Raleigh, N.C. — Attorney General Roy Cooper has a new web video out slamming Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican-controlled General Assembly and pledging to reverse Republican gains in the legislature.
Cooper, a Democrat, has all-but-announced a run for governor in 2016, placing him on a political collision course with McCrory. The two are at odds over policy, with McCrory even hiring outside counsel to keep an eye on how well Cooper's office defends a new state elections law.
North Carolina's attorney general is a separately elected statewide office.In the video, Cooper laments the loss of progress in the state and offers a laundry list of what he sees as policy missteps by McCrory and legislative Republicans.
“What had taken decades to build is now being torn down right before our eyes. And for many of us, it’s personal. In just one year’s time, Gov. McCrory and the tea party Republicans in the legislature have gutted public education funding, blocked health care for working families and seniors in nursing homes, made it harder to register and vote and raised taxes on about 80 percent of us while giving a tax break to the top 1 percent. All the while, they’ve waged a culture war on women, minorities and just about anyone else who doesn't think like they do," Cooper says.
Although it's tempting to view the video as the first attack ad of the 2016 legislative campaign – Cooper's campaign committee, Cooper for N.C. paid for the ad – Morgan Jackson, a campaign adviser to Cooper, said it is more about bringing public pressure on the General Assembly.
"This is about getting everybody's voice heard," Jackson said. "He (Cooper) has made no bones about his frustration with a lot of the decisions that have been made over the past 12 to 16 months. This is what he can do to help build public pressure out there on the legislature and the governor to make better public policy decisions."
In particular, Jackson cited raising teacher pay and reconsidering the state's decision not to expand Medicaid eligibility as two areas where Cooper hoped to have an impact.
"We won’t engage in a non-productive political attack," said McCrory spokesman Ryan Tronovitch.
The North Carolina Republican Party declared the video a "kick-off" to Cooper's 2016 campaign.
"Neglecting his elected duties, Roy Cooper is actively campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime, politicizing the very same laws he has a responsibility to defend in court," Republican Party spokesperson Daniel Keylin said in a statement.