SHOT ACROSS THE BOW? HARRIS STARTS SENATE CAMPAIGN: Rev. Mark Harris, who would be a first-time candidate, plans to appeal to conservative voters who share his values."My challenge will be to stay on that message," he said. "I don’t have to get up in the morning to read the newspaper to figure out what I believe (or) see the latest poll to see what I should believe …"
***Read more on Harris' campaign and analysis from Washington on the state's important 2014 Senate race below in the Dome Morning Memo.***
NEW REPUBLIC REPORTER QUESTIONS PPP METHODOLOGY: The buzz in the political polling world Thursday focused on an article in The New Republic magazine about Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh-based firm. It's a long piece -- and unsourced -- but take a look hereat the author's argument. And then read a response from PPP here.
FORMER GOP CHAIRMAN ROBIN HAYES TO LEAD HARRIS CAMPAIGN: A Charlotte pastor Thursday named a prominent North Carolina Republican to help lead his campaign into a still wide-open primary to pick a challenger to Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. The contest will continue to take shape this month when one of the state’s top lawmakers announces whether he’ll join the race.
The Rev. Mark Harris told more than 200 supporters in Forsyth County Thursday that former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes, who until this year led the state party, will co-chair his campaign. Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church and president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, plans to formally announce his candidacy on Oct. 2. He hopes to build on a base of social conservatives like those who helped pass last year’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
THE VIEW FROM D.C.: Jennifer Duffy, Senate analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said though the GOP field "is still pretty undefined," she considers Tillis "the nominal front-runner simply because he’s put together the most serious, credible campaign."
But a wild card in the primary could be a Republican group. American Crossroads, a group started by GOP consultant Karl Rove, launched the Conservative Victory Project to nominate electable conservatives. Spokesman Jonathan Collegio said the GOP lost a half-dozen Senate races since 2010 because of "unskilled candidates who made unforced errors."
"To this point we have been pleased with the field as it has been developing in the North Carolina Republican primary," Collegio said."But what we’re looking for is the most conservative and most electable candidate who can beat Kay Hagan next November." Read more here.
REACTION FROM THE HAGAN SIDE: Mary Stech, a spokeswoman for Emily’s List writes: "Republicans continue their saga of struggle and embarrassment in the North Carolina Senate contest, as conservative Pastor Mark Harris today announced his candidacy. Harris, a Republican who subscribes to the extreme, backward priorities of Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, continues the pattern of fringe, right-wing extremists lining up in North Carolina."
Ben Ray, a N.C. Democratic Party spokesman writes: "Mark Harris might not have the deep unpopularity of the legislature, but his agenda is a perfect match for the extremists in the general assembly. Harris is from the Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee wing of the Republican Party, and says that he was recruited to run because other Republicans didn’t have the right values. Harris criticized John McCain and Mitt Romney for not being conservative enough and is focused on fringe political debates instead of the job creation that North Carolinians care about the most. North Carolinians want a Senator focused on jobs, not refighting the culture wars."
IS NORTH CAROLINA A SWING STATE? Two Washington Post pundits debate the point: "The Fix and GovBeat’s Reid Wilson spend most of our time chewing the fat about politics. So, after Reid made a sojourn to North Carolina — and wrote, among other things, a great piece about 27 other things that the state’s voter ID law did — we started chatting about the state and its political future. Our email conversation — which touches on the presidential race, Sen. Kay Hagan’s re-election fight in 2014 and the governor’s mansion — is below."
#NCSEN -- From the conversation:
Cillizza: "I am somewhat amazed that a state that has been so heavily targeted in 2008 and 2012 at the presidential level doesn’t have a better state party that can really find a stellar recruit against Hagan, who is beatable."
Reid: "An X factor Republicans face in taking back the Senate in 2014 is that they’re snake-bit – think Sharron Angle, Richard Mourdock and Christine O’Donnell throwing away winnable Senate seats. There are plenty of opportunities for conservative Tea Party types to beat more establishment-favored candidates this time around – Alaska, Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana leap to mind – and North Carolina is in that mix." Read more here.
JONATHAN JORDAN TO DEPART LEGISLATURE? The nondenial, denial: State Rep. Jonathan Jordan, who represents the swing district in Watauga and Ashe counties, is possibly looking for a new job. From Jefferson Post: "Jordan on Wednesday responded to rumors of his preselection for county manager saying, "That’s completely false." No discussion has taken place between any of the commissioners and himself regarding his possible appointment as interim manager or county manager, he said. Asked if he plans to apply for the position, Jordan said, "I really don’t know what I’m going to do." Read more here.
CIVITAS, NAACP BATTLE: From the Institute of Southern Studies, a group critical of the Civitas Institute, comes this report: "A conservative think tank that was founded by Republican mega-donor Art Pope and that receives most of its funding from him has been pulled into a lawsuit targeting North Carolina's restrictive new voting law. Pope now serves as the North Carolina budget director under Gov. Pat McCrory (R). This week the John W. Pope Civitas Institute received a letter from an attorney representing the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and 92-year-old North Carolina voter Rosanell Eaton, who have filed a lawsuit against the governor challenging parts of House Bill 589, the Voter Identification and Verification Act (VIVA), which McCrory recently signed into law."
Civitas turned around and used it in a fundraising pitch. Read more here.
McCRORY IMMIGRATION ATTACK DOESN'T MATCH RECORDS: From the High-Point Enterprise: "The primary federal agency that investigates employers for hiring undocumented workers said it hasn’t cited a High Point employer or home furnishings company in the state during the past year, which contrasts with an accusation made last week by Gov. Pat McCrory during a speech in Raleigh.
"The Republican governor, who grew up in Jamestown, said that one of the reasons that the GOP-controlled N.C. General Assembly overrode his veto of a bill on verifying the legal status of workers is that employers in High Point associated with home furnishings aim to bring on undocumented workers.
..."The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, commonly known as ICE, served approximately 35 notices of inspection for the legal status of workers to North Carolina companies during the 2012 fiscal year. ICE issued notices of intent to fine to six companies during the same period, the agency reports. "All of the inspections involved companies in industries tied to critical infrastructure/national security or to health and safety," said Vincent Picard, an ICE spokesman at the regional office in Atlanta. None of the companies issued notices of intent to fine was a High Point employer or home furnishing company in North Carolina, Picard told The High Point Enterprise, which specifically requested the information from the agency.
McCRORY'S OFFICE WON'T COMMENT: McCrory has declined to elaborate on his undocumented workers remarks. A representative for McCrory reiterated Wednesday to the Enterprise that the governor’s office had no further comment on the matter. Read more here.
SMALL INSURER PULLS OUT ON EVE OF OBAMACARE: With less than three weeks to go before nationwide enrollment begins for subsidized insurance, FirstCarolinaCare Insurance abruptly pulled out of the North Carolina market, saying there are too many unknowns about how the Affordable Care Act will play out here. Several health care experts said FirstCarolinaCare’s case of cold feet is an indicator of the insurance industry’s anxiety that the market will be inundated with disproportionately ill people, a consequence of the Affordable Care Act making it illegal for insurers to refuse to sell coverage to anyone. Read more here.
SHELBY PAPER ASKS: Why does Raleigh oppose proposed resort? The Shelby Star writes again about lawmakers receiving Cherokee donations amid debate on a massive new casino. Read it here.
McCRORY ON HIS POLL NUMBERS: From the Asheville Citizen-Times: "I always knew we would take hits in the short term," McCrory said. He doesn’t put a lot of weight in the PPP poll, saying the company is accurate during the election year but veers off into a liberal agenda tied to groups like Progress North Carolina during off years. "There is an obvious agenda to their questions and their political objectives," he said. Read more here.
UNC BOARD COOL TO INCREASING CAP: The UNC Board of Governors showed little appetite Thursday for a proposal to admit more out-of-state students at some public campuses experiencing waning enrollment. The UNC system is considering a pilot program to raise the current 18 percent cap on out-of-state freshmen at institutions that have traditionally served minority students. Read more here.
TODAY IN POLITICS: Common Cause and college students are drawing attention to the new voting law with a Democracy Day rally at noon on the campus of Shaw University. Today is the voter registration deadline for the Wake County elections Oct. 8. The NAACP will hold a news conference to announce more details about its Moral Monday protest next week.