Editorial: Are pundits writing off Gov.-elect Roy Cooper too soon?

Posted December 14, 2016

A CBC Editorial: Wednesday, Dec.14, 2016; Editorial# 8095
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

To hear the pronouncements from the pundits, Gov.-elect Roy Cooper is on his way to a term of obscurity and irrelevance. A Democrat overshadowed by a veto-proof GOP dominated legislature, it’s as if it would hardly be worth Cooper’s while to take the oath of office.

Just hours after incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory conceded the election, here’s what these experts prognosticated:

“Electing Cooper, as a Democratic governor, would have almost no consequences on public policy. The governor will have a state address where he'll outline an agenda of things he'd like to try to get accomplished. None of that will happen, almost certainly.” -- John Aldrich, Duke University professor of political science.

“He’s not coming in with a mandate, which limits his ability to really flex his muscles.” -- Brandon Lenoir, political science professor at High Point University.

“If it comes down to the legislature versus the governor, just because of the numbers, the legislature is going to win.” -- David McLennan with Meredith College.

It’s risky to write a political obituary before the birth of an officeholder’s term.

Reports of the demise of Roy Cooper’s term as governor may be a bit premature.

Just as the 2016 election seemed like none we’d seen before, there’s a good chance that the upcoming session of the General Assembly may be one where the old rules and expectations don’t apply.

That’s because the current crop of legislators will be facing a federally court-ordered re-election in less than a year. That’s a fate the General Assembly’s GOP majority inflicted upon itself because of its unconstitutional gerrymandering scheme to insure an indomitable majority.

Nearly every issue will provide Cooper and the GOP leadership in the legislature an opportunity to highlight their differences. With an election just months away, the legislative session will likely take on a campaign atmosphere. Legislation will be opportunities to highlight differences and pitch them to the voters.

The session won’t be about votes inside the House or Senate chambers, but who most effectively appeals to the citizens outside the Legislative Building. It is those voters who will head to the polls next fall to pick their representatives in newly drawn and more competitive state House and Senate districts.

With vocal and visible leadership Cooper can make the special fall legislative elections a referendum on the General Assembly’s leadership. He’ll have opportunities to present clear contrasts to their past obsessions, including:

  • Denying health insurance to 400,000 North Carolina citizens and costing the state’s economy $3 billion a year.
  • Refusing to provide necessary support to our public schools and setting up private school vouchers without accountability for the use of taxpayer dollars.
  • Gerrymandering that a federal court labeled racist and laws that prevent people from voting.
  • Using partisan political advantage to fix election outcomes in favor of Republicans.
  • Focusing on divisive hot-button social issues that inflame raw emotions but do little to improve the health and livelihoods of North Carolinians.
  • Weakening reasonable regulatory protection of the environment and workers.

Perhaps in a bit of anticipation, the legislative leadership already insulated itself from one potentially explosive and divisive debate – over the state budget.

In past years, the General Assembly would be under the gun to pass a new budget – or a continuing resolution -- by June 30. There probably won’t be a contentious battle this year, thanks to a little-noticed provision added in the fine print of last year’s budget bill. The new law, on page 9, says the current budget simply continues until a new one is passed – no continuing resolution, no debate and no vote.

The upcoming legislative session may end up being less about specific bills passed than the two contrasting visions of North Carolina’s future held by our new governor and our old legislative leadership.

Roy Cooper may be holding more cards than the pundits think. It might not be a good bet to count him out just yet.


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  • Teddy Fowler Dec 14, 2016
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    Roy Cooper will just be Beverly Purdue Part 2.... his only tool will be to veto plenty and hope it holds up

  • Danny Basden Dec 14, 2016
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    It may be a bit premature to assume that the court-ordered election will hold up....

  • Jeff Freuler Dec 14, 2016
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    No I don't think so. He has a history in state government so they know him

  • Sean Chen Dec 14, 2016
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    In response to McCrory supposedly:
    Denying health insurance to 400,000 North Carolina citizens and costing the state’s economy $3 billion a year.

    COOPER was the one traveling out of state lobbying businesses and entities to boycott our state. Cooper actively worked with outside groups to economically hurt our good state.

    And NC rewarded him for it by handing him the governorship. HB2 was in response to an ILLEGAL ordinance passed by Charlotte on a bill pushed by a SEX OFFENDER for the very issue he was convicted for.

    The goal was to legalize his fetish and people were stupid enough to fall for it. There are transgendered people in NC and they've not struggled in our society until it was brought into the spotlight putting them front and center. Perhaps the liberals are patting themselves on the back for doing so… but were they thinking of pushing their agenda, or helping and working with our transgendered population?

  • Sean Chen Dec 14, 2016
    user avatar

    The bias toward Cooper is amazing with WRAL from the election and after…

    In response to McCrory supposedly:
    Denying health insurance to 400,000 North Carolina citizens and costing the state’s economy $3 billion a year.

    1. That $$$ is NOT free. Once we as a state accept it, we are then on the hook to cover everyone from then on as the subsidies are withdrawn in tiers.

    It works like a cell phone plan that offers the first year free, 25% the next year, and in 4 years you end up paying 100% with NO WAY OUT of the contract

    It would be fiscally irresponsible to have gone that route and would have brought us back to the Perdue days running in the RED.

    Oh wait… Cooper is just WAITING to spend the surplus McCrory has built and bring us back into the RED. Tax and spend, right? If you have it, ya gotta spend it!