An open letter to N.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham.
Congratulations on winning another term leading the upper chamber of our fair state’s legislative branch. As you get down to your duties, I thought I’d reach out on behalf of one of Charlotte’s favorite sons, Gov. Pat McCrory.
He made his agenda clear in his State of the State speech Wednesday night, but there are a few points you need to hear that didn’t make the speech. Pat doesn’t know I’m writing you, and certainly didn’t put me up to this. (Hey, he has said the state has too many reporters, after all). Whatever. I don’t hold it against him.
In the thick of the teacher pay fight, you accused him of “staging media stunts and budget gimmicks.” He got so mad over the coal-ash appointments that he sued you and then-House Speaker Thom Tillis.
Hard feelings remain, I’m sure. But it’s time you moved past that.
As he heads into the last two years of his term, it’s time you let him be the middle-of-the-road Republican the state thought it was electing in 2012.
You guys in the legislature can run and win from your safely Republican seats. But he’s facing a much riskier statewide electorate – very possibly one skewed leftward by a Hillary Clinton presidential bandwagon.
You’ve gotten most of the big things you wanted, notably the massive tax reduction package of 2013. With your veto-proof majority, you’ve kicked so much sand in poor Pat’s face I sometimes forget you’re in the same party.
He clearly must come through you to get anything done. Some say you’re the most powerful man in Raleigh. You can afford to be a little magnanimous.
So, give ground on Medicaid expansion and let him customize the North Carolina-specific plan he’s been hinting about.
Go along with his $1 billion transportation bond. Roads could be that signature issue he still needs on his campaign resume. (His “Carolina Comeback” theme rings hollow when most states are also rebounding and President Obama’s doing his post-recession touchdown dance).
Also, bills on controversial social issues like abortion and gay marriage aren’t helping Pat any, as you know. The courts have spoken on gay marriage; magistrates who can’t uphold the law should get other jobs, not a religious exemption.
The man clearly needs room to accelerate. If he nudges toward the center lane, feel free to give him that stern raised-eyebrow look dads give mischievous kids. But hold your peace.
Won’t be easy, I know. But it beats butting heads with Gov. Roy Cooper come 2017, doesn’t it?