Political Marketability Favors the 2016 Reelection of North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory He has a record, a plan, money, likeability, and urban appeal December 2, 2015 Vol. VIII, No. 18 10:13 pm What’s the “politically marketable” reason to change our governor? On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory
Political Marketability Favors the 2016 Reelection of North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory
He has a record, a plan, money, likeability, and urban appeal
December 2, 2015 Vol. VIII, No. 18 10:13 pm
What’s the “politically marketable” reason to change our governor?
On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory announced his decision to run for a second term. The presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee is Attorney General Roy Cooper. Finding a politically marketable argument for denying Republican McCrory a second term is the greatest challenge facing Democrat Cooper.
Granted, Cooper has the usual litany of liberal complaints against McCrory; complaints well aired by the Moral Mondays protestors. However, the Moral Mondays outrage was met with a near universal shrug and a “pffft” by North Carolinians.
The most significant political value of the Moral Mondays movement is that it galvanized Republicans and Independent conservatives behind McCrory and the GOP leadership in the General Assembly.
The race for governor of North Carolina will not be about Roy Cooper and the Democratic agenda, it will be a referendum on Pat McCrory’s first term. The fact is, the state is well into recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression. And, economic recovery has provided McCrory the means to make many politically marketable improvements.
McCrory’s accomplishments to date are among the five influential factors that in my judgement give him a political marketing advantage at the starting gate of the 2016 race for governor. The five are: 1. Fundraising potential; 2. Record of accomplishment; 3. Visionary plan; 4. Personal likability; 5. Urban crossover appeal.
Money defaults to power. In North Carolina, Republicans have the lion’s share of the state’s political power. They have the Governor (Executive), super majorities in the state Senate and House (Legislative), and majorities on the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals (Judicial).
Republicans have also taken over hundreds of state boards and commissions, controlling the direction of everything from Acupuncture, Agriculture, Alcohol and Auctioneers to Banking, Transportation, Tobacco, Teachers, Universities, Utilities, Veterinary, Wildlife and the Zoo.
The power and influence of state government Republicans is greatly enhanced by their ten-member advantage in the state’s 13-member delegation to the U.S. House, as well as the two Republican U.S. Senators. All are members of Republican majorities in the U.S. Congress.
Granted, Roy Cooper’s mid-year report to the State Board of Elections shows him with $3.4 million in receipts to only $2.2 for McCrory. But, McCrory was battling the legislature and the news media the first six months of the year. He got a late start filling the till.
Furthermore, a Republican incumbent governor in a Southern state with an improving economy is in a far greater position to parlay his power and influence into a financial advantage than a Democratic challenger.
The loss of standing and competitiveness of the Democratic Party during President Obama’s administration is almost unbelievable. As Adam Edelen, Democratic state auditor of Kentucky who lost reelection last month told the New York Times, “In terms of governors, legislators and constitutional officers, the bench has been eviscerated during his [Obama’s] tenure. It will have very long-term consequences."
Those consequences will be felt by Democrats in North Carolina, like Roy Cooper, as they struggle to maintain a competitive campaign war chest for their races in 2016.
Record of Accomplishment
After all was said and done during the 2015 budget battles between Governor McCrory and the Republican leaders in the General Assembly; after all of the inane huffing and puffing about McCrory being the “irrelevant,” “Mayor of North Carolina,” McCrory got most of what he wanted. More than enough marketable line items to make his case for a second term.
First and foremost, McCrory’s leadership on the budget endeared him to most Republicans and Independents who lean Republican. Second, and equally important, McCrory’s leadership on the budget gives him plenty of talking points for a strong appeal to undecided Independent voters.
Here are a couple of politically marketable highlights:
- Reduced unemployment; created jobs
- Reduced the personal income tax below most of our neighboring states
- Reduced the corporate income tax rate, on track to be the lowest in the U.S.
- Paid off NC’s $2.5 billion unemployment insurance debt to Federal Government
- Increased the natural disaster reserve fund to over $1 billion
- Initiated transformative changes in use of digital technology in state government
- Launched a $2 billion bond campaign targeting repairs, renovation and expansions for community colleges and universities, along with state parks
- Education items include pay raises for teachers and keeping teacher assistants
It is my judgement that the action on the state budget this year by Governor McCrory and the General Assembly was politically savvy, allowing Republicans to break many of the arrows in the Democratic Party’s quiver that otherwise would have been used against them in 2016.
Important Note: Anything politically marketable that was not taken care of in the budget this year will be taken care of during the 2016 Short Session.
Take a look at Governor McCrory’s 25-year transportation infrastructure plan, Mapping Our Future, and you can see the skill he brings to the development of politically marketable state government initiatives. Every division of his administration either has been or will be the subject of long-range planning and reorganization.
In his February 4, 2015 State of the State speech, McCrory outlined his administration’s commitment to the future in five areas:
- Jobs/Economy: “Ensuring everyone who wants a job can find a job.”
- Education: “Ensuring every child/adult obtains skills to be productive citizen.”
- Connectivity: Linking small towns/commerce centers with highways and internet
- Health/Safety: “Improving quality of life and public safety for NC’s families.”
- Government: “Efficiencies in our budget and improving government services.”
On Wednesday, December 2, 2015, McCrory formally kicked off his campaign with a speech in Kernersville at a printing company. Once again, he touted his “five point plan.”
The redundancy and simplicity of McCrory’s “five point plan” for the future is what gives it political value. Most politicians complicate their vision for the future with too much explanation. McCrory has the skillset to transform his visionary passion into a simple list of steps that help him make the case to the average voter that his goals can be achieved. That’s political marketability.
Governor McCrory announced his decision to run for a second term by way of a moving video posted on social media. The video, seeking to show empathy with those struggling to make ends meet, opens with McCrory recounting, “Long before I was elected governor, one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life was to come home after my job was eliminated and tell Ann I didn't have a job anymore.”
The video also seeks to give voters hope for a brighter tomorrow based on accomplishments to date and plans for the future. It ends with an image of McCrory hugging a child as he says, “I’m running for governor because our comeback story is not over.”
Pat McCrory is as good a retail politician as there is in America. He looks you right in the eye when he talks. His smile is genuine and welcoming. His handshake is firm and confident. His ability to make everyone from all walks of life feel like they have the governor’s ear; that he really cares about what they care about, is one of his greatest strengths.
But his greatest strength is that he really does care. His ability to empathize with those who have walked a more difficult path to their dreams comes from the fact that he has walked that path.
That’s political marketability at its best.
Urban Crossover Appeal
One of the biggest mistakes McCrory’s critics have made is to devalue his 14 years as Mayor of Charlotte. Dealing with political and public policy enemies in a city that is larger than Detroit, Seattle, Denver or Boston prepares you well for political and public policy enemies in Raleigh. Experience in navigating the petty jealousies, the greedy opportunists, the cheats, the egos, the territorial bureaucrats … for seven terms in a county that is larger than the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Alaska, Vermont or Wyoming … prepares you well for the petty jealousies, the greedy opportunists, the cheats, the egos, and the territorial bureaucrats in Raleigh.
Granted, the budget is far more complicated at the state level than the city and county levels. And it has taken McCrory two cycles to gain budgetary competence. However, leadership comes from experience in dealing with the human side of politics. And that is where devaluing McCrory’s 14 years as Mayor of Charlotte is a mistake.
Politically, it is also important to respect the value of McCrory’s experience as Mayor of Charlotte for his ability to appeal to urban voters. McCrory understands city issues. He knows that urban quality of life depends on government investment in streets and public transportation; centers for the performing arts and sports arenas; city parks and recreation. Public safety.
North Carolina is fast becoming an urban dominant swing state where metropolitan voters are more moderate than conservative, more pro-government than antigovernment, more socially diverse and tolerant.
Seven terms as Mayor of the City of Charlotte has seasoned Pat McCrory well to lead an urban dominant swing state. He understands urban voters. He is fluent in their language. He has an opportunity unique as a Republican to successfully market his message to the normally Democratic-leaning undecided voters in the fast-growing urban areas of North Carolina.
The race for governor of North Carolina is a referendum on Pat McCrory’s first term. Thanks to an improving economy, McCrory is in a position to make it very difficult for Roy Cooper to find a politically marketable argument for denying him a second term.
If McCrory does seize the upper hand in fundraising, as I expect he will, he will be able to sell his accomplishments and vision for the future and gain an early lead. At that point, all he has to do is pour on the coal and keep the train on the tracks until Election Day, November 2016.
His detractors will be using every available resource to derail McCrory’s campaign train with allegations of legally questionable actions by the governor, his team and contributors. In today’s political environment, all candidates have to become adept at fending off accusations of improprieties throughout the campaign.
Fortunately for McCrory, a 50-page complaint with 400 pages of exhibits filed in January with the State Ethics Commission by the liberal organization Progress N.C. Action was dismissed in November after no probable cause was found that the governor had violated state laws.
If similar allegations against McCrory meet with the same fate, then his fundraising potential, his record of accomplishment, his visionary plan, personal likability and urban crossover appeal will give him a decisive political marketability advantage that virtually assures him a second term as Governor of North Carolina.
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