Roy Cooper and Pat McCory Make Gubernatorial Pitch in Forum
Democratic attorney general and candidate for governor Roy Cooper and Republican incumbent Pat McCrory alternated turns pitching their visions for the state of North Carolina at a gubernatorial candidate forum hosted by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce on Thursday in Pinehurst.
Cooper was first to take a 30-minute turn speaking to the crowd. Cooper introduced himself as a family man who was born, raised and educated in the Tar Heel state before serving in the legislature and as attorney general. But Cooper said he is now concerned over the direction of North Carolina and that pushed him to run for the state’s top position.
“Because I believe, more than ever, we need bold leadership,” Cooper said. “We need leadership that understands the issues. We need leadership who will coordinate our economic recruitment strategy. We need a leader who will be personally involved as governor.”
Cooper said it was time to unite the state and move North Carolina forward rather than continue with partisan breakdowns.
“I think people are hungry for those who can emerge from these kinds of partisan fights, ignore the personal barbs, ignore – as much as possible – the politics,” Cooper said, “and then sit down, roll up their sleeves, get something done [and] find common ground.”
Cooper said he had a history in his time as a leader in the legislature of working across the aisle to fund public education while not overburdening North Carolina’s taxpayers.
Cooper said the opportunities for business investment and growth are endless in North Carolina, but only if the state’s controversial House Bill 2 is repealed.
“Right now, we have a governor who is putting partisan, political ideology above the best interests of jobs and schools and economic development,” Cooper told the crowd.
McCrory began his half hour by remembering back to his inauguration and how the fountains at the Executive Mansion were broken. He continued rolling through examples of things he described as broken and falling apart when he took office – from school buildings to the state’s economy fighting to break out of the recession.
McCrory said he immediately got to work bringing “basic business decisions” to state government and attempting to streamline operations.
“And I had to step on the toes of both the right and the left, both the Republicans and Democrats, to make change happen,” McCrory said. “Because that’s what change agents do.”
McCrory said another area that drew the immediate eye of his administration was to trigger cuts to long-term federal unemployment benefits.
“The other thing we decided to do was pay off our debt of $2.6 billion,” McCrory said. “And the third thing we decided to do was build up the reserves of our unemployment so in case there’s another recession, we don’t increase the taxes because we’ve wiped out the unemployment fund.”
McCory did address the “elephant in the room” of HB2, which advocates have criticized as the worst piece of anti-LGBT legislation in the nation.
The bill has several provisions that limit the ability of localities to extend nondiscrimination policies beyond the state or increase the minimum wage locally. But HB2 has gotten the most attention for the provisions that require transgender individuals to use the bathroom or changing facility in government-owned businesses that match their birth certificate rather than their gender identity.
McCrory put forward a hypothetical situation in a public school if transgender individuals are able to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity that he has used before.
“To recognize a concept of gender identity to allow a boy into a girl’s shower, locker room or bathroom facility based upon what they think they are,” McCrory said, “not what they are.”
Both candidates spoke about the need to invest in infrastructure in North Carolina.
Cooper and McCrory have been locked in a virtual dead heat for governor in recent months with Election Day quickly approaching.