From Lisa Zerkle, a former Charlotte Observer community columnist, in response to a guest column from Rep. Ruth Samuelson on Friday:
N.C. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, crows about a Republican mandate in state politics. I say not so fast. A closer look at North Carolina election returns shows a more tempered result. In every population center, our state is blue, not red. We are not Mississippi.
In the race for governor, Pat McCrory won for two reasons. Gov. Bev Perdues last-minute decision not to seek reelection left a dearth of suitable Democratic candidates. Secondly, many Democratic and independent (unaffiliated) voters crossed their fingers and chose McCrory, hoping he would govern like the socially tolerant, light-rail favoring mayor of Charlotte he was. This does not suggest a mandate to go full-throttle tea party.
As for Congress, Republican gains in the House of Representatives can be explained by gerrymandered districts whose lines the GOP redrew, and the infusion of personal wealth into campaign coffers.
As a state House representative, Samuelson says North Carolina can now reclaim its status as a pro-business beacon. Perhaps.
Well see if the legislature will work on business and economic matters, or if it will spend vast amounts of time and energy inserting religious dogma into governance, as it did in its last session. After the amendment to our state Constitution that outlaws equal marriage for all of our citizens, national and social media had a heyday mocking: North Carolina: where you can marry your cousin, just not your gay cousin.
The same is true of the legislatures science-phobic decision to outlaw sea level rise. As comedian Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report put it, I think this is a brilliant solution. If your science gives you a result that you dont like, pass a law saying that the result is illegal. Problem solved.
A pro-business beacon might note that corporations will have a difficult time persuading employees to relocate to a state that is the butt of jokes in the national media. Creative, college-educated professionals do not want to live in a regressive backwater.
Republicans have free rein over what happens in our state for the next two years. Lets hope they will use this opportunity wisely and well, and that they remember they represent all of North Carolina. Red, blue, white, black, brown, gay and straight. If not, in the next election, the changing demographics of the electorate will return a very different result.
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