All eyes are on McCrory
The legislature has adjourned, their work praised and criticized from the right and the left. Now all eyes are on Governor Pat McCrory. On his desk are 38 bills awaiting action.
He can sign them into law, veto them or do nothing, in which case they automatically become law.
Some have far-reaching significance, like the last-minute changes to the election laws of our state, changes made in permitting landfills, changes to the system for disciplining judges, a bill that would gut the Environmental Management Commission and remove many of the members of the Coastal Resources Commission. Another would make sweeping regulatory changes. Still another requires drug testing for people applying for food stamps and work training.
To date, McCrory has signed into law all the bills passed by the legislature and the actions he takes now will further establish or tarnish his credentials as a leader. It took our governor some time to get his footing in his freshman year, but he came on strong in the closing days of the General Assembly. Former House Speaker Joe Mavretic’s admonitions must be in his mind: never make more enemies than you can deal with at a time.
McCrory’s conundrum is both political and practical. On the political side it goes without saying that women, teachers, state employees and Democrats are up in arms with the legislature and, to some degree with the governor because of what they perceive as a lack of strong leadership from him. Some think this coalition of mostly Democrats is ready to strike back, but so far they aren’t organized with a strong spokesperson.
Within his own party McCrory has to keep support from a real and widening schism between traditional mainline Republicans and hardline Tea Party conservatives. He must keep the GOP “on the ranch.”
Then there are the moderates. McCrory ran as a moderate and the final outcome showed large numbers of moderates and unaffiliated voters helped give him his big victory in 2012. They should be the ones McCrory worries most about. Those on the far left aren’tgoing to like much of anything he does and those on the far right likely won’t have anywhere else to go in the 2016 elections, so the governor’s biggest political challenge is holding the support of moderate and unaffiliated voters. Polls show they aren’t happy so far.
On the practical side here are the questions McCrory should be asking. Do these bills establish our “brand” in a positive way that will encourage jobs and improve our state?
If our citizens are truly customers of government, will these bills improve service for the majority of North Carolinians?
The governor will announce his decisions next week, promising to give these bills thorough review and consideration. His decisions will impact millions of lives. Pat McCrory’s ultimate concern should not be political but should instead focus on doing what is right for the most people and the state itself without regard to popularity polls, upcoming elections or partisan politics. That is the true mark of a leader. The best part of that course is you always know you did the right thing.
The great American philosopher Mark Twain said it best: “Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
Tom Campbell is former assistant North Carolina State Treasurer and is creator/host of NC SPIN, a weekly statewide television discussion of NC issues airing Sundays at 5 a.m. on WLOS-TV. Contact him at www.ncspin.com.