Under the Dome

Morning Memo: Cooper's unofficial debut; peek inside GOP voters' minds

ROY COOPER'S DEBUT: Attorney General Roy Cooper is the featured speaker Saturday morning at the N.C. Democratic Party's Western Gala. The speech at the women's breakfast will serve as his unofficial debut in the 2016 governor's race. In recent weeks, Cooper has made his intentions to run clear and the event will give him a platform to begin gathering Democratic support as other party challengers emerge. Later in the evening, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and R.T. Rybak, the vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will speak at the party fundraiser.

***A must-read analysis of Republicans and its potential impact on the N.C. Senate race below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory declared Oct. 4 as Manufacturing Day in North Carolina and he is planning to tour the state for a series of economic development announcements.

From AP: The governor will start the morning at Cape Fear Community College outside Wilmington, while Decker will visit North Carolina State University. Later, Decker has an "economic development announcement" to make in Lumberton, with McCrory offering similar news in Shelby. The pair will meet for an afternoon development announcement at Davidson County Community College in Lexington. "Manufacturing Day" is the idea of three groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers.

Back in Raleigh, Shaw University students are holding a rally to condemn the new GOP-drafted election law that requires a voter ID. The studetns will "march to the polls" to show support for same-day voter registration, another provision elminated in the new law. This fall's local elections is the final time same-day registration will be allowed. The event starts at noon at the university's student center.

At the legislature, the joint oversight committee on transportation will meet at 3 p.m.

MUST-READ -- A LOOK INSIDE REPUBLICAN VOTERS’ MINDS: A political research outfit that studied the base of the Republican Party conducted extensive focus groups to look at what motivates the party’s three main factions: evangelicals, tea partiers and moderates. The study -- from Stan Greenberg and James Carville at Democracy Corps -- included a focus group in Raleigh and those who participated are quoted extensively in the 30-page

THE QUESTION FOR #NCSEN 2014: Will the tea party control the North Carolina Senate race? Evangelical Republicans and tea party Republicans are not the same voters, the report concludes. Evangelicals are focused on social issues; tea partiers don’t care about them at all. The implications are huge for the state’s Senate race. As a pastor, GOP candidate Mark Harris can lock the evangelicals. Rival Thom Tillis can win the moderates, focused on the economy. But who will win the tea partiers, a dedicated set of voters in the GOP base? Greg Brannon, a little-known candidate, is trying his best. But the GOP primary for the Senate may hinge on how tea party voters break -- or which part of the base shows up at the polls.

NC CONGRESSMAN AT CENTER OF SHUTDOWN DEFENDS HIS STANCE: U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows says he is doing what the majority of his constituents want in shutting down the government over Obamacare despite the potential hit to small businesses and programs for the poor that could run out of money by month’s end.

"We’ve got people calling our office every single day saying that they are getting their insurance bill and they don’t know what to do," he said. "I mean it’s four, five six hundred dollar increases. The stories are piling up in our office in terms of real harms." Read more here.

SHUTDOWN DAY 4: AP -- The government shutdown could last for many days or even weeks because politically safe lawmakers in both parties feel little pressure to compromise. Heavily gerrymandered districts make many House Democrats and Republicans virtual shoo-ins for re-election, insulating them from everything but the views in their slice of the country. That means some lawmakers can be greeted as heroes back home even if nationally the budget standoff comes to be viewed with scorn.

For decades, lawmakers have redrawn congressional boundaries to pack districts with like-minded people and ensure easy re-election for incumbents. But election results and lawmakers' voting patterns show that the House is more sharply divided along party lines than perhaps at any other point in modern times. Read more here.

2014 CHALLENGERS JOIN THE SHUTDOWN BLAME GAME: Democrat Laura Fjeld is taking Republican Congressman Howard Coble to task for the federal government’s partial shutdown. "This unnecessary government shutdown hurts North Carolina families and businesses at every level, but Congressman Howard Coble caused it along with the rest of his Tea Party bloc," Fjeld said in a statement. "We've got a process for lawmakers to address changes in a law they don't like, and it's not the ideological blackmail that Congressman Coble is engaging in."

Fjeld is a former vice president and general counsel for the UNC system seeking to challenge Coble in 2014.

THE INVISIBLE MAN: As Democrats call out Republicans for the shutdown, the one name they are not saying: Congressman Mike McIntyre, a Lumberton Democrat who sided with Republicans in the budget votes.

McCRORY MAKES UNEXPECTED VISIT TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EVENT: The Wilmington Star-News reported that Gov. Pat McCrory unexpectedly visited a Take Back the Night event Thursday. From the report: "McCrory said that after leaving a nearby business event he noticed the crowd and stopped to listen to and speak with participants who were highlighting October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. "I've seen it first hand as a mayor and as a governor. Domestic violence is one of the cruelest things that can happen in a community or to a family," McCrory said. "It's one of the most difficult things for police to handle, too."

"When asked what could be done to combat domestic violence in the state, McCrory said a two-fold approach with both prevention measures and stronger laws is needed. "One thing is education; mental health, alcohol and drug counseling ... so often drugs and alcohol are involved in the crime," McCrory said. "The second is we've got to have policies to immediately take the abuser out of the home on the first call – not the last call." Read more here.

TEACHER WALKOUT PLANNED TO PROTEST LOW PAY: A proposed statewide teacher walk-out to protest pay and working conditions is getting a mixed response from the people it is supposed to benefit.

Some think skipping school en masse could give teachers leverage in budgeting decisions, while others see the proposed disruption as a set-back to their relationships with parents, administrators and students.

Word of the proposed Nov. 4 protest first spread via a pseudonymous web posting and now has a Wake County teacher as a central advocate. The plan calls for teachers to not show up for school that day to press for "a fair balance between workload, expectations and compensation for our teachers," according to a rallying cry on Facebook and at

Despite the name, organizers of the "walk-out" are encouraging teachers to call in sick or schedule an appointment rather than show up for school and then leave. More than a month before the event, about 520 people had registered online as "going," but organizers said the true turn-out would be nearly impossible to predict. Read more here.

ONE TO WATCH: THOM TILLIS: The pressure is on for U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis. Roll Call said his campaign finance report due Oct. 15 is a "top five" to watch. Read more here.

STATE BOARD ADOPTS TESTING STANDARDS: The State Board of Education adopted passing scores for standardized tests Thursday after toying with the idea of lowering the bar so more students would pass. The board unanimously voted for scoring standards that mean failure rates of greater than 50 percent in most of the reading, math and science tests students took last spring. Read more here.

SEANC NAMES ITS TOP LAWMAKERS: The State Employees Association of North Carolina’s political action committee named Republican Rep. Tim Moore of Kings Mountain and Mitchell Setzer of Catawba as its legislators of the year. "Both Moore and Setzer were instrumental in the fight to protect the State Health Plan and retirement system from harmful changes and went above and beyond in supporting public services and the people who provide them," the group said.

PITTENGER'S HOME BROKEN INTO: From WBTV in Charlotte -- "Police in Charlotte are investigating after someone broke into a North Carolina congressman's home. According to his office, Congressman Robert Pittenger's house was broken into on Thursday afternoon. WBTV has learned that no one was home at the time and all of Pittenger's family members are safe." Read more here.

AFP SAYS GET YOUR TEA PARTY DIGS STRAIGHT: From Donald Bryson, policy specialist for Americans for Prosperity in North Carolina: "In saying that, "The government shutdown illustrates for every American that the hallmark of the Tea Party Republican House continues to be ironclad opposition to reasonable solutions," U.S. Rep. David Price, a North Carolina Democrat, attempted to do two things with the TEA Party movement: Lump it together with the Republican Party and completely dismiss any policy ideas that emerge from the movement.

Price’s statement came after Sen. Harry Reid’s Sept. 25 statement on the floor of the U.S. Senate when he called the TEA Party movement, "the new anarchy." So much for civil political dialogue. What is troubling about these statements is the glaring misunderstanding of the grassroots conservative movement called the "TEA Party" and their attempts to whisk it away without a thought or care to the legitimacy of any of its arguments. Read more here.

FOR THOSE KEEPING SCORE: An interactive graphic of some of Gov. Pat McCrory's hires has been updated with information about Andy Lancaster, who worked on the campaign. Lancaster, 47, was hired Jan. 5, and received a promotion and $18,000 raise on Feb. 18. He makes $75,000 a year as a senior assistant for government affairs. See it here.

WIC PROGRAM CONTINUES: A state-run but federally funded program designed to ensure proper nutrition for pregnant women and their young children is still taking applications for now in North Carolina despite the partial government shutdown in Washington.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday it can enroll new applicants for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children through at least next Tuesday. Current enrollees should continue receiving help for now, although that's subject to change. Read more here.

CANCELLED: The 34th annual statewide public transportation conference, scheduled next week in Raleigh, has been postponed indefinitely because most of the state Department of Transportation's public transportation workers are on furlough. Read more here.

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