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State Rep. Paul Stam backing Wake County school bond referendum

One of the top Republican lawmakers in the state is supporting this fall’s $810 million Wake County school bond referendum.

State House Speaker Pro Tem Paul Stam, an Apex Republican, said Thursday he supports the bond. His district includes some of the fastest-growing areas in Wake that would get new school seats under the bond issue.

Stam said he wanted to make it clear that not all Republicans in Wake are against the bond referendum.

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 capitol@newsobserver.com.***

Morning Memo: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to attend Wake fundraiser

JAN BREWER TO ATTEND WAKE GOP FUNDRAISER: The Wake County Republican Party announced Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer will attend a Sept. 14 fundraiser in Raleigh for the local party's fall candidates. The announcement email includes the now infamous photo of Brewer, a Republican, wagging her finger upon meeting President Barack Obama at an airport tarmac. The top ticket for the fundraiser is a $5,000 VIP package and a single ticket is $75. The party expects the event to sell out.

THE MUMMIES RETURN: From columnist Rob Christensen-- "We have seen this before in North Carolina – the reign of the green-eyeshaded men who thought low taxes trumped all, and if there were any coins left in the till at the end of the day they would throw it into the education pot.

"It was called the 1800s. And Walter Hines Page had a name for them. He called North Carolina’s leaders “the mummies” as in very old, well-wrapped, very dead Egyptians because of their complacent conservatism." Read his full column here.

***Get more North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

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: Hagan supports immigration bill, Burr against

HAGAN TO SUPPORT IMMIGRATION BILL: U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan on Wednesday announced that she’ll vote for an immigration overhaul that provides a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, saying it will help North Carolina’s economy and strengthen the nation’s border security. “I’m ready to support a common-sense bill that’s going to fix our broken immigration system so that everybody plays by the same rules today,” the first-term Democrat said. “After listening to a wide variety of stakeholders throughout North Carolina, it’s clear to me supporting bill is the right decision for North Carolina.”

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: A couple hot-button measures are resurfacing at the state legislature Thursday. The Commonsense Consumption Act, an ALEC-sponsored bill to give food manufacturers immunity against obesity-related lawsuits, appears in the Senate judiciary committee at 10 a.m. The N.C. version of the bill also includes a "Big Gulp" provision to prevent cities from passing a ban on large-sized sodas. A Sharia law measure is off the agenda. On the floor, the House will take a final vote on a bill to privatize much of the state commerce department and require certain abortion-related education in middle school health classes. The Senate will consider a bill that would restrict the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking, thwarting other state efforts to set tough rules on the issue.

Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a dinner hosted by a nonprofit organized to boost his agenda in Greensboro this evening, a day after he defended it against critics who say it represents pay-for-access for special interests. S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley is expected to attend the dinner, which costs $1,000 for two tickets. Dr. Ben Carson, the latest conservative TV darling, will appear at a 6:30 p.m. event in Raleigh to benefit the Upper Room church’s school.

***More on Kay Hagan's immigration vote and her potential GOP rival Thom Tillis' campaign, along with SCOTUS reaction and Mel Watt's confirmation fight, all below in today's Dome Morning Memo.***

Wake GOP to hold convention on March 26th

The Wake County Republican Party will hold its annual county convention on Tuesday, March 26th at the Kerr Scott Building at the State Fairgrounds. Event registration and payment is required. Visit www.WakeGOP.org to register. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. With business beginning at 6 p.m.

Morning Memo: Gambling probe has NC ties, Tillis joins ALEC board

MAN AT CENTER OF GAMBLING INVESTIGATION HAS N.C. TIES: An Oklahoma technology company owner who is caught up in a massive investigation into illegal gambling has been a key player in North Carolina’s elusive video sweepstakes games, and has been a generous political contributor. Chase Egan Burns, 37, faces charges in Florida that include racketeering and conspiracy, according to The Associated Press. Burns was arrested Tuesday. Court documents say Burns claimed money put into his gambling machines would be donated to Allied Veterans, but the group received less than 1 percent of the proceeds, The AP reported.

Burns is the owner of International Internet Technologies, which reportedly has more than 100 licensees in North Carolina that employ about 1,100 people. Burns has made $154,000 in campaign contributions in recent years to state political candidates of both parties -- including Gov. Pat McCrory -- and to the state Republican Party.

THOM TILLIS JOINS ALEC BOARD: House Speaker Thom Tillis recently joined the American Legislative Exchange Council's board of directors. "I've been a member for several years and it's a great organziation. I think it's a great colaboration between legislators and businesses. They asked me if I would serve I told them I would happy to," he said in an interview. ALEC is a free-market organization that crafts "model legislation" (such as the controversial "Stand Your Ground" law) by putting corporate representatives and state legislators together. Critics - object to the secrecy of the process and say big business is buying access. Tillis dismissed any concerns about the group, comparing it to the National Conference on State Legislatures. "If you look at most the legialtion that moves through ALEC, a lot of it has it's roots in some other legislative body," he said.

***Good morning. Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo -- a one-stop-shop for North Carolina political news to start the day. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. Much more below. ***

Wake Republicans and Dems begin organizing

One political cycle ends and the next one begins.

The Wake County Republican Party has set their precinct meetings for Tuesday Feb., 19th at the Exposition Center at the State Fairgrounds. Doors open at 5 p.m. With precinct business beginning at 6 p.m. No speaker has yet been announced.

Meanwhile, the Wake County Democratic Party has scheduled their annual Valentine's Day Fundraiser for Friday Feb. 15 at The Royal Banquet and Conference Center at 3801 Hillsborough St.

Pope steps down as the head of Wake GOP

Claude E. Pope Jr. has stepped down as chairman of the Wake County Republican Party, saying he plans to focus on new business opportunities.

“I have postponed pursuing career plans until after the Nov. 2 election so I could focus all my energies on leading a vigorous organization of volunteers and candidates,” Pope said Monday night at a meeting of the party's executive committee, according to a media release. “The recent successful election results culminate my 20 months as party chairman, and I am thrilled to have been associated with such a group of committed Republicans.”

Pope will be replaced by Susan Bryant, a Wake Forest Republican who has previously served as the committee's first vice chair.

A distant cousin of GOP benefactor Art Pope, Claude Pope served as chairman for 20 months during which the party enjoyed success at the ballot box, capturing a majority on the Wake School Board in 2009 and a majority in both houses of the state legislature earlier this month.

"I’d say that overall, we’ve had a great run,” Pope said, according to the statement. "This was a tough decision for my wife, Melissa and me to make, but we believe this is a time when we leave the organization in strong hands for the next elections.”

It will never replace Tinker, Evers and Chance

The Wake County Republican Party will begin airing a radio commercial Monday touting their candidates as being for low taxes.

The ad urges voters to back Joe Bryan, Tony Gurley, Phil Matthews, and Paul Coble, repeatedly mentioning their name.

“If you want conservatives who will keep spending down and won't raise taxes that will be Tony Gurley, Paul Coble, Joe Bryan and Phil Matthews. That is Gurley, Coble Bryan and Matthews.....Otherwise liberals will be in charges just like they are in Congress and the state legislature.”

The ad was played at the GOP rally Saturday night at Five County Stadium.

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