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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.***

Washington Post looks at NC Democratic lineup

The Washington Post has been spending a lot of time in Raleigh lately.

Earlier in the week, its GovBeat state and local government blog looked at the GOP lineup against Sen. Kay Hagan. The piece included an extended interview with “an impeccably coiffed man in a pinstriped suit and French cuffs named Thom Tillis.”

On Friday, the blog on Friday took a look at Democratic contenders for governor, following a rough week for the Republican incumbent.

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.***

Washington Post cartoonist's take on McCrory and voter ID

Ouch! Here's a Washington Post cartoonist's take on our governor and election reform.

Morning Memo: McCrory's approval slips again, as he defends voter ID and prepares veto pen

ALERT: PAT McCRORY'S APPROVAL RATING FALLS TO 39 PERCENT A new Public Policy Polling survey set for release later Thursday shows the Republican governor's approval rating dipping to the 30s for the first time in his term. It's a slight slip from a month earlier but indicates his approval rating is not improving as he signs controversial legislation on abortion, voter ID and guns. The Raleigh-based Democratic firm found McCrory's approval at 39 percent and disapproval at 51 percent. Another 10 percent are unsure. The numbers represent a huge point slide from when he took office in January with a 45 percent approval and 19 percent disapproval rating.

Another number in the poll suggests half of voters believe he broke his campaign pledge on abortion. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. Check Dome later today for more numbers.

NEW YORK TIMES A1 HEADLINE: North Carolinians fear the end of a middle way: The story rehashes the rightward shift from the legislative session and focuses on Pat McCrory's tough spot. Campbell Robertson writes: "In an interview, Mr. McCrory said that critics had obscured what he called a pragmatic and fiscally responsible agenda. “It’s a combination of people on the two extremes wanting to bring up and exaggerate controversial issues,” he said, adding that he had pushed back against earlier versions of the abortion and tax bills, and was planning to veto other bills this week." Read the full story here.

***The governor keeps threatening a veto. Find out the likely target below in the Dome Morning Memo. And get his thoughts on the voter ID bill.***

1376508601 Morning Memo: McCrory's approval slips again, as he defends voter ID and prepares veto pen The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

NC Senate race still ranks No. 6

House Speaker Thom Tillis' entry into the U.S. Senate race didn't move the needle in terms of competitiveness, according to one ranking.

The Washington Post's Fix politics blog ranks the race No. 6 on it's list of seats most likely to switch parties. It's the same place the North Carolina race placed a month earlier and not even the most competitive race with an incumbent.

The Fix writeup: "State House Speaker Thom Tillis remains the lone major GOP candidate in this race so far, though there are several other Republicans running and Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) is still weighing her options. While a state lawmaker may not seem like a top recruit, keep in mind that Sen. Kay Hagan (D) was elected out of the state Senate in 2008, and North Carolina is one of the purest battlegrounds on the map." See the full ranking here.

Washington Post reports on North Carolina's march to the right

The legislature's push to the political right, continues to gain national attention, with another article appearing over the holiday weekend in The Washington Post.

The headline reads, “North Carolina, unimpeded GOP drives state hard to the right,” and highlights the influence of the Koch brothers and Art Pope, all conservative political donors, the “Moral Monday'' civil disobedience and the broad range of conservative bills.

“I don't know that there is a state that has as many regressive policies on tap,” said Penda Hair, co-director of Advancement Project in Washington is quoted in the story.

North Carolina's Senate race falls in the national rankings

North Carolina's U.S. Senate race is trending more safely in Kay Hagan's direction compared to the other competitive contests in 2014, according to one pundit.

The Washington Post's Fix blog now ranks the race No. 6 in a list of those most likely to switch parties. (No. 1 is the most likely.)

The N.C. race ranked No. 4 in March. And Hagan, a freshman who rode into office on the 2008 Obama ticket, isn't looking like the most vulnerable incumbent, either. Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas earns that designation, Fix says, ranking the race No. 3. The top two races are open seats.

Washington Post ranks Hagan's Democratic seat a touch safer

North Carolina's U.S. Senate seat slipped a notch in a ranking of the most vulnerable seats in 2014.

The Washington Post's Fix politics blog put Democrat Kay Hagan at No. 5 most vulnerable, a spot safer than last month. Louisiana Sen. Mary Laundrieu moved ahead in the rankings after the Republican field became a touch more clear. (The seat most likely to flip parties is the open seat in West Virginia.)

Here's the handicapping for Hagan's seat: "Sen. Kay Hagan (D) recently came out in favor of gay marriage – a somewhat dicey proposition in a Southern state that just went for Mitt Romney in the presidential race. The Tar Heel State, much like Montana, so far features a lesser-known crop of GOP lawmakers, including state Senate President Phil Berger, state House Speaker Thom Tillis, second-term Rep. Renee Ellmers and state Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry."

Morning Memo: McCrory to sign Medicaid bill, three others

McCRORY TO SIGN MEDICAID BILL, THREE OTHERS: Much like the bill to cut unemployment benefits, Gov. Pat McCrory will hold a private signing at the Capitol for a bill to block the expansion of Medicaid health care coverage to roughly 500,000, the majority of which are uninsured. The measure also blocks a state-based health insurance exchange and generated a heated debate in the N.C. General Assembly, where it passed largely along party lines. McCrory said the state is not ready for either part of the federal health care law at this point. The Republican governor will also sign the possum drop bill (HB66), a funding fix for group homes (SB4) and a measure to impose great penalties for protests that disturb military funerals (HB19) at 4:30 p.m.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: A House Judiciary subcommittee looks at a bill (HB156) to limit the N.C. Education Lottery's ability to advertise and offer new types of games, as well as take the word "education" from its official name. The issue is likely to split Republicans and Democrats, much as the original lottery vote did. Another House subcommittee will consider a measure to open campus police records held by private colleges to public inspection. The Senate Education Committee will take up two bills related to digital learning. Both chambers convene at 2 p.m. McCrory and state officials are participating in a hurricane drill Wednesday morning.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- a must-read to start any day in the North Carolina political world.***

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