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Some North Carolina lawmakers defer pay, Renee Ellmers refuses

UPDATE: Renee Ellmers reversed course and will decline her salary during shutdown. Read the latest here.

As some North Carolina congressional lawmakers defer pay during the shutdown, GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers is refusing to do so -- and her remarks are drawing the attention of an advocacy group.

"The thing of it is, I need my paycheck. That is the bottom line," Ellmers told WTVD, the Raleigh ABC station, Wednesday.

More than 70 congressional lawmakers are voluntarily not taking a salary during the partial government shutdown. Democrat David Price of Chapel Hill is donating his check to charity and Republican Robert Pittenger is returning it to the U.S. Treasury. Republicans George Holding, Virginia Foxx and Mark Meadows are not accepting their pay.

Washington Post: "Republicans need to win North Carolina. But so far, they've stumbled''

With Rep. Virginia Foxx passing on the U.S Senate race, The Washington Post's political column, "The Fix'' speculated on why more GOP candidates are challenging Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan next year.

"So why aren't Republicans lining up to run against Sen. Hagan who is among the 2014 cycle's most vulnerable incumbents?'' writes Sean Sullivan of The Fix.

"Three reasons stand out: the general belief in GOP circles that state House Speaker Thom Tillis is a potentially formidable candidate, even as he's struggled early; the lack of a strong GOP bench; and the state's political tilt and climate, which is not as conservative as it may seem.''

The full blog item can be found at

Morning Memo: GOP faces messy veto politics, with Tillis in spotlight

UPDATED: THE POLITICS OF THE VETO: In pushing to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s of an immigration bill in coming days, Republicans find themselves in the middle of a political mess. The bill won near unanimous approval in the state Senate (43-1) but a solid block of conservative House Republicans voted against it (85-28). Now that McCrory has framed the bill as an anti-immigration conservative test, will that change? A leading Republican -- who voted no -- says the vote isn’t likely to change. And another no vote, GOP Rep. Frank Iller, issued a statement Tuesday saying the bill "opens up too many loopholes in the eVerify system."

EYES ON TILLIS: But what will Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis do? Political analyst John Davis said the race is too "fragile" for Tillis to upset the conservatives in his party. "Tillis cannot make any mistakes especially with the right," David said. "By rushing back into the arena and trying to override McCrory’s veto on the immigration bill, he does risk alienating some members of the Republican Party who are very, very sensitive about this issue."

***More on the 2014 U.S. Senate race -- and the potential Republican field -- below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Virginia Foxx leads GOP Senate field in new poll

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx remains the top choice of North Carolina Republicans to challenge Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan next year.

Foxx is preferred by 18 percent of GOP voters, according to a new survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic leaning firm based in Raleigh.

There is nine percent support for Senate leader Phil Berger and former U.S. ambassador Jim Cain, 8 percent for former House Speaker Thom Tillis, 7 percent for Cary physician Greg Brannon, 4 percent for Heather Grant and Mark Harris, and 2 percent for former Charlotte City councilwoman Lynn Wheeler.

A head to head between Tillis and Berger would start out very tight with Tillis at 23 percent and Berger at 22 percent.

The Republican primary voters are very conservative with 57 percent supporting the shut down of government unless Obamacare is defunded with only 25 percent opposed to it.

The survey of 600 likely voters was conducted Aug 8-11 and it had a margin of error among GOP voters of 5.3 percent.

Is Virginia Foxx testing the Senate waters?

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx will speak at a fund raiser for the Republican Women's Club of Chapel Hill on Sunday, in a move likely to spur speculation that she is testing the waters for a Senate race next year.

Foxx, a veteran lawmaker from Banner Elk who had been mentioned as a potential U.S. Senate candidate next year, will talk at a cookie and coffee affair at the Chapel Hill Country Club. The event is a $20 person fund raiser will begin at 3 p.m.

Polls have put Foxx at the top of the list of potential GOP challengers to Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. Other Republican women, Rep. Renee Ellmers and state Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, have ruled out the race, but Foxx has apparently not made any public comments in weeks.

Todd Poole named N.C. GOP executive director

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's former chief of staff is taking the helm at the N.C. Republican Party.

Todd Poole will serve as executive director, managing the day-to-day party activities and staff for GOP Chairman Claude Pope.

Poole is a Hickory native who recently opened his own political consulting firm, Red Dome Group. Most recently her served on Foxx's staff and previously worked as an aide to then-Congressman Richard Burr. He also worked in North Carolina on the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004.

Despite tough numbers, Hagan still tops possible GOP challengers

Democrat Kay Hagan's popularity isn't improving but Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling suggests the N.C. General Assembly may drag Republicans down even further.

The Democratic polling firm's latest numbers show Hagan's approval essentially even at 43 percent to 45 percent disapproval. But compared to potential Republican challengers, she is doing much better.

Hagan vulnerable, but GOP still searching for a contender, poll suggests

No consensus has formed among Republicans in next year's Senate race, but Congresswoman Virginia Foxx has the most support, according to a new poll.

Foxx leads among Republican voters with 23 percent, followed by state Senate leader Phil Berger with 11 percent, House speaker Thom Tillis and Congresswoman Renee Ellmer with 9 percent, former U.S. Ambassador with 8 percent, Cary physician Greg Bannon with 7 percent, Charlotte minister Mark Harris at 4 percent and former Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Lynn Wheeler at 3 percent.

That is according to a new survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic leaning firm based in Raleigh.

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan leads all potential Republican candidates by margins ranging from 4 to 9 percent.

Morning Memo: Arrests near 500, Democrats debut anti-Tillis website

TOTAL ARRESTS NEAR 500: Eighty-four demonstrators were arrested by the N.C. General Assembly police on Monday, bringing the total since April 29 to more than 480. Holly Jordan, 29, a teacher at Hillside High School in Durham, said she decided to get arrested on Monday because she was thoroughly upset with the education policies and budgets proposed. She knew that some of the Republicans had described their naysayers as “aging hippies” and “outsiders” who considered it “en vogue” to get arrested.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The Senate will take a final vote on its tax plan, and send it to the House. The two chambers remain far apart on how to cut taxes. The House will consider Gov. Pat McCrory's transportation funding bill. In committees, House lawmakers will consider a bill to raise the speed limit to 75 mph on certain roads and a bill requiring cursive -- which is likely to be remade entirely at the last minute, given a similar bill passed earlier this session. Senate lawmakers will meet in committees to consider a bill requiring background checks on those who receive some public assistance and another measure to roll back energy efficiency regulations on building to 2009 levels.

Gov. Pat McCrory will visit another rotary club, this time in Winston-Salem, before meeting with unidentified business leaders in a private meeting at Womble Carlyle, a law firm that also has a lobbying practice.

***Below in the Dome Morning Memo -- U.S. Senate race news, remember Jim Holshouser and a legislative roundup.***

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.

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