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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: Harris stakes his ground; GOP lawmaker presses McCrory

HARRIS DECLARES HE'S THE SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE IN THE RACE: The Rev. Mark Harris, a leading social conservative, entered the North Carolina Senate race Wednesday, setting up a potential insider/outsider GOP primary showdown next May with House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Harris, the outgoing president of the state Baptist Convention, said he would campaign as a staunch advocate for lowering taxes, reducing government, ending Obamacare and protecting gun rights, that he would back measures that he believes would improve “traditional moral values.” Read more here.

GOP SENATOR SAYS McCRORY ADMINISTRATION IS BREAKING THE LAW: A high-ranking Republican state senator said Wednesday that Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration is flouting the law. Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, complained that McCrory hasn’t named an independent Unemployment Review Board to review decisions on unemployment benefits made by the state Division of Employment Security. Rucho’s remarks came during a legislative committee meeting where lawmakers were questioning Dale Folwell, the agency’s head. Read more here.

***Read more on the Harris announcement and a North Carolina political roundup 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: 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.***

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx won't run for U.S. Senate

Republican U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx says she won't enter the GOP primary for the chance to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan next year.

In an announcement Tuesday afternoon, Foxx said she already has "the best job in North Carolina."

The Banner Elk Republican has ridden atop some polls for months as a voter favorite for the race. Foxx called the encouragement humbling, but said she wants to continue representing her district.

"North Carolina deserves a United States Senator who is committed to increasing freedom and also to reducing the size of Washington's footprint in our lives," Foxx said in a statement. "That starts with electing a Senator who is committed to undoing President Obama's job-crushing heath care overhaul and getting our outrageous national deficit under control. Our conservative candidate for Senate will have my utmost support."

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers of Dunn announced a few weeks ago she wouldn't be running for U.S. Senate.

House Speaker Thom Tillis and Dr. Greg Brannon are in the GOP primary. A few others, including Senate leader Phil Berger, are thinking about getting in.

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: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to attend Wake fundraiser

JAN BREWER TO ATTEND WAKE GOP FUNDRAISER: The Wake County Republican Party announced Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer will attend a Sept. 14 fundraiser in Raleigh for the local party's fall candidates. The announcement email includes the now infamous photo of Brewer, a Republican, wagging her finger upon meeting President Barack Obama at an airport tarmac. The top ticket for the fundraiser is a $5,000 VIP package and a single ticket is $75. The party expects the event to sell out.

THE MUMMIES RETURN: From columnist Rob Christensen-- "We have seen this before in North Carolina – the reign of the green-eyeshaded men who thought low taxes trumped all, and if there were any coins left in the till at the end of the day they would throw it into the education pot.

"It was called the 1800s. And Walter Hines Page had a name for them. He called North Carolina’s leaders “the mummies” as in very old, well-wrapped, very dead Egyptians because of their complacent conservatism." Read his full column here.

***Get more North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

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.

Morning Memo: Abortion bill stirs opposition, puts McCrory, Tillis in tough spot

A TEXAS SHOW AT THE NC STATEHOUSE? The Senate's blind-sided rush to push a far-reaching measure to limit access to abortions Tuesday evening is stirring opposition groups. NARAL posted an alert on its Facebook page, telling its supporters to come to the Legislative Building on Wednesday morning “to let them know we are watching.” Within a few hours, more than 150 people had posted that they’d be traveling to the legislature Wednesday morning. Action NC also sent emails calling on supporters to pack the Senate gallery this morning. It's not likely to draw the 5,000-some who flooded the Texas legislature earlier this week to support Wendy Davis, but expect vocal opposition.

THE POLITICS OF THE ABORTION BILL: Beyond the policy, the politics of the abortion bill are fascinating. The Senate is doing a better job than Democrats putting House Speaker Thom Tillis and Gov. Pat McCrory in a tight spot on tough issues. McCrory said he doesn't support further limits to abortion. And Tillis is simultaneously attempting to prevent a serious challenge from his right in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in 2014 while also setting sights on Democratic Kay Hagan. Even more than McCrory, what Tillis does with this legislation when it comes to his chamber is the key to watch. But right now it's like someone is trying to make it difficult on him.

***The House is vacationing but the Senate is making big headlines. Read more N.C. political news and analysis below in today's Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Tillis likely a 'no' on immigration; Ellmers weighs Senate race

TILLIS LIKELY WOULD HAVE VOTED 'NO' ON IMMIGRATION BILL: House Speaker Thom Tillis said Thursday he likely would have voted against a bipartisan immigration measure approved by the U.S. Senate. The Cornelius Republican is making a bid to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in the 2014 elections. Hagan voted for the bill. Tillis, after initially saying he hadn't looked at the bill, added that he shares "a lot of the concerns that Sen. (Richard) Burr has and Sen. (Jerry) Moran." Burr and Moran voted against.

Pressed on how he would have voted, Tillis said, "I'm not informed enough to know how I would go but most likely I would have taken the position of the majority the Republicans." The majority opposed the bill but 14, including Sens. Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and John McCain, voted in favor.

ELLMERS TO DECIDE IN NEXT TWO WEEKS ABOUT U.S. SENATE BID: Roll Call has the update -- Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., has pushed back her timeline to make a decision about the Senate race for another couple weeks. “I haven’t quite reached my full decision, but I think I know where I’m leaning,” Ellmers told Roll Call on Thursday between votes on Capitol Hill.

***More on Ellmers decision below, along with the disbandment of the Beard Caucus and more legislative news in the Dome Morning Memo.***

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