RALEIGH – North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory released a video Tuesday announcing his bid for re-election. The video, narrated by McCrory himself, details his personal history and goals for a second term, focusing particularly on the state’s drop from a high of over ten percent unemployment in 2010 to October’s 5.7 percent jobless rate.
“One of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life, was to come home after my job was eliminated, was to come home and tell Anne that I didn’t have a job anymore…” McCrory recounts in the video. “I’m running for governor not because of what we’ve accomplished, but because our comeback story isn’t over. There’s still more to do and, with your support, we’ll finish the job.”
The governor will make his first public appearance following his announcement on Wednesday in the Triad, highlighting local businesses that have benefitted from reforms enacted during his tenure on taxes, unemployment and education.
“This state is experiencing an economic recovery that is the envy of the nation. Our taxes are lower, state government is getting off the backs of small business, and we have a massive bond referendum to strengthen our schools and our highways,” said former U.S. Ambassador Jim Cain. “I cannot imagine North Carolina voters wanting to change teams in the midst of this terrific momentum.”
Voters will get a full ballot in March, choosing not only their party’s nominee for president, governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House and the state legislature, but also voting on McCrory’s two billion dollar Connect NC bond. Connect NC is a centerpiece of McCrory’s term and would permit the state to issue bonds to pay for repairs and upgrades in 76 counties including projects on transportation infrastructure, community colleges, universities, and water and sewer systems.
McCrory is expected to face Democrat and state Attorney General Roy Cooper in November’s general election. Since Cooper announced his candidacy for governor in October, analysts have been closely watching North Carolina’s gubernatorial race. Recently McCrory saw a slight bump over Cooper in September polls, but numbers have been close throughout the summer and fall.
“McCrory has a challenge ahead of him in that a lot of people still don’t know who Roy Cooper is, but he’s running neck-and-neck with McCrory,” said polling analyst Jim Williams of Public Policy Polling. “It’s a real toss up right now.”
Despite his statewide anonymity, in Raleigh Cooper has faced Republican criticism for not joining lawsuits against the Obama administration’s policies on reducing carbon dioxide emissions and requiring transgender public school bathrooms, among others. Meanwhile Cooper has been trying to portray McCrory as taking the state backward and away from what he says is North Carolina’s history as a progressive Southern state.
“The governor’s race will be a study in contrasts,” said Jonathan Felts, a former White House political director who served as an adviser to McCrory. “Governor Pat McCrory has worked hard, helping to lead forward-leaning, innovative efforts that are putting thousands of North Carolinians back to work. Attorney General Roy Cooper has worked just as hard to fight those innovations, offering little but hollow, partisan rhetoric. My guess is that voters will have a clear choice between McCrory’s substantive, future-focused agenda or Cooper’s backward-looking lamentations about missing the allegedly good old days of trying to tax folks to work.”
McCrory’s video announcement comes the same day as the opening bell on North Carolina’s candidate filing season, which runs through Dec. 21. The primary was moved up from May to March 15 by the General Assembly this year in an effort to boost North Carolina’s influence in the presidential election and increase advertising revenue flowing into the state.
The earlier primary date also squeezes the primary campaign season into four months. Twenty state legislators have already announced that they will not seek re-election. The most recent is Rep. Chris Whitmire (R-Transylvania) who made his announcement Tuesday. However, Republicans say they expect to maintain the majority, particularly in light of their work to cut taxes and reform Medicaid.
“I knew I was going to run again whether it was May or March and many others were the same,” said N.C. House Majority Whip John Bell (R-Wayne), who filed for re-election on Tuesday. “It’s an exciting time in North Carolina. We are going to have a number of people filing for all state, local and national offices. It’s all part of a citizen legislature. We send people to Raleigh to serve well, get big-ticket things accomplished and turn the state around. When they decide they’ve accomplished what they set out to do, it’s time for someone else to serve. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”
Absentee primary voting begins by mail on Jan. 25, 2016. Candidates for the general election must file by Feb. 29, 2016, with voters headed to the polls on Nov. 8 of next year.