The bloodletting in North Carolina politics isn’t quite finished.
A week ago, Governor Pat McCrory conceded the bitterly fought race to his Democrat challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper.
McCrory was possibly the most successful governor in the nation, at the time, having achieved sweeping tax reform, ending the state’s federal debt, building up a hefty surplus and rainy day fund, and attracting over 300,000 new jobs to the state – all in less than four years in office.
However, outside, liberal interests poured money into the state to defeat him during the election cycle, paying top dollar for multiple attack ads, as well as shipping in paid protesters each week.
Liberals were joined by feckless Republicans from Mecklenburg and New Hanover County, who “revenge voted,” based on single issues, such as McCrory’s support for toll roads on I-77, north of Charlotte, or cuts to incentives for the movie industry in the Wilmington area.
It was enough to squeak out a win for Cooper, but Republicans won the state, overall, holding on to the majority in the state House and Senate.
On Wednesday, Governor McCrory called a special session of the state legislature, in order to draft a bill for disaster recovery, as many areas around the state are still trying to recover from the damage of Hurricane Matthew, in October, and wildfires that damaged much of western North Carolina several weeks ago.
Unanimously, the Disaster Recovery Act of 2016 was passed.
However, as it is with politics and politicians, nothing is ever so simple, and there are always lawmakers who will take advantage of these special sessions to push for something extracurricular to the initial intent.
State Democrats are losing their collective minds today over measures introduced during the special session that stepped outside of the purpose of disaster recovery.
As reported from the New York Times:
Republican lawmakers who control the General Assembly introduced measures to end the governor’s control over election boards, to require State Senate approval of the new governor’s cabinet members and to strip his power to appoint University of North Carolina trustees.
Republicans also proposed to substantially cut the number of state employees who serve at the governor’s pleasure, giving Civil Service protections to hundreds of managers in state agencies who have executed the priorities of Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican.
If the measures pass the legislature, where Republicans hold large majorities in both chambers, and Mr. McCrory signs off, they would significantly hamstring the new governor, Roy Cooper, who takes office in January. Mr. McCrory conceded the race last week after a nearly monthlong challenge of the vote, a hard-fought race that followed four years in which unified Republican control of state government brought a wave of restrictions on voting access, abortion and gay rights.
Yes, we know the New York Times is rife with partisan hand-wringing, so that “wave of restrictions” bit there was just northeast liberal hyperbole, very much out of touch with the realities of life in the southeast.
It gets better.
Democratic leaders accused Republicans of trying to undo the election results. “This is an unprecedented, shameful and cowardly power grab from the Republicans,’’ said Jamal Little, a spokesman for the state’s Democratic Party. “After losing the governor’s office, the G.O.P.-controlled General Assembly is attempting to hold on to power that voters took away from them.”
Mr. Cooper rebuked Republicans in milder terms. Lawmakers “should focus on higher teacher pay, better wages for working North Carolinians and repealing H.B. 2,” he said in a Twitter message. House Bill 2 is North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” that nullified protections for gay and transgender residents.
And there’s the rub…
Cooper’s long and pathetic tenure as North Carolina’s Attorney General should have disqualified him from even leading a boy scout troop, but because he was a useful tool for pushing the liberal agenda, he was their go-to guy this election.
He has a string of bad decisions and bad appointments under his belt that should give anyone paying attention pause.
Ken Eudy is the anti-military senior advisor he has chosen, for a state that is home to the largest military base in the world (Fort Bragg), as well as Marine installments at Cherry Point and Camp LeJuene.
In 2014, another Cooper appointee, director of the North Carolina crime lab, Joe John, proved so ineffective that the state General Assembly sought to relocate the lab, in order to clear up the massive backlog.
This was under Cooper’s lackadaisical leadership as Attorney General. Why he would want to take on more responsibility when he barely did the job he was assigned to for over 15 years, is beyond me.
In fact, Cooper shirked his duties as the state’s top law enforcement officer on more than one occasion, choosing only to defend the state when it suited his partisan views.
Most notably, he refused to step up when the Department of Justice committed an act of breathtaking government overreach, in threatening to sue the state, should they not drop the legally approved bathroom bill.
If Cooper feels he’s only beholden to do his job, as it appeals to his partisan puppet masters – most of them from outside of the state – then he’s not a good fit for leadership.
That being said, the cries of state Democrats that the moves made by Republicans in the special session are somehow out of line are nothing more than partisan grandstanding.
For starters, everything Republicans are proposing is perfectly legal. They are within their rights to exert such measures, in order to assure the gains made by the state in the past four years are not lost because of a governor who has proposed higher taxes, and even went on TV to scoff at the idea of having a hefty “rainy day” fund put away, in case of statewide disasters.
Seriously, I shudder to think of where North Carolina would be, had Cooper been the governor when Hurricane Matthew hit. McCrory and the General Assembly’s work in building up the state surplus and the disaster fund was nothing short of genius.
What’s more, state Democrats are being rather disingenuous in crying foul, when they have an agenda of their own that they have sought to push in the special session.
One example is Rep. Larry Hall, a Democrat who tweeted out this, on December 6:
Badly needed #HurricaneMatthew relief is only topic this special session should address–#NoCourtpackingInNC! #ncpol https://t.co/V52dYZanPz
— Larry Hall (@RepHall_Durham) December 6, 2016
Ok, that’s fine, Mr. Hall, so why did you introduce two bills on redistricting during a special session that was meant to address disaster relief? Hypocrisy, much?
(1/2) Filing deadline was 5PM. Rep. Hall (D) filed 2 bills (HB5 + HB6) dealing with Independent Redistricting: https://t.co/tU8BupVUPf #ncga
— Democracy NC (@democracync) December 13, 2016
Bottom line: McCrory has to sign off on the new proposals brought by Republicans during the special sessions.
The important bill for disaster relief, that’s a done deal. McCrory has been on top of the issues caused by Hurricane Matthew and the wildfires from day one. He’s not letting this one go, and it’s the right thing to do.
Limiting someone with the record of Cooper from undoing all the good McCrory and Republicans have done for the state is also a good move, but tricky.
Should Democrats regain control of the General Assembly, could these moves backfire?
It’s apparently the risk the NC GOP are willing to take, in order to save the state now.
What shouldn’t happen, however, is this drumbeat of legislative purity that Democrats are now claiming.
It doesn’t exist.