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Morning Memo: Vice President Biden to raise money for Kay Hagan

VICE PRESIDENT TO HEADLINE HAGAN FUNDRAISER: Vice President Joe Biden will visit North Carolina on Oct. 21 to help Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan raise campaign cash for her re-election bid in 2014. Biden will speak at a luncheon at the Washington Duke Inn in Durham, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by Dome.

The top ticket costs $10,000 and includes a photo and special host reception. The lowest priced ticket is $500 for the reception. The money will go to Hagan’s joint fundraising committee with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has higher donation limits.

A day earlier, Hagan will hold another fundraiser in Durham at the Deer Chase Gardens hosted by Marcia Angle and Mark Trustin, the property’s owners. The more than two-dozen hosts for the reception are paying $1,000 each. The top ticket is the maximum federal contribution to a candidate, $2,600. The host list includes big local Democratic donors, such as John Replogle, John Sall and Amy Tiemann. The minimum ticket costs $150.

***Read more about the 2014 Senate race and more below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Hundreds furloughed; U.S. Senate candidates make moves

HUNDREDS OF STATE WORKERS FURLOUGHED: The federal government shutdown caused the furlough of hundreds of state government workers whose jobs are fully or partially federally funded Tuesday, and state officials said several thousand more jobs could be be affected.

The state Department of Health and Human Services told 337 employees not to show up for work Wednesday morning. Officials said as many 4,500 DHHS workers could be furloughed or see their hours reduced. There was also a smaller furlough in the Department of Transportation, and a small group of workers at the state Labor Department saw their hours slashed in half.

#NCSEN DAY: The Republican challengers in the U.S. Senate race are all making moves this week to position themselves. Charlotte Pastor Mark Harris enters the race today, Thom Tillis is hiring staff and Greg Brannon is touting fundraising numbers.

***Read all the U.S. Senate race news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Hagan gets opponent; Records show deeper DHHS troubles

KAY HAGAN GETS A FEISTY CHALLENGER: All the attention is focused on the Republicans vying to replace Democrat Kay Hagan in the U.S. Senate. But Hagan, too, will face a primary challenger. The Fayetteville Observer reports that Fred Westphal, a retired educator from outside Fayetteville, plans to make a bid. And he’s mighty sure of his chances. "She doesn’t have a chance against me," Westphal, 76, told The Fayetteville Observer. "She won’t get the party nomination."

INTERNAL EMAILS SHED MORE LIGHT ON DHHS TROUBLES: The state agency overseeing the new computer system that sends money to health professionals treating poor patients downplayed problems with the software even as complaints rolled in to Gov. Pat McCrory’s office from doctors, dentists and medical equipment companies.

Correspondence obtained by The News & Observer from McCrory’s office show that complaints were flowing in from frustrated health care providers, with some appealing directly to his chief of staff and his lawyer, by the end of July. Those complaints were passed on to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the system. On Aug. 5, DHHS sent out the news release "NCTracks is on Track."

***Read more from the DHHS records and get a full political news roundup below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

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.***

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.***

Morning Memo: National Republicans launch billboards targeting Hagan

REPUBLICANS LAUNCH BILLBOARDS HITTING KAY HAGAN: The National Republican Senatorial Committee is debuting seven billboards across the state targeting U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's support for the federal health care law. Republicans are trying to make the case that Hagan, a Democrat facing re-election in 2014, accomplished nothing besides supporting Obamacare in the first five years of her term. (See a copy of the billboard here.)

"Kay Hagan promised North Carolinians that she would govern as a centrist, but instead has been a Democratic partisan, supporting the President's signature initiatives lock, stock and barrel," said Brook Hougesen, a NRSC spokeswoman.

The effort is designed to put the one-term incumbent -- who polls show is vulnerable -- on the defensive while the GOP struggles to find a dominant candidate. House Speaker Thom Tillis is the most prominent name in the race but other major Republicans are still considering whether to run. Cary physician Greg Brannon, a tea party candidate, is also making a bid. The billboards are located in Greensboro, Charlotte, Winston-Salem and the Raleigh-Durham area.

***More North Carolina political news -- including U.S. Senate campaign updates -- below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo:Petition calls on McCrory to veto voter ID law

More than 10,000 NC residents have signed a petition asking Gov. Pat McCrory to veto the voter ID bill that passed the legislature last week. At a press conference Friday, McCrory indicated he would sign the bill although he also admitted he was unfamiliar with a part of it. The bill morphed from one focused on having voters show a photo ID at the polls to one that includes changes to early voting, campaign finance and the state's presidential primary. It also lets any registered voter challenge another's vote on election day and repeals Stand By Your Ad and other provisions. See the list here. Welcome to Dome's Morning Memo on this Wednesday.

Ellmers says she won't run for U.S. Senate

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers said today she will not run for the U.S. Senate.

Ellmers, a Dunn Republican in her second term, had been mentioned as a possible challenger to Democratic U.S. Sen Kay Hagan. Ellmers said earlier she was thinking about entering the Senate race. Instead, she said in an statement Tuesday, she intends to run for re-election to the House.

"After a great deal of reflection and prayer, I have come to the decision that I will run for re-election in the U.S. House of Representatives," she wrote. "This was not an easy decision to make, but the right one for me, my family, and the second district of North Carolina. I have been very blessed to get to where I am now and owe my accomplishments to God, my husband Brent, and my son Ben."

In her statement, Ellmers emphasizes the need for Republicans to connect with women.

Dr. Greg Brannon and House Speaker Thom Tillis are the announced candidates in the GOP primary, but other Republicans are considering the race.

Ellmers raises only a congressional-level money

If Rep. Renee Ellmers gets into the U.S. Senate race, she would have to play catch up on fund raising.

Ellmers, a second term Republican from Dunn, reported raising $158,000 in the second quarter, not a large amount for a candidate who is considering a U.S. Senate bid., according to Roll Call, a Capitol Hill publication. She had $180,000 in cash on hand as of June 30th. As Monday her report had not been put on line by the Federal Election Commission.

That compares with the more than $2 million raised by Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in the second quarter and the $4.2 million she reports having on her hand.

House Speaker Thom Tillis' report had not yet been filed, but his campaign has said he will report raising $300,000 during a several week since he announced and will report $250,000 on hand.

National GOP still trying to recruit an opponent for Hagan

UPDATED: 3:11 p.m.: Word on street is that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is in Raleigh on a recruiting trip to find an opponent for Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan next year.

The GOP operative is talking with Senate leader Phil Berger and Congresswoman Renee Ellmers or at least their people, to see if they have an interest in running next year. Berger confirmed to Dome he met with NRSC representatives Tuesday morning.

The scouting trip suggests that the national party is not yet completely sold on House Speaker Thom Tillis, the major GOP candidate who has announced his candidacy.

That was reflected in a blog by former NRSC consultant Jim Ellis who wrote Monday that North Carolina was one of three Senate races that "show some promise for Republicans but are regarded as major candidate recruiting disappointments.''

"Sen. Kay Hagan should be on the top of the vulnerability list, but she's not,'' Ellis writes. "Republicans didn't draw a top-tier challenge candidate, but we'll see if state House Speaker Thom Tillis' campaign can develop. Considering the legislature's poor approval ratings, Tillis has an even steeper hill to climb to position himself for victory.''

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