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Morning Memo: Clay Aiken considering political bid, John Edwards gets props – News & Observer

Will former American Idol Clay Aiken make a bid to challenge Republican Renee Ellmers in the 2nd Congressional District? The Washington Blade, citing two unnamed sources, says he’s considering it. From the piece: “The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the 35-year-old Raleigh native has taken initial steps for a run, including consulting with political operatives in Washington, D.C., about a bid for the seat.

“One Democratic source said Aiken made phone calls to gauge support, talked to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and has met with figures in Raleigh, N.C., about a potential bid. Although it’s unclear when Aiken might formally announce a decision, the source said Aiken is “actively considering” it and “sounding and acting like a candidate.”

The Blade reports that Betsy Conti, former chief of staff to then-Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue, is consulting with Aiken. If Aiken does jump into the race, he wouldn’t be alone. Keith Crisco, the former Perdue administration commerce secretary, is also making a run against Ellmers, who faces a challenger from her own party. More from the Blade here.

*** Clay Aiken and Bev Perdue aren’t the only retro political names in today’s Dome Morning Memo. Find even more below. ***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory did not issue a public schedule for Friday. No other major government public meetings are scheduled.

A FINAL NOTE ON TILLIS AD: Republican Senate candidate Thom Tilllis uses “mess” repeatedly as a buzzword in his new TV ad set for debut next week. Know who else used “mess” on the (parody) campaign stump? Watch here.

BILL FLYNN ADDS ADVISER TO CAMPAIGN: Republican Senate candidate Bill Flynn’s campaign announced that Dr. C.L. Gray, the founder of Physicians for Reform who lives in western North Carolina, joined his campaign’s advisory council as chief health care adviser. Gray is an author and nationally known speaker.

MORAL MONDAYS EXPANDS TO GEORGIA: “Georgia has gone hard right at a time when income equality is at its height, unemployment is high, we have the creation of an economy designed to provide low paying, dead-end jobs, and we need an effort to respond to that,” said State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) told GA Voice. “Moral Mondays is exactly that kind of effort.” Read more here.

JOHN LASSITER TO STEP DOWN AS RENEW CHAIRMAN: Gov. Pat McCrory’s ally on the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the privatized commerce department arm, includes John Lassiter. Lassiter also serves as a leader of the Renew North Carolina Foundation board. But he will leave in early 2014, according to AP. Read more here. (This link has been updated.)

THE BIG STORY — WITH LEGISLATIVE BLOCK, COMMON CORE IN LIMBO: The State Board of Education must decide whether it will replace state-written standardized tests with national exams, a decision freighted with financial and political implications. North Carolina has been part of a group of states guiding the creation of a national test called SMARTER Balanced, which is tied to Common Core standards for reading and math. The thought was that students statewide would begin taking the national exams next year.

…But a Common Core backlash, driven by critics who question the state’s decision to hand over control of its education standards to national groups, has complicated the decision on whether to adopt the national tests. The legislature in its budget prohibited the Board of Education from spending any money on new tests linked to the standards, including SMARTER Balanced, unless the legislature passes a law allowing it. Read more here.

#NCSEN STARTS TO HEAT UP — TV ads hit Hagan on health care law: Two TV ads unveiled Thursday – including the first in North Carolina’s Republican U.S. Senate primary – target Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan over her support of the new health care law. They echo a theme being played out across the country as Republicans and their allies pound Democrats over the law known as Obamacare. Read more here.

ATLANTIC MAGAZINE HEADLINE — Democrats in 2014 — The party of John Edwards: “In his inaugural address Wednesday, incoming New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to establish an intellectual pedigree for his focus on economic inequality. He invoked Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Franklin Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Al Smith, Frances Perkins, Fiorello La Guardia, Jacob Riis, David Dinkins, Mario Cuomo, and Harry Belafonte. It reminded me of when Democrats, eager to prove their national-security bona fides, tell audiences they hail from the party of Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy. As if there wasn’t some other Democrat after Kennedy who dabbled at war and peace, some guy from Texas.

“De Blasio’s speech was a bit like that. He left out the politician who more than any other kindled the Democrats’ renewed interest in economic inequality because that politician has been airbrushed from Democratic Party history. His name is John Edwards.” Read more here.

2 STATES TO WATCH: Former Dome-meister Ryan Teague Beckwith writes that two lesser-known states deserve more political attention: “Listen up, America: It’s time to pay more attention to North Carolina and Georgia.

“For years, the map of political swing states has kept attention on places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, but the latest population figures show things are changing in a way that will make North Carolina and Georgia more competitive.

“According to Census estimates through July 1 made available Monday, North Carolina is now the 10th largest state, surpassing New Jersey and poised to overtake Michigan sometime next year.” Read more here.

SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES LOOK TO BECOME GREATER FORCE: Politico reports that social conservative groups are preparing to play a bigger role in campaigns: “It’s all geared toward elevating the place of social issues like abortion and gay marriage in conservative politics. They’ve been largely relegated to the sidelines as the business wing of the GOP establishment wages a bitter and expensive struggle against the tea party for the soul of the Republican Party. The focus has been on fiscal issues such as Obamacare and the budget, while both sides have steered away from social issues they deem too divisive.” Read more here.

What does it mean for North Carolina? Not clear yet. But they are speaking from the same hymnal as GOP Senate candidate Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte when it comes to the issues.

POLITICAL LOSERS OF 2013: From National Journal … “Red-state Democratic senators. With President Obama’s approval rating at all-time lows and his health care law under siege, the four red-state Democratic senators up in 2014—Mary Landrieu, Kay Hagan, Mark Begich, and Mark Pryor—are in serious trouble. Democrats probably will need to hold at least two of their seats to maintain a Senate majority, but the odds of that aren’t looking great.” Read more here.

STATE BEGINS ISSUING VOTER IDS: AP –North Carolina has starting issuing free photo identification cards in preparation for new voter requirements. On Thursday, the state Division of Motor Vehicles started issuing the photo ID cards to people who don’t have other forms of identification.

The photo requirement, which would start with the 2016 presidential election, was part of a sweeping 2013 election reform bill approved at the end of last year’s legislative session. It also changed dozens of other voting and campaign rules. Groups including the U.S. Justice Department, the state chapter of the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union have sued Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina Board of Elections over the voting changes. A judge has said no trial will happen until after the 2014 elections.

RICHARD BURR ON JOHN BOEHNER: “He was pretty frustrated during the shutdown,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., a Boehner friend from his House days, told AP. “But he was in fairly high spirits” by the time the House left town, Burr said. Read more here.


Janet Cowell’s State Health Plan problems persist. Read more here.

Marcus Brandon makes Governing magazine’s top state legislators to watch. Read it here.

Federal judge in Florida strikes down drug testing law similar to one McCrory vetoed and legislature overrode. Read more here.

Phil Berger makes GovBeat’s list of emerging stars. Read it here.

Morning Memo: Clay Aiken considering political bid, John Edwards gets props – News & Observer}

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