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Morning Memo: Questions mount on MetLife incentives deal

FIVE DAYS LATER, McCRORY STILL SILENT ON ROLE IN METLIFE DEAL: Five days after the MetLife jobs announcement, Gov. Pat McCrory and the governor's office remains quiet on what role he played in luring the company even as questions mount. Consider this lead sentence from AP story Friday: "Gov. Pat McCrory avoided questions Friday about the state offering MetLife Inc. $94 million in tax breaks and other incentives to move thousands of jobs to North Carolina and using his former employer to help broker the deal." The Friday announcement was the second time in two days that McCrory dodged reporters' questions. The governor appears at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources today for a 12:30 p.m. announcement. Will he break his silence?

QUESTIONS MOUNT ABOUT THE INCENTIVES: At the same time, Charlotte area officials are raising questions about whether the incentives were even necessary to lure the company to the city, where half the 2,600 jobs will be located. On Saturday, less than 24 hours after a press conference announcing the deal, county commissioners questioned whether MetLife knew it was coming to Charlotte before commissioners on Tuesday gave preliminary approval for the incentives.

Commissioners Chairwoman Pat Cotham said questions about the timing of the incentives vote started to enter her mind when news broke that the company had picked North Carolina and media events were arranged – only two days after the commissioners voted. Later, she learned that some MetLife executives had already been picking out schools and colleges for their children. “In my opinion, the deal was done when we first learned of it and voted for incentives,” Cotham, a Democrat, wrote in her first email to commissioners on Saturday.

***Good morning and thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for N.C. political news and analysis. Read much more below.***

Morning Memo: GOP flirts with Charlotte for 2016 convention

GOP FLIRTS WITH CHARLOTTE: Could Charlotte do for Republicans in 2016 what it did for Democrats in 2012? The Republican National Committee’s meeting in Charlotte this week has fueled speculation that the GOP might return for its national convention in four years. “It’s always a possibility,” GOP Chairman Reince Priebus said Wednesday at the Westin hotel. “North Carolina was good to us. And it’s a red state – all the more reason to look at Charlotte.”

AFP TOUTS GOP REIGN IN NORTH CAROLINA: Tim Phillis, the national president of Americans for Prosperity, writes in a Politico op-ed that North Carolina is a state where the GOP plans to make a difference. It starts: "In Raleigh, N.C., on Jan. 11, a new free-market Republican governor celebrated his gubernatorial win at the inaugural balls. The occasion was historic for North Carolina: the first time since Reconstruction that a conservative GOP governor will be joined by free-market GOP state legislative majorities in both state legislative chambers." Read full piece here.

***This is the Dome Morning Memo a digest of important N.C. political news. Click below for more.***

Morning Memo: McCrory's approval slides, Congressman Price prominent on guns

MORNING MEMO EXCLUSIVE: GOV. McCRORY'S POLL NUMBERS SLIP. A new Public Policy Polling survey finds the new Republican governor's approval ratings at 45 percent to start his first term, down eight points from a month ago. The new poll -- set for release later Wednesday -- suggests his cabinet picks may have pulled his popularity downward. Among those who know, 31 percent approve of his cabinet and 24 percent disapprove. Likewise, more people disapprove of McCrory's controversial picks Art Pope and Tony Tata than approve, though most people aren't sure about the two.

MORE PEOPLE UNSURE: The Raleigh-based Democratic polling firm found Republicans approve 73 percent to 6 percent, independents split 43 to 23 and Democrats even at 26 percent. All the numbers are lower than the previous month, with those people unsure what to think about McCrory on the rise. The falling numbers put his approval rate at the start of his term in the neighborhood of his Democratic predecessor, Gov. Bev Perdue. Four years ago, she started with an approval rating at 43 percent.

***This is the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for breaking news, analysis and a daily news digest for North Carolina politics.

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