The following is a column by Mark Shiver, host of “What Matters in North Carolina”
The new Majority Whip in the NC House of Representatives, Rep. Jon Hardister, (R-Greensboro) was a guest on Monday’s edition of “What Matters in North Carolina.” Though the final caucus vote had not taken place when the segment was recorded, Hardister nonetheless was candid and confident about not only the past success the Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly had accomplished, but what they were going to get done in the upcoming session that starts in January 2017.
On the Republican turnout in North Carolina and across the country in the election, Hardister said, “I think Republicans had an excellent election, not only North Carolina but across the country. But, in North Carolina Trump won by nearly four points, Burr won by approximately six, we picked up three seats on the Council of State. The Governor’s down slightly which is disappointing, but we’re hoping a recount might put Pat McCrory back ahead in that race. We kept our super majority in the House and Senate. Overall Republicans had a great election this year.”
Many pundits forecast a tough time for the majority in the North Carolina House. Hardister addressed those who predicted that the Republicans might lose eight or nine seats in the election saying, “We worked really hard. Our leadership and the respected members of our caucus, we worked hard to get our message out. Needless to say we’re pleased with the results.”
One of the results of the election that gives pause to analysts is the fact that the GOP did so well across the board in North Carolina, yet Gov. McCrory was not able to ride that wave. Hardister said, “The way I’m looking at it is very simple. We have to analyze the results and make sure the election’s fair. And if Pat McCrory lost fair and square we’ll accept it. But, there are allegations floating related to voter fraud we’ve got to take seriously. The race is extremely close. So I think it should go to a recount. We need to make sure that the count is accurate.”
Hardister speculated on a possible reason for a McCrory loss, if that in fact is the final outcome of the canvassing process. Hardister said, “If McCrory does lose, I think the reason’s probably because there was so much outside money brought in to attack the Governor. A tremendous amount of outside money was spent in attacking the Governor. If he does lose I think that’s probably why.” To his point, one only has to think back to the weeks prior to the election to remember that volume of ads that seemed to promote Roy Cooper and attack McCrory.
With the possibility that Cooper could be the next governor, and with the next legislative session only a few weeks away, Hardister was candid about the possible dynamic between Cooper, a Democrat, and a majority Republican General Assembly. Hardister said, “If Cooper prevails we’ll offer to work with him. We’ll reach out our hand in good faith. And we know that we’re going to disagree on some issues, but we will try to work with the Governor – if Cooper does prevail – as much as possible. But, we’re going to stand our ground on key issues, and the good news is we have a super majority. So if there’s legislation important for North Carolina that would move forward and ends up being vetoed by the Governor, then I think we stand a good chance of an override.”