RALEIGH Almost at the moment North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory stepped to the podium to deliver his inaugural address Saturday, the clouds broke, and a misty, overcast morning gave way to blue skies.
Now that, former House Speaker Joe Mavretic said later, is an omen.
An omen or simply good fortune, the weather cooperated as McCrory formally kicked off his new administration before about 2,500 people who gathered on closed streets just east of the old Capitol. It was a setting McCrory wrapped in symbolism.
Were at the intersection of government and Main Street, he said. As I look out toward Main Street with government at our back, I see unlimited opportunity. Government should not be a barricade or an obstacle to progress.
For McCrory, a Republican and former Charlotte mayor, Saturday was something of an encore. He took the same oath, following the same invocation by the Rev. David Chadwick of Charlotte, at a separate swearing-in the week before.
But Saturday he shared a stage with three predecessors former Govs. Jim Martin, a Republican, and Democrats Mike Easley and Bev Perdue. New Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and other members of the Council of State also took their oaths.
McCrory led the crowd in a standing ovation for Perdue, a one-time rival who defeated him in 2008.
Much of his speech echoed campaign promises. Developing a long-term strategy for transportation and infrastructure. Finding more manufacturing jobs. Reducing government regulation. Adopting a culture of customer service.
Government cannot solve all these problems alone, he said, because there is no new money falling out of the sky. Like struggling families across our state, government has to live within its means.
We should not ask for more money from you, because the result is more pain to families and small businesses on Main Street.
McCrory also made it personal, invoking his late parents and especially his father, Rollin Mac McCrory.
My dad taught me that each one of us have been given the talent and ability within ourselves, the governor said, appearing to choke up at one point. Now its each of our responsibilities to fulfill our potential.
McCrory pledged that members of his administration will work together to find efficiencies.
One thing I learned as mayor of Charlotte, he said, (was) we emphasized teamwork and we got things done.
Mavretic, a former Democrat now an independent, said he expects McCrory to do just that.
He has the capacity to bring people together, Mavretic said. When he talks about team-building, he knows he can do it because he did it in Charlotte. And he did it for a long time.
Former state Attorney General Rufus Edmisten, a Democrat, said he voted for McCrory with the expectation hed govern as a centrist. I do not want us to become a right-wing, crazy state, Edmisten said at Friday nights inaugural gala.
Democrats weigh in
Saturdays largely Republican crowd was sprinkled with Democratic lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.
Im impressed with the way hes hit the ground running, said Sen. Dan Blue, a former House speaker from Raleigh. The question ultimately (from) a policy standpoint is where he comes down. I take him at his word (that) he wants to govern as a centrist.
Some Democrats have criticized some McCrory appointments, particularly that of Art Pope as deputy budget director. Pope, a Raleigh businessman, is a major financial backer of conservative candidates and causes. Hes also a former legislator with state budget experience.
I think Art Pope is going to bring a perspective thats going to be healthy, Easley told a reporter. I wish people would quit cracking on him and wait to see what he does.
After the speech, McCrory and his wife led an inaugural parade, waving to onlookers from the backseat of a red 1957 Chevy convertible. The car passed the reviewing stand and pulled onto the Capitol grounds. The McCrorys got out, kissed, and the governor walked to the reviewing stand.
On stage earlier with the McCrorys and North Carolinas top officials were a handful of Charlotteans. Among them: McCrorys brother Phil, advisers John Lassiter and Ed McMahan, Chadwick and AME Zion Bishop George Battle, who gave the benediction.
In the audience were many hometown friends, including Charlotte attorney Jeff Brown, retired banker Ed Driggs and golfing partner and real estate broker Jim Rogers.
Hes excited, pumped up and (ready) to get his agenda in positive motion, Rogers said.
Charlotte Chamber President Bob Morgan brought his family to the event. Its good for North Carolina, he said, and an exciting day for Charlotte.
After the parade, the new governor hosted an open house in the executive mansion. He was scheduled to attend another ball Saturday night, this one sponsored by a new group called the Foundation for North Carolina.
Spokesman Dan Spuller said 3,000 people were expected at the event, where the highest ticket price went for $1,000. He said the foundation will advocate for McCrorys positions on policy issues.