Cooper presses for 'new priorities' in gubernatorial bid
Posted October 12, 2015
Updated October 13, 2015
Rocky Mount, N.C. — Walking in to the strains of Sam & Dave's "Hold On, I'm Comin'," Attorney General Roy Cooper ended months of speculation Monday by announcing his candidacy for governor in 2016.
"It's time for a governor who believes that we should measure our state by the success of regular working folks," Cooper told hundreds of cheering supporters at Nash Community College in his hometown of Rocky Mount.
Citing the recent sales tax expansion and corporate tax cuts passed into law, stagnant wages and the loss of experienced teachers to other states, he said Republican Gov. Pat McCrory "has the wrong priorities for North Carolina."
"We need a new set of priorities," he said. "It's time for everyone, not just the select few, to experience the rewards of our improving economy."
Republicans immediately pounced on Cooper, saying his priorities aren't in sync with the rest of North Carolina.
"From higher taxes, to bigger government, to unchecked corruption, Roy Cooper represents the worst of the broken system and the broken policies of the past," said North Carolina GOP executive director, Dallas Woodhouse prior to Cooper's announcement. "Roy Cooper will take us back to the future."
The GOP noted that he raised taxes to increase state spending when he was in the General Assembly in the 1980s and 1990s and later refused to defend state laws in court as attorney general.
"We’ve already seen what the future would look like if Roy Cooper was governor," a GOP statement said. "We can’t let him take us backwards."
Durham lawyer Ken Spaulding, who previously announced his bid to be the Democratic nominee for governor, also criticized Cooper, calling him "the establishment's hand-picked career politician."
Cooper's three daughters preceded his announcement with anecdotes of his support for education and fighting for what you believe in and what's right.
He said he learned those values from his late parents – a farmer and a teacher – and has tried to uphold them during his four terms as attorney general, pursuing lenders, telemarketers and others for fraudulent practices.
But he said North Carolina is suffering under Republican leadership and needs to take a different tack – one that he could steer toward as governor.
"The crowd that's in charge in Raleigh is leading us down the wrong path," he said. "I know North Carolina can lead the South again. ... We can make it happen if we can get back to creating a North Carolina where everyone gets a chance to get ahead."
Cooper said that path is hurting working people and the state's education system.
"Wages are stagnant, the cost of college is skyrocketing, we are not recruiting enough high-paying jobs and our schools are starved for resources," Cooper said.