Under the Dome

Cooper, McCrory jostle over debates


Behind-the-scenes jostling continues over debates between the candidates for governor of North Carolina.

Gov. Pat McCrory and Attorney General Roy Cooper agreed in May to debate each other at least twice. They did debate in Charlotte at an event sponsored by the N.C. Bar Association last month, and are still planning on a N.C. Broadcasters Association face-off sometime in October.

Cooper’s campaign in April agreed to four events, three of them debates, and isn’t budging from that position despite the McCrory team’s efforts to expand the number of debates to as many as eight.

McCrory’s staff now says Cooper won’t agree to a town hall event on jobs and the economy proposed by the N.C. Business Journals, a proposal by ABC 11 in the Triangle with the Best N.C. education advocacy group, and a WGHP/Fox 8 debate in the Triad.

Efforts are reportedly underway to set up a second broadcasters association debate and a Time Warner Cable News debate, according to McCrory. The governor has declined to a debate hosted by WRAL in Raleigh.

“If Roy Cooper was a Pokemon, he would be a Squirtle hiding in his shell,” Russell Peck, the governor’s campaign manager, said in a news release Friday. “... The people of North Carolina deserve to hear directly from both candidates for governor, but after 30 years as a politician inside state government, Roy Cooper doesn’t believe he owes anyone an explanation on anything.”

A Squirtle is a turtle-like Pokemon game character.

Ford Porter, Cooper’s spokesman, said the attorney general is still waiting for the governor to agree to the debate schedule he proposed.

“Governor McCrory's campaign is getting more desperate by the day,” Porter said. “We proposed a robust debate schedule months ago and are still waiting for McCrory to accept. The governor claims he wants to debate but couldn't even agree to a coin toss during debate negotiations. This is just desperate.”

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO