North Carolina’s outgoing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday that he blames political pressure – especially from liberal groups – for thwarting a deal to repeal the law known as “the bathroom bill.”
On the eve of his last day in office, McCrory discussed a wide range of topics, including the law, referred to as House Bill 2. The law is best known for requiring transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates in many public buildings. McCrory called the General Assembly into special session earlier this month to consider repealing the law, but a deal fell apart.
“There is so much political pressure – primarily from the left – not to get an agreement,” he said in a phone interview.
“There are a lot of people who like this conflict to be ongoing,” he added. “They’re raising money off of it. I was hoping for the best but not surprised that it broke down.”
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Both McCrory and his successor, Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper, had touted a deal to kill the state law in exchange for Charlotte doing away with a local antidiscrimination ordinance. But Democrats accused Republicans of going back on their promise by adding a proposed moratorium on similar ordinances, while the GOP accused Democrats of walking away from a compromise.
McCrory said he unsuccessfully tried three times in the past year to broker similar deals. He said he believes the issue will ultimately be decided in court.
“My main message on this is frankly, the Justice Department under the Trump administration and the U.S. Supreme Court are really going to be the deciding factors for the nation, not just North Carolina, on what the definition of gender will be,” he said.
The state law also excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from statewide antidiscrimination protections.
McCrory, who met with President-elect Donald Trump earlier this month, said he doesn’t know what his next endeavor would be.
“I’m going to have to do some strong reflection and make a determination with my wife where my next journey will take me – whether it’s in the private sector, working with the Trump administration if that opportunity arises, or reconsidering politics, maybe even four years down the road. I just don’t know,” he said.
McCrory lost to Cooper by about 10,000 votes after a closely contested governor’s race. He conceded earlier this month following a debate about the counting of votes and a partial recount in heavily Democratic Durham County.
The outgoing governor said he had a cordial meeting with Cooper on Thursday and showed him around the governor’s mansion. But McCrory also complained that his administration had to work through the holidays to prepare for a handover because of Cooper’s decision to be sworn in minutes after midnight on Jan. 1.
McCrory hopes he’s remembered for his role in the state’s drop in unemployment, tax code revisions that reduced income tax and increasing the state’s disaster fund. He said that despite negative publicity over HB2, the state still has “a pipeline full of jobs” that he expects to be announced in the coming months.
“We have left the state in extremely good financial shape,” he said.