McCrory's praise for former Gov. Hunt will shock some conservatives

January 15, 2014 

The Holshouser Legislators Retreat sponsored by the Hunt Institute tends to be a fairly civil gathering anyway, but Gov. Pat McCrory turned it into sort of a love fest earlier this week.

For fire-breathing right-wing Republicans running the General Assembly? No. For tea partyers in the Republican base who rain on President Obama 24/7? No.

For ... Jim Hunt! That’s right. McCrory took a few minutes to praise the royal ruler of Rock Ridge, and not just a little bit, either.

McCrory’s said to be pondering pay raises for public school teachers, who’ve been vilified by GOP leaders in the legislature. McCrory said in his remarks that education was a bipartisan issue.

Then he said – and you tea partyers hang on to those tri-cornered hats – that, “Jim Hunt is a hero of mine, he’s a mentor of mine, and the state has been so fortunate to have him in leadership in so many different ways. From the day I came in office and was sworn in and then sworn at at times, he’s been a great adviser to me.”

We can take this to mean only one thing: Gov. McCrory, whose road as governor has been plagued by potholes and wrong turns and bad drivers in the Cabinet, has decided to change course.

With Hunt mentoring McCrory, we expect the governor to shortly announce he wants to not just raise teacher pay to the national average (which Hunt did) but to make the state’s teachers the highest paid in the country. He’ll likely create “An Even Smarter Start,” building on Hunt’s signature Smart Start preschool program.

Hunt had a role in building the state’s high-tech industry, so expect McCrory to advocate a sales tax hike to provide money for more investment. Hunt was big on the Biotechnology Center and N.C. State’s Centennial Campus, so get ready, UNC system, as Gov. McCrory will advocate such campuses at every institution.

And how long can it be before the governor (that’s Gov. McCrory) tells the GOP leaders on Jones Street that the state needs to expand Medicaid and expand unemployment benefits?

Quite an agenda, but surely McCrory isn’t going to let down his “mentor.”

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