There are a lot factors that will be in play in the 2016 gubernatorial race in North Carolina. The Presidentail "coattail affect has hurt McCrory(2008) and helped him(2012). We will see who the Presidential candidates for both parties are before we start handicapping the coattail affect. We can however look at what McCrory has done so far and what he needs to do to beat back a fierce challenge from Attorney General Roy Cooper, the presumptive Democrat nominee for Governor.
The Governor has had the luxury that his predecessors did not have, a GOP run state legislature. The governor has had the luxury of signing bills that have reduced and reformed the tax code. He has pushed for and has received approval for hydraulic fracking in NC. He has signed, albeit he vetoed the first version, a bill that protects the unborn and allows for more informed choices for North Carolina women.
The governor did not expand the federal borrowing for unemployment benefits. This move will be a much mentioned target for his liberal opponents, but to conservatives it was the right move. The unemployment rate has since dropped by the way.
The governor has been on a job creating mission ever since taking office. If you follow his press releases l, you have undoubtedly seen every announcement of new jobs or expanded jobs.
The governor has pushed higher teacher pay. Even though the house and the senate passed different versions, the net result is the governor can announce the largest pay increase for teachers in state history. This will not silence the education lobby and their leftist counterparts from crying foul, however. The governor, by very nature of being a republican, hates kids and hates teachers. At least according to Rob Christenson and the leftist media.
The governor signed historic voter fraud legislation. Regardless of the lawsuits, the move was a welcome site to conservatives.
Overall, Governor McCrory has signed many pieces of good legislation into law ranging from tax cuts, school vouchers, energy exploration, to pro life legislation. Many on the conservative side would question whether to thank the governor or the conservative minded legislature? Regardless NC is on the right track and McCrory has either helped or hasn't screwed up. There is no doubt he will be the GOP none in 2016 for Governor.
The Governor is pushing his 25 year transportation plan. He wants to emulate his hero, President Dwight Eisenhower, and rebuild North Carolina's roads an infrastructure. The plan is heavy on ideas and short on funding.
With NC having the highest gas tax in the southeast, the governor can't very well push for an increase to the gas tax without upsetting the voters. Even with the gas tax, the revenues are not such to pay for such a plan. He has emphasized toll raids. In theory this could work. However, with the NC congressional delegation sponsoring a bill to not allow I-95 to be tolled, the mood for tolls is lukewarm at best. Many voters are Leary of new charges or taxes on roads they drive when the already high gas taxes are either wasted or used on pet projects. The governor will have a tough sell on his new transportation plan. A plan, that will be a bulwark of his 2016 reflection campaign.
The governor has stubbornly stuck his HHS cabinet secretary. Even as the Healthcare.gov style failure of NC FAST, still smolder a around them. The website is still glitchy and slow. Payments and benefits are even slower.. The governor is maintaining that he has confidence in his cabinet, but the people of NC do not.
The governor has also decided to sue his GOP counterparts in the legislature. The rub is over the coal ash commission. The commission was created by the legislature to oversee the closing of Duke Energy's coal ash ponds. The closings are due to the coal ash spill into the Dan River earlier this year. The Governor got three appointees, three from the house, and three from the senate. The chairman of the committee is one of the Governor's appointees. He contends that his suit is to preserve "Executive power". Former governors Jim Hunt and James Martin have also joined Governor McCrory in the suit. It may be a good lawsuit to the governor but it is bad politics.
The lawsuit is the first of many rifts between the Governor and the legislature. It will anger the right and cement the image of the moderate McCrory fighting the conservative legislature.
It will be construed, by the left, as protecting Duke Energy. The governor has toes to the power company and this will be a favorite target of Roy Cooper and his Moral Monday accolytes. Either way the suit is dumb and it shows a lack of judgment and common sense on the governors's part.
In summary, Governor McCrory will be hit hard by Roy Cooper and the Moral Monday crowd. He will need to rally his base in order to win in2016. He won't do that by suing the GOP legislature or by pushing tax and spend policies. He needs to let the legislature do their job and just stay out of the way. We'll see.