McCrory, Cooper on attack in first debate

Posted June 24, 2016

— Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper gave a glimpse Friday of the charges and counter-charges North Carolina residents can expect to hear over the next four-plus months as the men battle to win the gubernatorial race in the November election.

In a debate hosted by the North Carolina Bar Association as part of its annual meeting, the two candidates addressed questions on teacher pay, taxes and House Bill 2, among others.

While McCrory talked up his "Carolina comeback" and the decline in unemployment statewide and new investments in infrastructure, Cooper quickly went on the attack, accusing the governor of hurting the state.

"I think Gov. McCrory has failed us," Cooper said. "He has put his extreme social, partisan agenda ahead of jobs and schools, and we have all paid the price."

With regard to the controversial House Bill 2, he said McCrory has blamed the Obama administration, the media and the performers and businesses who have balked at the law, which requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond to their birth genders and excludes gay and transgender people from state discrimination protections, for the nationwide criticism North Carolina has received instead of trying to repeal the law.

"I have no interest in government being the bathroom or PC police," McCrory said, adding that private businesses should decide what's best for themselves but that schools need to have bathrooms segregated by gender.

The candidates attacked each other's records on education spending and taxes, as the respective campaigns issued a flurry of "fact check" emails to reporters.

"When he was in the state Senate, he increased the sales tax on everything," McCrory said. "He increased the corporate tax on every business. He increased the income tax on every wage-earner in North Carolina. He increased the gas tax on every one of you who fill up your tank. And at the same time, he doubled state spending."

Cooper said the General Assembly cut taxes for working-class families when he was a lawmaker, and he criticized McCrory's support of corporate tax cuts and increased sales taxes in recent years as benefiting the wealthy at the expense of others.

"What we need is a tax policy that's fair to the middle class, that's fair to working people," he said. "Yes, they've cut taxes, a lot of money ... but the benefit of that has been to those with the upper incomes and the corporations."

The tax cuts have hurt state spending on education, Cooper said, noting that teacher morale is low because the state is asking more of them without giving them any support.

McCrory noted he has pushed to raise the salaries of starting teachers over the past two years to bring more qualified people into the teaching profession and has backed legislative efforts to increase pay for veteran teachers as well.

"There's only one person up here who actually has a North Carolina teaching degree, and that's this person," he said, pointing at himself. "I've actually taught."

He added that his efforts to secure passage of the Connect NC bond initiative in March has resulted in investments in updated labs and other buildings on university and community college campuses statewide.

"This governor is preparing for the future," McCrory said. "Now is not the time to take the state back to the good-ol'-boy system, raising taxes, having inefficient government, high unemployment and no teacher pay raises."

"The governor's idea of leadership is to take credit for every success and then to point a finger of blame for every failure," Cooper said. "We need leaders who can work to understand the challenges that we face and try to tackle them instead of pretending that they don't exist. We need leaders who will lift all of us up and not just the select few."


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  • Xander Bogaerts Jun 25, 2016
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    McCrory and the NCGOP, with their brainchild HB2, will not get my votes.

    HB2 is so dumb, so stupid, so discriminatory, so hateful- and everyone knows it. Millions of dollars lost to NC, hundreds of jobs lost- and the damage continues.

    And NCGOP does nothing. McCrory still defends it! sickening.

  • Carl Keehn Jun 25, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Except that 3.5 years ago the Democrats weren't in charge. In 2010, both the House and Senate became Republican majorities. As you know, legislation and the state budget are ALL done by the Legislature, not the Governor.

  • Steve Moore Jun 24, 2016
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    If you liked Hunt, Easley and Purdue..........you will love Roy Cooper......just another good old boy career Democrat political hack.

  • Jeff Herring Jun 24, 2016
    user avatar

    Despite self-congratulatory banter and blustering from the GOP about economic factors that they say they have improved, let;s look at what they have actually done. They have killed the movie industry, the solar industry, now the wind energy, while mouthing nonsense about jobs. yes, they have a job program, a job killing program. They have cut taxes for the rich, while underfunding schools, hospitals and highways, they have done nothing for which they should be proud or that has benefited the people as opposed to wealthy corporate donors.

  • Katie Miller Jun 24, 2016
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    What each side fails to realize is that neither side is actually out to make the state better. Each has a political agenda to pad their pockets and keep them in office.

    So to think that either option will have a huge impact is ridiculous. They will make a small change that will make everyone love or hate them, while making 100's of decisions that go unnoticed and help the interest groups who push their agenda

  • Joseph Shepard Jun 24, 2016
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    The fact that Cooper---the ELECTED Attorney General who is sworn to defend the state and its laws has already said repeatedly he would not defend the HB2 bill. How does he get to pick and choose which laws he will and will not defend?? Or has he been drinking the Obama koolaid and is thinking that if Obama can do it, so can he???

  • Shandy Scott Jun 24, 2016
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    A true no brainer. The FACTS: three and a half years ago with Democrats responsible, we had a 2.5 billion dollar deficit. At the time it was the countries fifth largest. Our employment rate was 9.3% and ranked us a laughing stock 47th. Our overall tax burden rated us the 20th highest in the country according to the Tax Foundations web site. According to the Tax Foundation’s web site our business tax climate index was ranked 44th. Our teachers were paid at a rate of the 47th highest. We owed the federal Government 2.5 billion in unemployment benefits. Our state GDP was ranked 44th. Today we have paid off the 2.5 billion, our tax burden has fallen to 34th highest, our unemployment has dropped to 5.1% which ranks us 31st. The business tax climate index is now 15th. Our teachers pay is ranked 41st in the country. Our state GDP rank is now the ninth highest. We now have a 450 million dollar surplus.

  • Cameron Horn Jun 24, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Wrong go look at the numbers
    2015 NC was in the top 10 for Job Growth
    North Carolina has had the country's fastest-growing economy since 2013
    Yea film industry wasn’t getting any more free money from the NC
    Too bad there isn’t a truth media outlet for the local politics

  • Jeff Herring Jun 24, 2016
    user avatar

    McCrory does not deserve to be reelected. The GOP has killed the movie industry, the solar industry, now the wind energy, while mouthing nonsense about jobs. yes, they have a job program, a job killing program. Also they have a hate program, restricting voting, aiding decrimination against gays, micromanaging county politics in democratic areas. gerrymandering the right to vote away. They denied 500,000 poor people medicaid coverage, which will also prevent job creation. Enough is enough.