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Morning Memo: Let the shutdown politics begin

THEN SHUT IT DOWN: The U.S. government started shutting down early Tuesday after a bitter fight over the new health care law deadlocked the Congress and stymied every attempt to keep money flowing after the federal fiscal year ended at midnight. It was the first such collapse of the government in nearly two decades and there was no immediate way to know how long it would last or how it would end. Read more here.

NOW BLAME GAME BEGINS: Hours after the partial shutdown, the blame game started, with Democrats and Republicans trying to say the other party was responsible. North Carolina congressmen are in the crosshairs.

***Read more shutdown politics and a look at what Gov. Pat McCrory did as the impasse and a federal lawsuit against the state loomed -- it's all below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory and the Council of State will meet at 9 a.m. McCrory then hosts a roundtable with newspaper publishers, editorial page editors and managing editors at the mansion -- mirroring one with TV station leaders days ago. (Sidenote: The N&O newsroom will not be participating because the governor's office said that the meeting is off-the-record.) Later in the day, the Joint Legislative Committee on Energy Policy holds its first meeting at the legislative office building. Starts at 1 p.m.

WHAT THE SHUTDOWN MEANS IN NORTH CAROLINA: It would ripple through the economy. Read it here. And hurt the state’s tourism industry. Read it here.

IT'S THE DEMOCRATS CALLING: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began a series of robo-calls to 63 House Republicans it deems as vulnerable in the 2014 election. Among them: George Holding and Richard Hudson of North Carolina.

As first reported by Politico, the calls start like this: "While you were sleeping, Congressman (Name Here) shut down the government. ... But even worse - Congressman (Name) is still getting paid - and he's just not listening to our frustration."

N.C. DEMOCRATS TRY TO CAST BLAME ON GOP CANDIDATES: Not surprisingly, the N.C. Democratic Party is trying to spread the blame game to all Republicans -- particularly those in the 2016 field who support defunding Obamacare. From spokesman Ben Ray: "Speaker Tillis, Reverend Harris, and the rest of the Republican field have put partisan politics over North Carolina’s public servants, military families, small businesses, seniors, and veterans. ... North Carolina deserves leaders who are focused on common sense solutions to create jobs and grow the economy, not partisan politics."

RICHARD HUDSON STATEMENT: "From the beginning of this budget debate, I have been very clear about my desire to keep the government open for business while defunding the President’s harmful healthcare law. Because of Obamacare’s obvious flaws, the President has carved out delays and exemptions for big businesses and the politically connected, but has ignored the needs of hardworking middle class Americans."

VOTING LAWSUIT FACES STIFF HURDLES: The Obama administration’s decision to sue North Carolina on Monday to block new voting rules, including the oft-debated photo ID provision, was greeted with quick applause by civil rights advocates who described the measures as blatant attempts to suppress the African-American vote.

But some legal analysts as hastily offered a caution, contending that the U.S. Justice Department faces a high hurdle in trying to prove that intentional racial discrimination played a role in the election law changes. "It is going to be up to DOJ to prove that, not up to the state to disprove discrimination," said Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. "Absent smoking-gun evidence that the North Carolina legislature was motivated by racial animus, DOJ is going to have to rely on some kind of inference. That is generally a tough standard to meet."

In announcing the federal government’s plans, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder contended that his office would show that key provisions of North Carolina’s elections law are "both discriminatory in intent and in impact." Read more here.

MORE FROM McCRORY: Read more about the governor's reaction to the lawsuit here.

ABOUT THE ILLINOIS LAW: The governor poked at President Obama to make a point but didn’t get it completely right. "I believe if showing a voter ID is good enough and fair enough for our own president in Illinois, it's good enough for the people in North Carolina," he said. Illinois doesn’t require a photo ID on Election Day; it’s only for early voting. The Illinois law also accepts college IDs to vote early, unlike North Carolina. Read the law here.

Also, because McCrory compared showing an ID to flying on an airplane, the TSA says a photo ID is actually not mandatory to fly. Read about it here.

TAKE 2: In a video released after his press conference, McCrory repeats most of his lines -- but this time he gets a few of them right that he botched. And he trimmed short the statement about the Illinois law. Watch it here.

SHUTDOWN LOOMING, LAWSUIT COMING ... WHAT DID McCRORY DO? He went to the zoo: As news of the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit against North Carolina hit the papers and the federal government lurched toward a shutdown, Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday morning visited the N.C. Zoo. The governor's office promoted the visit after it concluded in a news release, though it did not make clear the pressing reason for the visit.

"The zoo is one of North Carolina’s top tourist attractions," McCrory said in the statement. "It is an outstanding recreational and educational resource for our citizens and those visiting North Carolina, and also provides a boost to the local economy."

During the visit, the governor met with the zoo director, who led him on a tour of "tour of several of the zoo’s most popular exhibits."

"Among them," the release continued, "is the polar bear exhibit," which received state funding for its construction. "The governor also visited the KidZone, a special interactive area for children, and the gorilla exhibit, where a pair of one-year-old youngsters have become one of the zoo’s top attractions."

NEW LAWS TAKE EFFECT: From AP's Gary Robertson -- North Carolina concealed weapon permit holders will have more leeway to bring their handguns into bars and restaurants and onto school and university property starting Tuesday as all or portions of more than 50 laws approved earlier this year are carried out.

Other new laws set for Oct. 1 enactment by the General Assembly will place additional rules on abortions, require new consumer protections when they're billed by hospitals and doctors, and demand higher fees for boat licensing. Read more here.

GUNS ON CAMPUS: Duke University student paper -- "As of today, licensed gun owners who are in public college in North Carolina are allowed to conceal their handguns in locked vehicles. This legislation—passed as a provision of House Bill 937 in July by Governor Pat McCrory—applies explicitly to public universities and colleges in North Carolina. Duke University officials responded by issuing a statement several days ago prohibiting guns on campus whatsoever, an avenue granted by the new bill for private institutions. Read more here.

WHY THE DHHS MESS MATTERS: From columnist Scott Mooneyham -- Despite all the problems in his health agency, Gov. Pat McCrory has not backed down from the idea of turning the state’s Medicaid program into a privatized, managed-care system. In three separate appearances lately, McCrory has reiterated his support for changing the program, which provides health care to the poor.

What the McCrory administration wants to do is have managed care companies oversee Medicaid, paying those companies a set monthly fee for each recipient enrolled. The change would make Medicaid a pure insurance program, creating an incentive for those companies to hold down costs. Read more here.

KARL ROVE -- Not just a foil for Democrats: Republican Greg Brannon, a U.S. Senate candidate, attacked his rival Thom Tillis days ago for raising money from special interests. And now Brannon is going after Karl Rove, the former Bush strategist who is helping Tillis raise money. This now puts Brannon and DEmocrat Kay Hagan in the same camp. Weird. From a Brannon fundraising pitch: "Karl Rove and the big money D.C. insiders have painted a giant bull's eye on my back. And they're raising money hand over fist for my opponent. But there's one thing my opponent doesn't have, and that's the support of grassroots conservatives like you."

WAYNE GOODWIN TO HOST FUNDRAISER: The state's Democratic Insurance Commissioner plans to raise money Oct. 2, according to the Sunlight Foundation. Read more here.

FORMER PERDUE ATTORNEY SEEKS TO KEEP HIS BENCH VIEW: AP -- An appointed member of the North Carolina Court of Appeals says he wants to keep his seat on the 15-member intermediate appeals court. Judge Mark Davis announced Monday he would run for a full term on the court in the 2014 election. Davis is a former special deputy attorney general who was most recently then-Gov. Beverly Perdue's special counsel before she appointed him to the bench in late 2012 as she left office. Read more here.

POLITICS FORCES LOOK FOR TOLL ALTERNATIVE: If there are business owners or politicians anywhere along the 182 miles of I-95 from South Carolina to Virginia who think tolls are terrific, they have kept quiet about it. But there is growing support for a toll-hybrid compromise that has been marketed nationwide under a sneaky euphemism, "express lanes." When I-95 or any expressway is widened, the original number of lanes would remain toll-free. Drivers would pay tolls only if they use the new lanes, which would be faster because they’d be less crowded. Read more here.

PERSONNEL FILE: Madison Shook, the finance director for the N.C. House Republican Caucus, is adding another title to her resume. Starting today, She'll also serve as finance director for Republican Congressman Walter Jones' campaign. "I’m very much looking forward to working with Congressman Jones and his team," Shook said. "He’s consistently been one of the highest vote getters in North Carolina’s history because of his outstanding constituent service, and his proven record of common sense, Constitutional conservatism that truly reflects Eastern North Carolina."

UPDATED: Another (much belated) note: Patrick Sebastian, the nephew of Gov. Pat McCrory, is working for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's campaign as a state director for the Republican National Committee. Christie helped McCrory frequently in his 2012 campaign, so its no surprise to see the connection continue.


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