Under the Dome

McCrory GOP opponent says he could win by being ‘the other guy’

Opponents of the I-77 tolls, like Vallee Bubak, left, and former Representative Robert Brawley, right, strategize how to best distribute their materials to lawmakers inside the N.C. General Assembly on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.
Opponents of the I-77 tolls, like Vallee Bubak, left, and former Representative Robert Brawley, right, strategize how to best distribute their materials to lawmakers inside the N.C. General Assembly on Tuesday, May 26, 2015. clowenst@newsobserver.com

Gov. Pat McCrory’s Republican challenger, former state Rep. Robert Brawley, is lagging far behind the incumbent in fundraising but said he hopes to benefit from the anti-establishment sentiment fueling Donald Trump’s presidential bid.

Brawley’s campaign hasn’t filed its end-of-year report yet, but he told the Statesville Record & Landmark that he’s raised $50,000 so far and hopes to reach $200,000.

That’s a small fraction of the $2.6 million raised by McCrory in the second half of 2015. The governor’s campaign has $4.1 million on hand.

With limited resources to get his message out, Brawley is hoping that some GOP primary voters will support him if they don’t like McCrory.

“It would be nice to be better known and have more money but the sentiment out in the public is so much ‘anybody but that guy in there,’ and this comes from Republicans,” Brawley told the Statesville paper. “I believe I could win by putting my name on the ballot as ‘the other guy.’”

Brawley also continued his frequent criticism of McCrory’s handling of Interstate 77 tolling plans on Twitter Thursday afternoon. McCrory’s transportation secretary said this week that the governor’s Democratic opponent, Roy Cooper, reviewed the toll lane contract as attorney general and “had the opportunity to raise objections or ask questions.”

“What we’ve seen from our current governor are repeated attempts to shift responsibility to others,” Brawley tweeted. “It’s disingenuous for the governor to point fingers when he has the power to stop the toll road project today.”

Brawley is seeking to gain statewide traction with the toll issue. In an interview with Time Warner Cable News earlier this week, he made the claim that McCrory administration officials told him in 2013 that “I-77 is just the beginning of tolling every interstate corridor in North Carolina.”

While there’s been virtually no public discussion of tolling major interstates like I-40 and I-85, state officials have studied funding I-95 improvements through tolls.

“If you think tolling is not a statewide issue, you wait until they start talking about tolling I-95,” Brawley told TWC News.

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