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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.

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.***

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.

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.

Morning Memo: State to probe gambling money; contentious day in N.C. House

STATE ELECTION OFFICIALS TO INVESTIGATE GAMBLING DONATIONS: State elections officials are calling for an investigation of $235,000 in political donations to dozens of North Carolina candidates from an Oklahoma sweepstakes operator, contributions that they say may have violated state campaign finance laws, AP reported. Gov. Pat McCrory, state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger are among those who received the checks, many of them mailed from a Charlotte lobbying firm where McCrory worked until just before he took office.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House will consider three highly contentious measures Tuesday: first, a sweeping immigration bill at 10 a.m. in House Judiciary Subcommittee B and a gun bill at the same time in House Judiciary Subcommittee A, and then, at 2 p.m., the full House convenes to hear a voter ID measure. Immigration advocates are expected to appear in full force at the legislative building today to lobby. Also today: a House panel will also consider a bill to adopt a state marsupial, among other state symbols, and a Senate committee will hear a bill to make hospitals more transparent in their billing.

Gov. Pat McCrory -- and legislative leaders -- will attend the NFIB meeting in Raleigh at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. Later in the day, the governor will sign Kilah's Law (HB75) at a 4:30 p.m. ceremony at the Capitol.

Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- our thoughts are with Jamie and Nation Hahn's family and friends today. More North Carolina political news and analysis below.

Hagan leads all potential GOP foes with Berry her strongest opponent

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan continues to lead all of her potential GOP opponents, with Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry remaining her strongest opponent, according to a new poll.

Hagan would beat Berry by a 46-41 percent margin, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic leaning firm based in Raleigh.

Hagan would defeat Congresswoman Renee Ellmers by a 48-40 margin and Congresswoman Virginia Foxx and stateSenate leader Phil Berger by a 48-39 percent margin, according to the po9ll. She would defeat House Speaker Thom Tillis by a 49-39 percent margin and Cary physician Greg Brannon by a 49-36 percent margin.

The poll shows that Hagan has lost little support since she announced her support for gay marriage. Her job approval was 39 percent and disapproval was 37 percent,

compared to a month ago when it was 42 percent approval and 39 percent disapproval.

In the Republican primary, the field is wide open. Berry leads among GOP voters with 18 percent followed by Foxx with 13 percent, Ellmers with 12 percent, Berger with 11 percent, Tillis with 7 percent, Brannon with 6 percent and 1 percent for Terry Embler.

The survey of 601 voters was conducted April 11-14 and had a margin of error of 4 percent. The subset of 468 Republican voters for the primary question had a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest new potential leader in 2014 Senate poll

"Another month, another frontrunner" -- that's how Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen described the latest U.S. Senate numbers in North Carolina.

As previewed in the Morning Memo, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest leads the potential GOP field with 18 percent, according to the March poll from the Democratic firm. When Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry landed at the top of the heap in February poll, she went public saying she was looking at the U.S. Senate race. Forest? His office has yet to return a message from early this morning seeking comment. Even though he narrowly squeaked out a victory in November, his political views would put him in a good position for a GOP primary. (See the full PPP results here.)

Ellmers receives award from American Conservative Union

The American Conservative Union has named U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers of Dunn one of its 2012 ACU Conservatives.

A whopping 91 percent of Ellmers' votes made the ACU happy, but she still fell short of its Defender of Liberty title which requires every vote on certain bills picked by ACU to match the organization's desires. ACU looks at votes on bills that "serve as a clear litmus test separating those representatives who defend liberty and liberal members who have turned their backs on our founding principles."

The ACU argues for limited government, individual liberty, free markets, a strong national defense and traditional values.

Other N.C. representatives who scored above 80 percent included Howard Coble of Greensboro, Virginia Foxx of Banner Elk, Patrick McHenry of Cherryville and Sue Myrick of Charlotte, who is now retired.

The ACU award comes the day after the Club for Growth — which supports limited growth and low taxes — tagged Ellmers as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and put her on a a list of Republicans that scored below 70 percent on the club's scorecard.

Hagan ranks in Senate's ideological middle; Ellmers among most conservative

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan ranks in the ideological middle, according to the latest rankings from the National Journal. The Democrat, who faces re-election in 2014, ranks the 48th most liberal of the 100 senators, or 52 most conservative, depending on how you look at it.

Her Republican counterpart U.S. Sen. Richard Burr is the 23rd most conservative member in the chamber, the nonpartisan national political magazine found. National Journal ranked the lawmakers on 116 votes that showed differences in ideological viewpoint in the 112th Congress.

Among Democrats in the House, Congressman David Price is the most liberal at No. 32, followed by Mel Watt (45), former U.S. Rep. Brad Miller (83), G.K. Butterfield (121). On the Republican side, former U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick was the 32nd most conservative, followed by Reps. Renee Ellmers (43), Virginia Foxx (55), Patrick McHenry (62), Howard Coble (153) and Walter Jones (242).

Hagan leads prospective GOP opponents in 2014 race

North Carolina voters are divided about Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, but she leads any of prospective Republican opponents, according to a new poll.

Only 34 percent of voters approve of the job that Hagan is doing, while 36 percent disapprove, and 31 percent have no opinion, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic leaning firm based in Raleigh.

But Hagan leads all potential opponents. She leads GOP Congresswoman Renee Ellmers by a 46-40 percent margin, Congressman Patrick McHenry by a 45-39 percent margin, and Congresswoman Virginia Foxx by a 47-40 percent margin.

She also leads Congressman George Holding by a 45-37 percent margin, Congressman Robert Pittenger by a 46-38 percent margin, state Senate leader Phil Berger by a 47-38 percent margin, and state House Speaker Thom Tillis by a 47-37 percent margin.

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