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Morning Memo: Democrats hit GOP on education in new ad campaign

SEE IT HERE FIRST: N.C. Democrats launch ad campaign hitting GOP on education: The headline "Republican leadership has failed teachers in North Carolina" is hitting newspapers across the state this week in full-page advertisements paid for by the N.C. Democratic Party. The ads target 17 legislative districts (eight Senate, nine House) and criticize Republicans for not increasing teacher pay, forcing class size increases, eliminating some teacher assistants, ending the back-to-school tax holiday, cutting money for textbooks and supplies, taking away the graduate school bonus for (future) teachers and allowing private school vouchers.

"We’re putting Gov. McCrory and Republican legislators on notice that their assault on public education is not going unnoticed," said Robert Dempsey, the party's executive director.

***See the ad and get a list of the targeted lawmakers below in today's Dome Morning Memo.***


Candidate emerges to replace Foushee in House

A candidate has announced his interest in replacing Democrat Valerie Foushee in the state House: Drew Nelson, a lawyer who represents indigent clients in appellate court.

Earlier this month,first-term legislator Foushee was named to replace veteran lawmaker Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, who retired in August. Foushee’s House seat is now open and her replacement will be chosen by a committee of the Democratic Party.

The District 50 seat represents Durham and Orange counties.

Nelson is a North Carolina native who received his law degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and obtained a master’s degree from Duke. He is married to a doctor, and the family has lived in Orange and Durham counties for 16 years, according to his campaign website.

He’s a partner at Willis Johnson & Nelson in Raleigh. He says his political experience includes working on environmental issues and serving on former Rep. Joe Hackney’s staff.

Nelson, in a news release issued Thursday, said Republican “extreme policy changes” in education prompted him to seek the office.

“As the son of a North Carolina public school teacher and an elementary school principal, and as the parent of a child soon to be enrolled in public school, education is a critical issue driving my candidacy,” Nelson said.

Morning Memo: In 2014 Senate salvo, Kay Hagan hits back at Phil Berger

KAY HAGAN CAMPAIGN HITS BACK: It seems like the 2014 U.S. Senate race is underway. Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan is responding to GOP Senate leader Phil Berger's new TV ad on voter ID. Berger is not an announced candidate but his TV ad sure makes it look like he is running -- hitting Hagan in the opening lines.

The Hagan campaign will release a point-by-point counter to the Berger ad Monday to highlight her opposition to voter ID and try to put focus on the other voting law changes deeper in the bill. “Kay is standing up for access to the ballot box for all voters because she believes this fundamental right shouldn’t be a political football,” said Preston Elliott, Hagan’s campaign manager, in a statement. “Phil Berger can self-promote all he wants, but at the end of the day, his disastrous record in the General Assembly and attempts to open up elections to corporate influence will speak for themselves. North Carolinians need leaders focused on jobs and rebooting the economy for middle class families, not politicians willing to mislead voters just to throw political potshots.”

VALERIE FOUSHEE TO REPLACE KINNAIRD: A Democratic Party committee chose first-term state Rep. Valerie Foushee of Chapel Hill on Sunday to fill former state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird’s vacant District 23 seat. Foushee thanked Democratic Party members and voters. The first thing the party needs to do is take back the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, she said to thunderous applause. “We have a lot of work to do,” said Foushee. “It’s already been expressed by every candidate. All of you read the papers, all of you are engaged, you know what we’re facing. I promise you I will continue to fight as I have fought. I will fight every day. You will hear from me. I will be present.” Read more here.

***Read more from the U.S. Senate campaign news and a look at political stories ahead this week below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

PPP: Chilton, Foushee top crowded field to replace Kinnaird

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton and state Rep. Valerie Foushee are the top choices in a crowded field of candidates who want to replace nine-term Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, according to an early assessment of the race.

That’s not surprising, given Chilton and Foushee have the greatest name recognition in the district, which includes Chatham and Orange counties.

Chilton was elected to the Chapel Hill Town Council in 1991, before moving to Carrboro and running for office there. Foushee, who was elected to the House last year, has been on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education and the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

The Public Policy Polling survey found 36 percent of voters in Senate District 23 said Chilton would be one of their top two choices, and 28 percent put Foushee in their top two.

Morning Memo: Dems eager to replace Kinnaird; GOP's barbs in Senate fight

FOUR CANDIDATES SEEKING KINNAIRD SENATE SEAT: State Rep. Valerie Foushee and three others announced Wednesday their intent to seek state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird’s District 23 seat. The other candidates for Kinnaird’s seat that emerged Wednesday were retiring Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton; author and educator Amy Tiemann, and former Alamance County Rep. Alice Bordsen. Read more on the candidates here.

TODAY IN POLITICS: The country's former top military officer and the head of an Internet giant are the main attractions at a gathering of North Carolina business executives that will draw Gov. Pat McCrory. The CEO Forum is scheduled for Thursday at North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh. Former U.S. Secretary of State and retired Gen. Colin Powell is speaking along with Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers. McCrory will attend the event at 8 a.m.

***More North Carolina political news from the U.S. Senate race below in the Dome Morning Memo. Send news and tips to***

State Rep. Valerie Foushee makes bid to replace retiring Sen. Ellie Kinnaird

A first-term state lawmaker already is looking for a promotion. State Rep. Valerie Foushee, a Chapel Hill Democrat, announced Wednesday she would seek appointed to replace retiring state Sen. Ellie Kinnard in District 23.

Foushee won election to the legislature in November to a district that covers Orange and Durham counties. She maintained a low profile in her first session, often deferring interview requests and speaking little on the House floor -- a contrast to Kinnaird who is a vocal critic of the Republican-led Senate. Her prior experience includes the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board and the Orange County Commission, chairing both during her tenure.

Orange County lawmaker opts for an early oath

The newly elected state lawmakers get officially sworn into office Jan. 9 when the legislature convenes for a one-day organizational session.

But not all are waiting that long. Rep.-elect Valerie Foushee, a Democrat, will hold her own swearing in ceremony the day before at the Orange County Courthouse in HIllsborough. (Gov.-elect Pat McCrory also isn't waiting for the traditional inauguration, opting for a private ceremony at the Capitol a week earlier.)

Foushee's ceremony is perfectly acceptable, said Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for House Speaker Thom Tillis, as long as certain requirements are met. For example, only certain officials, such as judges, can administer the oath of office, he said.

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