In the most closely watched governor’s race this year, Republican incumbent Pat McCrory is challenged by Democrat Roy Cooper and Libertarian Lon Cecil.
While Cecil’s comments haven’t yet been looked into by PolitiFact North Carolina, more than two dozen claims by Cooper and McCrory – or their surrogates and supporters – have been put under the fact-checking microscope.
For all fact-checks from local politics, visit politifact.com/north-carolina. For this race specifically, follow the links to the pages for Cooper and McCrory. In the meantime, here are some of the most high-profile claims from this high-profile contest.
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Claim: North Carolina has “one of the fastest growing populations as well as the fastest growing economy in the country.”
Ruling: True. People are moving here in greater numbers than almost all other states. And if you look at per-capita GDP, the state did have the fastest economic growth between 2013 and late 2015. Rankings based on other economic measures, especially related to income, were not nearly as good, but that’s not how economists typically measure an economy’s strength. So his claim was accurate.
Claim: “The city of Charlotte passed a bathroom ordinance mandate on every private-sector employer in Charlotte.”
Ruling: Mostly False. Charlotte’s ordinance (the LGBT anti-discrimination measure that inspired House Bill 2) would not have applied to every private business in town. It would have applied only to public accommodations, like movie theaters or restaurants.
Claim: Says Bruce Springsteen “only had 8,000 tickets sold” for a Greensboro show and canceled after "they didn’t get the ticket sales they wanted.”
Ruling: Pants On Fire. McCrory was trying to shame The Boss after Springsteen canceled a concert over HB2. After being informed the show was actually on the verge of being sold out, with several days of ticket sales yet to go, McCrory apologized for his comments.
Claim: In the voter ID case, “Roy Cooper’s refusal to do his job is costing taxpayers money.”
Ruling: Mostly False. Legal experts say there are reasons an attorney general can refuse to defend the state in court, although those experts disagree on exactly when it’s OK. Regardless, Cooper’s refusal is actually saving taxpayers money. In the past, McCrory and the GOP-led legislature have hired outside lawyers for controversial cases even when Cooper’s office was already spending time and money defending the state.
Claim: Syrian refugees are not being vetted, and “the FBI is not even being told where they are.”
Ruling: Mostly False. This is a re-hash of a claim leading Republicans like Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have made, and it’s misleading. Syrian refugees are being vetted; the process can take two years or longer. The FBI also knows which U.S. cities they originally move to, although McCrory has a point that the FBI doesn’t continue to track every refugee after they’re settled. Nearly four out of five refugees, however, are children or senior citizens.
Claim: “In 67 different ways, Gov. McCrory has raised taxes on middle income families.”
Ruling: Half True. While the number is right, Cooper ignores the fact that McCrory and the GOP-led legislature also cut the income tax rate significantly.
Claim: “Under Pat McCrory, our state has fallen to 41st in teacher pay.”
Ruling: Mostly False. North Carolina does rank 41st in teacher pay, but that’s actually an improvement from when McCrory entered office.
Claim: “North Carolina spends $855 less per student than it did before the Great Recession, and we have one of the lowest per-pupil spending levels in the nation.”
Ruling: Mostly True. North Carolina is near the bottom in spending per student. And while the state actually spends more per student than before the recession, Cooper’s math is right if you account for inflation.
Claim: Says McCrory “tried to cut education funding to its lowest budget share in over 30 years.”
Ruling: Half True. McCrory did suggest that in one budget recommendation, but Cooper leaves out two pieces of information that might give a different impression: McCrory later revised that recommendation to call for more funding, and furthermore the share of the budget going to education also fell while Cooper served in the General Assembly (although not to the level McCrory had originally suggested).
Claim: Hillary Clinton said that “thanks to (North Carolina’s) governor and the legislature, the average teacher salary can barely support a family.”
Ruling: Mostly False. The average teacher makes more than the state’s median household income. It’s considered a living wage for someone supporting a spouse and two children, although experts say it’s not enough to create significant upward mobility. Furthermore, while McCrory and GOP legislators deserve some blame, so do Democratic legislators and former Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue – not to mention the Great Recession, which forced budget cuts.
Claim: Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, a powerful Republican lawmaker, said that “there are 31 other states and 10,000 other cities that have the same type of policies that we just passed,” in HB2.
Ruling: Half True. He’s right if you only consider the lack of LGBT protections in anti-discrimination laws. But North Carolina is the only state that explicitly bans transgender people in government facilities from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. And it’s one of just a few states to ban local governments from extending similar protections, or that had banned people from filing discrimination lawsuits in state court.
Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @PolitiFactNC
TRUE: The statement is accurate and there’s nothing significant missing.
MOSTLY TRUE: The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.
HALF TRUE: The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.
MOSTLY FALSE: The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.
FALSE: The statement is not accurate.
PANTS ON FIRE: The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.