Pat McCrory tells quite a story in a video accompanying his announcement of a run for a second term as governor.
Speaking over the slow, somber notes of a piano, McCrory opens the video by saying, “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 point of beginning with that sad vignette, the video suggests, is that McCrory is directly familiar with what tens of thousands of North Carolinians endured during the Great Recession, and that’s why he has pushed hard to create jobs during his so-called “Carolina Comeback.”
But the governor’s effort to link himself arm-in-arm with North Carolinians who lost their jobs actually is just another of his and the GOP-led legislature’s insults to the unemployed.
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According to a 2014 Greensboro News & Record story about McCrory’s nearly three decades at Duke Energy, his layoff in 1988 lasted all of three weeks before the utility rehired him and gave him a better job.
Thus the governor’s fleeting experience with unemployment after a layoff came down to this: He lost a job, but his financial responsibilities were few and his prospects of finding work quite good as a college graduate in his early 30s with 10 years of experience working for a major utility.
And, by the way, the North Carolina unemployment rate in 1988 hovered around 3.6 percent. The rate was more than double that in 2013 when McCrory signed steep cuts in state unemployment benefits that caused the immediate end of federal long-term unemployment benefits to more than 71,000 North Carolinians.
Along with hammering the unemployed, the governor has refused to support the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which would benefit perhaps 500,000 North Carolinians, many of them struggling in low-paying jobs.
And what about the Carolina Comeback? Yes, the state’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5.7 percent from the 8.7 rate when McCrory took office in January 2013, but 37 other states still have lower rates than North Carolina.
In arguing for a second term, McCrory is going to have to make more of a case than claiming credit for an economic rebound that for many North Carolinians isn’t as great as the governor seems to think it is. Many who have found jobs are underemployed, recent tax cuts have favored the wealthy and big corporations and public schools are underfunded.
The governor and his record are going to come under close scrutiny. That’s something McCrory didn’t have to face when he was a candidate looking for a job and not an incumbent talking dramatically about how he lost one.