McCrory will face challenges

N.C.’s newly elected governor will lead the state into a new political era amid many challenges.

November 6, 2012 

In terms of hard work and energy, Pat McCrory, the 56-year-old former Charlotte mayor, earned the job that he won in convincing fashion in the voting that ended last evening. Following his defeat at the hands of Gov. Beverly Perdue four years ago, McCrory crisscrossed the state, made hundreds of appearances, raised millions of dollars and worked at getting the support of a cross-section of North Carolinians to become governor.

Democrat Walter Dalton, 63, a veteran legislator and the current lieutenant governor, had a tough row to hoe in this campaign, but he worked hard and devoted himself to his cause after Perdue declined to seek re-election. Dalton, an attorney from Rutherford County, has been a capable lawmaker and leader. But the hill was just too steep.

McCrory now faces the challenge of governing not just a big, bustling, business-oriented city, but a state with fading rural roots, medium-sized struggling cities and towns, hamlets and crossroads communities. (And of course, metropolitan areas such as Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Durham and Raleigh.)

Doubtless he’ll be quick to recognize that the job of governor is an education that never ends. His borders of responsibility just exploded, and even with a presumably agreeable General Assembly run by fellow Republicans, there will be bumps in the road.

Jobs strategy

McCrory did not make many specific promises in this campaign, and thus it’s hard to predict what his priorities will be. It’s clear he’ll emphasize, as GOP leaders in the legislature have, lessening regulation of business and cutting business and personal income taxes.

The objective is to stimulate the creation of jobs, and here’s hoping the Republican approach is successful. McCrory will quickly be reminded, however, that revenue is needed to pay for the day-to-day operations of state government, most of which are service-oriented and nonpartisan.

First off, he’ll be looking for cabinet members to fill some important posts in heading agencies that serve the people of North Carolina directly. These are political appointments, and naturally, McCrory will look for Republicans to fill them. Fair enough. But he must set a high professional standard for these appointees.

And though his party leaders in the legislature have provided him with hundreds of additional patronage jobs, times are hard. No doubt many of these positions can wait until the state’s fiscal picture brightens. It’s true Republicans were long denied places in patronage, and perhaps can’t be blamed for thinking, “It’s our turn.” But let’s hope the governor-elect moves cautiously.

GOP in the saddle

The one-party control of the General Assembly and the governorship will be interesting. It’s true that Democrats were in that position for most of the 20th century, so it’s not as if this is particularly shocking or unique. But GOP leaders in the legislature have stumbled at times, in part due to inexperience and also because of philosophical difference in their own party.

Will Republican lawmakers, with an ally as governor, now bring forth a series of favored measures such as the voter ID bill vetoed by Perdue? Will there be a further push for vouchers for people to use public money to send their children to private schools? Issues of this sort tend to be highly divisive. If they become central to the GOP agenda it will not make it easier for McCrory to do the governor’s job of trying to bring the state together.

It’s in McCrory’s interest to try to avoid that division. Clearly, he brought people together to support his bid for the state’s highest elected office, and he says he intends to be inclusive. Now, he must reach out to 9 million constituents to show he will serve them all.

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