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Morning Memo: Senate GOP questioned on legality of power grab

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: No votes in the House on Thursday but the Senate is expected to give final approval to a bill to purge the state's boards of any Democratic appointees. Gov. Pat McCrory hosts legislators for a private breakfast and attends two closed-door events in Wake County. Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller is hosting a morning press conference to lay out his vision for the minority party amid GOP reign.

TEA PARTY GROUP MAY SCREEN GOP U.S. SENATE CANDIDATES: Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said his group may begin to support candidates in Republican primaries, the Daily Caller reports. The move could have implications on North Carolina's U.S. Senate race in 2014 -- which is expected to draw a robust field to challenge Democrat Kay Hagan. Americans for Prosperity is a tea party group that once held close ties to Gov. Pat McCrory's budget director, Art Pope, who led the national board and donated significantly to the organization.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- more news and analysis of N.C. politics below.***

Morning Memo: GOP exerts control, Democratic chairman spits flames

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: A House committee will consider a constitutional amendment to stregthen private property rights and restrict eminent domain. A Senate committee will take up the House unemployment overhaul On the floor, the Senate is expected to consider a controversial GOP power grab to sweep clean Democratic appointments to boards and commissions. And the House will vote on its permanent rules for the legislative session.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE STATEHOUSE: The House will honor the 50th anniversary of the legislative building with a resolution Wednesday. Gov. Pat McCrory will attend.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo, the best source for news and analysis about North Carolina politics. Much more below.***

Morning Memo: McCrory, Foxx square off as legislature takes fast track

UPDATED: IS IT MAYOR PAT OR GOVERNOR PAT? Gov. Pat McCrory told two city of Charlotte staff members this week that state money for the light-rail extension to UNC Charlotte could be at risk if the city builds a controversial streetcar, according to a memo sent Thursday. Without the N.C. Department of Transportation’s $250 million grant, the $1.1 billion Lynx Blue Line extension can’t be built. As Charlotte mayor, McCrory, a Republican, championed light rail, which was one of his signature accomplishments. But he vehemently disagrees with using city property tax dollars to build a streetcar, and used the meeting in Raleigh to relay a message to City Council, according to the memo.

FOXX 'OUTRAGED' OVER WHAT HE CALLS A THREAT: “It’s particularly alarming that he would choose to deliver messages to city staff, particularly messages that contain threats," said Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, a Democrat and potential challenger to McCrory in 2016. “He is governor of the state, and there are a host of issues – tax reform, health care. Why the governor would choose to place focus on a transit project, particularly one contained in a transit plan that he voted to implement makes no sense,” Foxx said.

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Morning Roundup DNC edition: Anthony Foxx readies for the spotlight

From the 15th floor mayor’s office it is about five miles from the working class Lincoln Heights neighborhood in West Charlotte where Anthony Foxx grew up.

But his journey seems longer and more improbable. Tonight it will take him to the podium of the Time Warner Cable Arena Tuesday to welcome the Democrats to Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention – the first national party convention hosted by the state. Read Rob Christensen's full column here and a profile here.

More political headlines from the N&O and Charlotte Observer:

--DNC wrap: The fight for women voters. Party's platform will highlight controversial issues in North Carolina. Occupy protests Monday night cause disruptions. More planned today. Jon Stewart's backyard cook out. Rain drenches DNC street festival. Police were everywhere. Columnist: Welcome to Smurf City. Youth Council builds enthusiasm for Obama. The day for delegates. The alternate speakers platform may not get many visits.

Morning Roundup DNC edition: North Carolina's fading middle class

After more than three years with an unemployment rate higher than the national rate, North Carolina’s middle class is starting to show the wear and tear. Median household income in the state fell over the decade by nearly 10 percent. And the size of the middle class shrank.

These are the people that Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are trying to reach. But a Pew survey and interviews in the Triangle suggest neither presidential candidate has convinced a majority of middle-class voters they offer a clear path to recovery. Read the full story here

More political headlines: 

--The first protest target at the Democratic National Convention won’t be President Barack Obama, health care reform, or the party’s stances on gay marriage or abortion. It will be Bank of America.

--Rob ChristensenAs Democrats pour into Charlotte this weekend for the Democratic National Convention, they are certainly anticipating a big show. But it won’t be the longest Democratic convention held in the Queen City, or the most contentious, and perhaps not even the most entertaining. That title belongs to the state Democratic convention held in June of 1908.

Charlotte ranks No. 5 in presidential advertising

Charlotte is ranked No. 5 in the media markets nationwide seeing the most presidential campaign advertising this week. (See full list below.)

The NBC rankings show that Romney and Republican groups are dominating the airwaves with the candidate's campaign, a GOP super PAC, the Republican National Committee and Americans for Prosperity all hitting President Barack Obama in the city where he will accept the nomination.

It also shows the buy is very small and insignificant. North Carolina markets have shuffled in and out of the top 10 in presidential advertising for months but this seemingly concerted GOP concentration on Charlotte is revealing.

Obama campaign officially opens Charlotte office

Qcitymetro, an online publication in Charlotte, has the scoop on the official opening of an Obama campaign office in the Queen City: The Obama re-election campaign opened its Charlotte headquarters Thursday with a call for volunteers and a promise to once again put North Carolina in the president’s win column.

Hundreds jammed the one-story building on Elizabeth Avenue between Presbyterian Hospital and Central Piedmont Community College. Mayor Anthony Foxx reminded the cheering crowd that the same building had housed each of his two successful campaigns for mayor: “Let’s keep the steak unbroken,” he said. Read the article here.

Charlotte proposes ordinances to limit protesters at Democratic convention

The city of Charlotte has unveiled new ordinances in preparation for the Democratic National Convention that will prohibit camping on city property and will forbid protesters to carry items such as box cutters, pepper spray, body armor and gas masks. If approved, the ordinances would essentially end the Occupy Charlotte movement at old City Hall, where left-wing protesters have camped for several months.

The city probably will have a designated protest area and will allow groups to protest along a specific route. Thecity said it probably will accept applications for protest permits this spring, and could decide who is awarded permits by lottery. Read more here.

A headline that may fuel GOP efforts to rewrite election laws

Democrats touted victories in local Charlotte elections as a precursor to 2012.

And this headline from WSOC-TV in Charlotte helps explain how it happened: "Democrats win big with 23K straight-ticket votes."

It's a storyline that Republican lawmakers want to make sure never happens again. In the legislature's efforts to rewrite elections -- largely at Democrats expense -- an effort to require voters to present an ID is getting the most attention. But legislation that would end straight-party voting also could prove effective in limiting Democratic support.

If voters can't pull just one figurative lever, they may not vote for all the party's candidates -- and that may help Republicans in Charlotte, at least. Only 11,000 Republicans used straight-party voting in an election that delivered a 9-2 Democratic majority to the city council.

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