Pope, public opinion could help McCrory with legislature
Posted January 12, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — State Republican leaders call the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory a historic opportunity to move their agenda.
McCrory's inauguration marks the first time since Reconstruction that Republicans control North Carolina's General Assembly and the executive branch.
"Our philosophy of where to proceed I think is pretty consistent," the governor said recently.
"I think that there will be, in many respects, a philosophical meeting of the minds," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said.
That doesn't necessarily mean smooth sailing, however. Single-party rule hasn't always been peaceful or cooperative through the years.
Still, House Speaker Thom Tillis said he thinks Republican lawmaker and McCrory will be able to work out any differences.
"I think, for the most part, it's like family arguments, you know. They end peacefully," Tillis said. "Will we have differences? Of course, we will."
McCrory will be at a disadvantage whenever those differences crop up, according to David McLennan, a political science professor at William Peace University in Raleigh.
Republican super-majorities in the House and Senate can easily override any potential veto.
"The House and the Senate, on the surface, appear to have all the numbers they need to have to get through all of their legislative agenda," McLennan said. "Then, the governor will be put in an awkward position if he doesn't like whatever bill hits his desk."
McCrory has positioned himself as more moderate than lawmakers, especially on controversial issues like requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.
Yet, McLennan said, the governor can choose other ways to influence lawmakers, he said, noting he has some powerful options, such as his budget chief, longtime Republican donor Art Pope.
"I think Art Pope is going to be the kind of power broker in the executive mansion to try to move the House and Senate for the governor. He is working for the governor, not House or the Senate," he said.
McCrory also has the advantage of public opinion because his poll numbers are much better than the legislature's, McLennan said.
"He's got some honeymoon time left," he said. "He's in his first few weeks, and the General Assembly doesn't convene again until (Jan. 30), so he's got some time to build up goodwill."