placed part of the blame on Moral Monday on outside groups when he spoke to the Republican convention in Charlotte over the weekend.

“Outsiders are coming in and they're going to try to do to us what they did to Scott Walker in Wisconsin,” McCrory said according to AP.

There were mass protests in Madison, when Walker, the GOP governor, moved to strip state workers of their right to collective bargaining. North Carolina state workers have no collective bargaining rights.

“They are going to come in try to change the subject,” McCrory said. “And I'm not going to let them. I'm going to concentrate on the economy, education and government efficiency.''

The governor's comments were muted compared to Sen. Thom Goolsby, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In a recently published column he called the event “Moron Monday.

Morning Memo: Clergy to march on Jones Street; House members will grow beards

WHAT'S NEXT? BEARDED LADIES?Speaker Thom Tillis announced Sunday that he had stopped shaving and didn't intend to start again until the session was over. The "Beard Caucus" apparently met on Sunday (surely just a break from the hard task of finalizing the state budget) and came up with the ground rules: "Neck trims, face trims, etc. are allowed but a beard is required to be compliant. Goatees, mustaches and big sideburns will not be considered compliant." The Speaker did not indicate if the beard caucus was bipartisan or how the women of the House felt about the fun and games. Follow the fun here.

Welcome to another Manic Monday and Dome Morning Memo. It's going to be busy on Jones Street today. Both chambers convene at 7 p.m. with full calendars. Wake County residents will be keeping an eye on the House where lawmakers will be voting on Wake County's school board districts. And look for a final vote on the House tax bill. Full story.

Thom Goolsby: Cooper doesn't deserve SBI

"Attorney General Roy Cooper’s recent dog and pony show was an embarrassment to his office," writes GOP Sen. Thom Goolsby in his blog, Carolina Columns.

"Cooper had gotten wind that Senate budget writers were planning to transfer the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) from Cooper’s control to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The long-serving Democrat Attorney General wants to keep the SBI. The best excuse he could make was that he needs the agents to fight public corruption.

"Can anyone remember any heavy lifting by Cooper during the investigation of former Governor Mike Easley? What about the investigations of Perdue’s henchmen who recently entered criminal pleas? Cooper, not known as a litigator, needs to come up with a better argument for his case."

Goolsby and Newton to head Senate J Committee

Senators Thom Goolsby of New Hanover and E.S. “Buck” Newton of Wilson have been named chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday.

They replace Sen. Peter Brunstetter, who chaired the committee during the past session.

Senate leader Phil Phil Berger also re-appointed Senators Austin Allran of Catawba and Warren Daniel of the Senate Judiciary II Committee.

He also plans to appoint Senators Goolsby, Newton and Stan Bingham to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Justice and Public Safety.

Berger also announced that he was reappointing Senators Jerry Tillman of Randolph and Dan Soucek of Watauga as co-chairmen of the Senate Committee on Education/ Higher Education. They will also serve with Sen. Tom Apodaca as co-chairs of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education/Higher Education.

Tranvaginal wand reappears, as doc lectures Thom Goolsby in new TV ad

The transvaginal wand is making another appearance in a new Deb Butler's state Senate TV ad.

The new 30-second commercial shows the medical device during a clip from her previous ad as an OB/GYN lectures Republican rival Thom Goolsby. "Senator, I've been a doctor for 40 years. Women know what they are doing," Dr. Takey Crist says, pointing his finger at the camera.

Sen. Goolsby doubles down on support for accused troopers

State Sen. Thom Goolsby, a Wilmington Republican and lawyer, said Wednesday his support for two state troopers accused of misconduct is not shaken by the release of text messages showing the law officers profanely expressed ridicule and contempt for a woman wrongfully arrested for drunken driving.

Over the weekend, Goolsby issued a statement giving his unequivocal support to Senior Trooper Edward S. Wyrick and Trooper Andrew M. Smith.

"As an attorney who practices in our local courts, I have known these troopers for the entire time they have enforced the law in southeastern North Carolina," Goolsby wrote in an e-mail to The N&O. "I have never received any complaints about them. My personal experience was that they were professional, honest and forthright. ... It is time that someone spoke up and defended our troopers. I am doing so now."

On Tuesday the patrol released text messages showing that the two troopers exchanged messages shortly after Gina Tessener twice blew a 0.00 on an an alcohol breath test, prompting a comment from her lawyer husband that Wyrick should be ashamed of himself.

"Hahahaha f--- her and f--- him," Smith texted to Wyrick after learning of the exchange.

Moments later, Smith would pull Tessener's husband as he followed Wyrick and his wife to the county jail. The newly released texts may contradict Wyrick's written report of Gina Tessener's arrest, in which he wrote: "I never made contact with Trp. Smith while enroute to the jail until after I verified he stopped her husband."

Goolsby said Wednesday he didn't see anything in the messages that would lead him to change his earlier statement.

"The texts confirm the consistent story given in the report provided by the trooper," Goolsby wrote in an e-mail. "I have seen no evidence that the husband was set up in any way. These troopers are professional and respected in our area. No allegations have ever been made that any foul language was spoken to the driver or her husband. The inconsistent statements have all come from the husband of the driver. Until and unless I see something to the contrary, I continue to stand behind our troopers."

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