The following is a column by Mark Shiver, host of “What Matters in North Carolina”
Governor-elect Roy Cooper regaled an assembled crowd with the rationale for why he is ready to be Governor, and tried to flex some verbal muscle at the General Assembly as well. His words that described his character and formative years served as a perfect picture of irony.
Last Wednesday, December 7, at the NC Free Enterprise Foundation’s annual leadership luncheon, Cooper took the stage as one of several elected officials to address the gathering of business leaders at the Angus Barn’s Lakeside Pavilion in Raleigh. He started his soliloquy with the usual recitation about his North Carolina roots and love for the state.
Cooper said, “Who I am is rooted in the soil of eastern North Carolina.” Cooper talked about hard work and faith, learning those important values growing up cropping tobacco and Sunday school classes taught by his parents. He also mentioned a “deep love” for the state.
Irony raised its head with the thought that perhaps he has forgotten those Sunday lessons that teach, “God created them male and female.” Cooper has advocated aggressively for the repeal of HB 2, and for allowing the notion of people claiming a certain gender identity to intrude into the private areas of others. Adding to this irony is that he worked against those who were working on a bipartisan change to the bill last July.
WBTV investigative reporter Nick Ochsner wrote on July 1, 2016, “A bipartisan coalition formed to pass a bill that would alter portions of the controversial HB 2 legislation, passed during a one-day special session earlier this year, fell apart Thursday afternoon amid pressure from Attorney General Roy Cooper.” While the reasons for his intervening to stop the coalition’s work are not clear, one can only speculate that he needed the bill to stay in place to use as a talking point during his campaign.
After all, it has been asserted that Cooper was actually behind the scenes using HB 2 to his advantage, actually trying to undermine the state with businesses to hurt McCrory’s re-election chances. The “deep love” for North Carolina seems to have taken a break when it came to the state’s economy, as well as for the safety of women and little girls.
Cooper beat the “Repeal HB 2” drum throughout his campaign, and tossed it out to a listening Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) at the luncheon last Wednesday. Cooper said that his election signifies the people saying, “We want a North Carolina that is not going to put the unnecessary hurdle of House Bill 2 in front of economic development.”
However, winning a statewide election by only 0.22 percent points is by no means a mandate.
Cooper called on the gathered array of business leaders to help him “fix HB 2.” Cooper said, “We need to get the legislature to repeal House Bill 2, and then if there are concerns that caused this bill to come about, then we need to address those concerns in the right way, in a way that doesn’t hurt people, and in a way that doesn’t hurt our economy.”
Of course the concerns that caused the bill to come about was an action by the Charlotte City Council that violated the State Constitution, put undue burdens on businesses and opened restrooms to anyone who merely said they “identified” as a particular gender. Funny how it is easy to imply that the General Assembly unilaterally passed HB 2.
Berger was also on the list of featured speakers at the luncheon, and after highlighting the things the General Assembly has done over the last six years to grow the economy of North Carolina, he responded to Cooper saying, “The campaign is over, but the rhetoric continues. It’s time for the Governor-elect to take a stance on the issues that surround House Bill 2. He needs to let the public know if he believes that men should be allowed in women’s and girl’s locker rooms. He needs to let us know whether middle school girls should be forced to share a locker room with middle school boys.”
Berger also said, “He [Cooper] has said that the bill is discriminatory. But he has refused to say how. I don’t believe the bill is discriminatory, but if he can explain why he believes it is, and how he would suggest we change it, I am very interested in hearing his thoughts.”
Another irony is that Cooper said he has been putting together a team that he says shares his “deep love” for North Carolina. Perhaps he should have clarified that the “deep love” does not include military service people. Cooper’s pick for a senior advisor is one Ken Eudy, who has boasted that he does not stand to honor military service members. In a state that is one of the most military-intensive in the country, Cooper will have a hard time selling the military and veterans on how much he appreciates their service with Eudy in tow. With Eudy’s words echoing loudly, it is not likely that the military will be feeling any “deep love.”