Gov. Pat McCrory toasted the North Carolina economy as well as the military’s most advanced fighter plane during an appearance in Charlotte Monday.
But even in the main hangar of the Charlotte Aviation Museum, the governor couldn’t escape questions about House Bill 2.
The Republican governor, joined by U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, spoke at the display of a cockpit simulator for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II, a strike-fighter with many suppliers in the state.
McCrory touted the economy. Site Selection magazine recently gave the state its 2015 Prosperity Cup for ranking first in the nation for business competitiveness.
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Between the first quarter of 2013 and the third quarter of 2015, no state’s economic output grew as fast as North Carolina’s 13.4 percent rate.
“I think the numbers are going to continue to be very strong because this is the greatest state in which to do business,” McCrory told reporters later.
McCrory was asked if he was afraid HB2 would hurt the state’s competitiveness. At least one company, PayPal, backed out of coming to the state because of the law that blocked Charlotte’s extension of its anti-discrimination ordinance.
“We have over 200,000 businesses in North Carolina,” McCrory said. “Just look at the numbers. Look at the true numbers. How many jobs we’re getting versus how many jobs we’ve actually lost. Why don’t we celebrate something for a change? I encourage the media to do the same thing, because a lot of people are benefiting from this incredible job growth.”
The governor repeated his intention to urge lawmakers to amend the law, which now prohibits people from taking their anti-discrimination claims to state court. He said he would let the General Assembly decide whether to call for a statewide referendum on HB2 this fall.
McCrory was asked what he would tell a transgender man such as the one profiled in Sunday’s Observer. Liam Johns, 27, was born female but now sports a mustache and beard and dresses like a man.
“I don’t read your newspaper as much as I used to,” McCrory said, moving on to another question.
Will Doran of the (Raleigh) News & Observer contributed.