Democrats, Republicans alike have their own ideas for McCrory's speech

kpoe@newsobserver.comFebruary 16, 2013 

  • How to watch

    All of the Triangle’s television stations plan to carry Gov. Pat McCrory’s state of the state speech live at 7 p.m. Monday. Most will also stream it live online. The stations will also carry the Democratic response. News 14 will have a special segment beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Gov. Pat McCrory will give his first State of the State address on Monday. As the first Republican governor elected in more than 20 years, Republicans and Democrats alike have their own ideas about how he should set his first agenda for North Carolina.

With his party controlling the lawmaking for the first time since the 1800s, it’s an agenda that has a good chance of becoming reality. When Wilmington resident Michael Wooten, 60, voted for McCrory in November, it was the first time he voted for a Republican candidate for governor in his life, he said. And it had little to do with McCrory’s politics: Former Gov. Perdue’s administration saw too much political head-butting, Wooten said.

“I have spent my entire life looking at this from the center to the left of center, and I’m just tired of the political gridlock,” Wooten said. “If McCrory can break this, then that’ll be fine. But if he doesn’t, or if he starts pushing the radical right agenda, then he’s going to have to go, and that’s just how I feel about it.”

Wooten said what he would like to see most is McCrory addressing the issues with more than just platitudes but specific plans.

Nearly everyone interviewed in spot checks on Saturday expressed concern for job creation in North Carolina, where the statewide unemployment rate hangs at 9.2 percent.

Bill Edwards, 62, owns North Raleigh Guns, and said he voted for McCrory as a small business owner before he considered gun politics. He’s been operating his business for nearly two years, and as he’s begun expanding, he says he’s faced state regulations that have made it difficult.

Edwards has opened two locations in two years and is working to open his first shooting range, Triangle Shooting Academy, but said he has been frustrated dealing with parking and signage regulations.

“We’re going to hire 50 to 60 employees, and I’m not asking for anything from the city or the state; I’m just asking for them not to put too many roadblocks in my way,” Edwards said. “We’ve got to be small-business friendly: The regulations that they impose on us need to be relaxed a little bit so we can expand.”

Raleigh resident Leon Sanderson, 73, said he hopes McCrory will address making North Carolina a competitive business environment, especially compared with surrounding states.

Debate on jobs has led to debate on higher education — McCrory grabbed statewide attention in January after he said on a radio program that he doesn’t want the state to subsidize liberal arts courses like gender studies when they won’t result in graduates getting jobs.

Bob Hulbert, an assistant district attorney in Snow Hill, said he hopes to see McCrory explain the details of exactly what he’s planning to do to higher education.

“I hope he gives a good explanation of exactly what he meant in those remarks, because if he says ‘We’re going to reform the funding so that we cut down liberal arts programs,’ that’s bad,” Hulbert said, adding that he studied history at Wake Forest University. “I can understand that you are always going to have some courses that aren’t going to get you a job, but the good outweighs the bad.”

Chris Frey, an environmental engineering professor at N.C. State University, echoed Hulbert’s comments.

“I teach a lot of North Carolina residents who go out and get jobs. But they’re not just robots: They’re trained to go out and think,” Frey said. “I don’t have much hope for what (McCrory) is going to say, but what I would hope he would address is his public statements on education, which are not well founded – I’m not sure he understands the importance of higher education.”

Poe: 919-836-4918

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