North Carolina’s former Governor Pat McCrory left some big shoes to fill – shoes the current governor may not be fit to fill out.
After conceding the gubernatorial race to challenger Roy Cooper in December 2016, McCrory has kept his head low, only occasionally surfacing on radio or television news programs to give commentary.
At one point, he made an appearance at Trump Tower during the transition period, raising questions as to if he would be named a part of the new administration.
Valid question, considering his name was floated in some circles as a potential VP pick, before Mike Pence eventually got the nod.
On Tuesday night, the former governor was in his hometown of Charlotte, NC to receive the Charlotte Rotary Club’s Excellence in Leadership Award.
“I’m just waiting for Warren Beatty to come up and say they had the wrong envelope,” said McCrory, referencing the actor who mistakenly declared “La La Land” the winner instead of “Moonlight.”
Speaking to a packed ballroom at a Charlotte country club, McCrory said that he is “not done yet,” despite losing his reelection bid in November – which he said was “almost like the Oscar awards, when they initially said I was the winner.”
The question may be what “not done” looks like for McCrory. It’s a question worth asking, as he has proven to be a model of successful leadership. The Libertarian-leaning Cato Institute rated him the #2 governor in the nation, with an “A” rating for his tax policy.
He also worked with the North Carolina General Assembly to cancel a $2.6 billion debt to the federal government, and turned it into a surplus of more than $550 million.
He brought over 300,000 new jobs to the state, and he accomplished all of this in less than four years.
“I’ve been approached (about federal government positions),” said McCrory, who also served as mayor of Charlotte for 12 years. “I’ve still got a lot of energy to lead and make a difference in our community and state, whether it’s in the public or private sector. I’m exploring a lot of options right now.”
He has also steadfastly held to his position that HB2, the controversial bathroom bill that restricted access to bathrooms and locker rooms by sex, was the right thing to do.
McCrory called the efforts underway in Raleigh to pass a repeal compromise to HB2 a “reasonable alternative.”
“I hope the mayor and the current governor do not block another effort to find resolution. That’s been my hope – I’ve tried two or three times to find resolution, and the governor and the mayor blocked those efforts through pressure and raising a lot of money keeping this issue out front,” McCrory said.
He’s referring to the efforts to reach a compromise with the Charlotte City Council before the election in 2016, which would have set things back to the way they were before the Council attempted to pass an overly broad city ordinance to dictate bathroom policy for area businesses and schools.
Leaked information revealed that his then-opponent, Roy Cooper and state Democrats convinced the Council to reject any sort of compromise, until after the election, hoping to use economic damage to the state as a campaign tool.
Efforts to reach compromise since the election have likewise been frustrated, with McCrory’s successor insistent that allowing men into the women’s bathroom is the only way to return dignity to the state.
Yeah, I know. I’m shaking my head over that one, too.
It has been a long four months since the 2016 election and the state of North Carolina is not yet feeling the full impact of allowing the first Republican governor in several decades to get away.
He is signaling, however, that he’s not just fading into the sunset.
Nor should he.
Pat McCrory made amazing strides to the positive for the state of North Carolina. He was the shot in the arm the state had needed for a very long time.
To hear he hasn’t just folded up his tent and called it quits on politics forever is a comfort to me.
We need more like him.