Raleigh, N.C. — Social conservatives are using an ad first deployed during a transgender bathroom fight in Houston to criticize North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper over his handling of House Bill 2.
Cooper, a Democrat, is running to unseat Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
The North Carolina Values Coalition, one of a number of conservative nonprofits that have backed House Bill 2, rolled out the ad online Wednesday. It's unclear whether the ad will air on broadcast or cable television, but a spokesman for the group said its leaders would hold a news conference to talk about the spot later this week.
"Roy Cooper's bathroom plan. What does it mean to you?" intones a female announcer, who goes on to warn that it would allow men to enter women's bathrooms and locker rooms. "Even registered sex offenders could follow women and young girls into the bathroom or locker room, and no one could stop them."
It then urges viewers to "prevent danger" and "say no to Roy Cooper and his bathroom plan."
The video in the ad, and much of the wording, has been used on at least two other occasions. It helped defeat a transgender nondiscrimination ordinance in Houston and was later reused for an ad campaign critical of Target when the retail giant announced that transgender customers could use the bathroom of their choice in its stores.
This appears to be the first time it has been used against a specific candidate for office.
North Carolina lawmakers passed House Bill 2 in March in response to an ordinance put in place by the Charlotte City Council. That ordinance would have required businesses and organizations offering public accommodations to allow transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their choice. House Bill 2 overturned that measure, but went on to create a state nondiscrimination law that excludes LGBT individuals.
Cooper has refused to defend the measure in state court, saying it is unconstitutional.
"HB2 is about discriminating against North Carolinians for Pat McCrory's political gain, and this shameful, exploitative ad proves it," said Ford Porter, a spokesman for the Cooper campaign. "It's time for Gov. McCrory to put his partisan social agenda aside, condemn this disgraceful ad and work to repeal HB2."
While some legislative Republicans in urban districts have called for the law's repeal, McCrory has been a staunch defender of the measure.
"We believe people need to understand that, by not defending HB2 and campaigning against HB2, Roy Cooper has laid out his bathroom plan to allow grown men into bathrooms, showers and locker rooms with young girls. That goes too far," said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the N.C. Values Coalition.