Under the Dome

Cooper won’t appear in bond ads

Attorney General Roy Cooper said Monday he will not appear in campaign material promoting the statewide $2 billion bond issue on the primary ballot in March.

Cooper, who supports the bond, said in a letter to bond campaign organizers he will accept their invitation to appear at a kickoff event Tuesday in Raleigh. But he asked that his image or the fact that he is endorsing the bond not be included in any paid advertising.

In his letter to bond committee co-chairman Robert Orr, Cooper said it wouldn’t be appropriate because, as a candidate for governor next year, he would appear on the same ballot as the bond measure. He said it could imply the bond campaign endorses his campaign.

Another problem, Cooper said, is that the bond campaign could be harmed if one or more candidate’s popularity wanes.

This has been an evolving issue since the state Democratic Party in October raised concerns about whether the bond campaign could become a vehicle promoting Gov. Pat McCrory’s re-election. The state Board of Election last month issued an advisory saying the referendum committee could use candidates’ photos, statements and videos that they have appeared in, so long as it doesn’t coordinate those materials with the candidates’ campaigns.

The board’s executive director had initially advised that candidates on the March ballot could not work with pro-bond groups by appearing in their ads, but then clarified.

Cooper’s letter said he strongly endorses the bond. “North Carolina’s future should be built on a solid foundation of schools, transportation, recreation and infrastructure, and I wholeheartedly support the bonds as one of the positive ways forward,” Cooper said.

An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to it as a $3 million bond issue.