Why we’re not endorsing Pat McCrory for the first time in 25 years

The Observer editorial board

Attorney General Roy Cooper has the experience, intelligence and policy stances that North Carolina needs to regain its stature.
Attorney General Roy Cooper has the experience, intelligence and policy stances that North Carolina needs to regain its stature. WWW.MICZEKPHOTO.COM

The Charlotte Observer’s editorial board has endorsed Republican Pat McCrory in every one of his bids for office since 1991. That includes twice for City Council, seven times for mayor and twice for governor. That streak comes to an end today.

McCrory’s term as North Carolina governor is the ultimate illustration of the Peter Principle: that people are promoted based on their past performance and not the abilities needed for the new role and thus rise to the level of their incompetence. McCrory has certainly done that.

Fortunately, voters have a superior option in Democrat Roy Cooper. A Morehead Scholar at UNC, a former Senate majority leader and a four-term attorney general, Cooper has the experience, the intelligence and the policy stances needed to return the state to its stature as a progressive leader in the South.

That stature has been lost under McCrory. While the state’s and nation’s attention has rightfully been focused on HB2 since spring, McCrory’s lack of leadership and wrong-headed policies have been on display since his first year in Raleigh.

Here are four reasons we recommend a vote for Roy Cooper and against Pat McCrory:

1. HB2.

After the 2014 mid-term elections, we wrote an editorial suggesting to McCrory things he should do to win re-election in 2016. “Stay away from lightning-rod social issues. They’re a political loser in a purple state, and a distraction from those ‘very complex problems’ you hope to solve.”

Governor, meet lightning rod. McCrory rushed to sign House Bill 2 on March 23, hours after the House and Senate rammed it through. North Carolina’s reputation has been melting ever since. McCrory adamantly defends the discriminatory measure and dismisses the NCAA, the ACC, scores of business executives and others who have condemned the legislation. It was a hateful and self-defeating bill, and it will be McCrory’s legacy.

Cooper opposes HB2 and says he would work to repeal it.

2. McCrory’s other policies.

McCrory has signed enough bad legislation to fill a library, and his administration has enacted one misguided policy after another. He supported new restrictions on abortion after promising he wouldn’t. He signed what many experts have called the nation’s most restrictive voting laws. He has been soft on his former employer, Duke Energy, after a catastrophic coal ash spill. He has been tepid in raising teacher pay, while cutting teacher assistants and other education spending. He refused to accept billions of dollars from the federal government to provide health insurance to the poor.

Under McCrory, North Carolina was the only state to cut off long-term federal unemployment benefits, the first in the Southeast and maybe the nation to decline federal money to study streams and wetlands and the only one to cut WIC benefits during the federal government shutdown.

McCrory’s Department of Health and Human Services was a disaster under McCrory’s secretary, Aldona Wos. McCrory sat silently as the legislature tried to take over Charlotte’s airport. He has cut taxes for the wealthy and raised them on many in the middle class.

Cooper supports the other side of every one of these issues.

3. We need a check on the legislature.

McCrory has been spineless before Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speakers Thom Tillis and Tim Moore. Cooper would offer more resistance and, if Democrats pick up a handful of House seats, would use his veto to stop the legislature’s most egregious ideas.

4. Cooper’s integrity, education and experience.

McCrory had no state government experience and it has shown. Cooper was a leader in the legislature and then served 16 years as attorney general. He knows the state and its history, and understands its government from different perspectives. He would not have the learning curve McCrory continues to climb.

Cooper has a clear vision of what he wants to accomplish, built largely on investing in public education and creating a well-trained workforce that will feed a growing economy and strengthen the middle class.

McCrory had a notable career in public service. But he has climbed the ladder beyond his abilities. It is time for him to come home.