McCrory about to be sworn in as NC governor
RALEIGH (AP) — Rather than wait for the scheduled pomp of inauguration weekend, Pat McCrory is taking the oath of North Carolina governor this Saturday in a relatively low-key affair that will kick off a week of celebrating the new Republican administration.
McCrory will get sworn in a week before the scheduled outdoor inauguration and parade Jan. 12, when the governor and nine other Council of State members will be publicly installed and feted.
Instead of the thousands expected for next weekend, Saturday’s noon ceremony inside the House chambers within the 1840 Capitol building is an invitation-only event largely for family, friends and staff of the former Charlotte mayor. McCrory plans no prepared remarks Saturday, spokesman Chris Walker said Friday, leaving his speech for next weekend.
His eight incoming Cabinet members also are expected to attend and be sworn in immediately after in the old Senate chambers. The new leaders in the first GOP administration in 20 years are then scheduled to have brunch at the Executive Mansion, where McCrory and his wife, Ann, are moving in.
“Then they’re going to get to work,” McCrory said this week.
McCrory said he decided to get sworn in a week before scheduled inauguration festivities because legislative leaders passed a law bringing the newly elected General Assembly to Raleigh this coming Wednesday to choose leaders and organize. He didn’t want to be on the sidelines when the Legislature arrived to begin the two-year session.
“We felt it’d be proper that the governor be sworn in at the same time or prior to the Legislature,” McCrory said Thursday. The state constitution indicates an incoming governor can be installed as early as Jan. 1, “but we feel (Saturday) is an appropriate time,” he added. “One reason we thought it was appropriate was I need to get my team in place.”
McCrory will keep inaugural festivities going before the Jan. 11 inaugural ball and public inauguration ceremony the next day by holding open houses Monday through Wednesday in Asheville, Greensboro, New Bern and Charlotte. He said he wants to use the opportunity to interact with citizens and elected officials in those regions.
McCrory will still hold the traditional Executive Mansion open house the afternoon of Jan. 12.
Using the old Capitol building for a governor’s swearing-in isn’t unprecedented, but it is unusual in modern times, said Michael Hill, a research supervisor with the state Office of Archives and History.
Gov. Luther Hodges used the House chambers inside the (now old) Capitol on Nov. 9, 1954, for his swearing-in, but it was under unexpected circumstances — predecessor William Umstead had died in office two days before, according to state history documents.
Over the past several decades, most governors have been officially installed during the public inauguration ceremony outdoors, often on the steps of the state library. Gov. Jim Hunt was sworn in on Bicentennial Plaza in 1977 and at Broughton High School in Raleigh in 1997. This year’s Jan. 12 public inaugural ceremonies will be held on the south side of the old Capitol building looking down Fayetteville Street.
Saturday’s use of the old House and Senate chambers means there’s not enough room for the general public, and there are a limited number of seats for people close to the new administration’s leaders and the media. A prayer service held at 11 a.m. Saturday before the ceremony at Christ Episcopal Church across from the old Capitol is closed to the press.
Outgoing Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue plans to attend Saturday’s swearing-in and will participate with the traditional transfer of North Carolina’s official seal to McCrory. The state constitution places the seal’s responsibility with the governor. Perdue is supposed to read an oath that McCrory will repeat. He’ll then make an impression of the seal for his official papers, according to the Department of Cultural Resources.
Perdue told The Associated Press last week no one who hasn’t been governor can be prepared fully for the position beforehand.
“Just expect the unexpected and keep your sense of humor,” Perdue said when asked what advice she’d give McCrory. “Just keep your sense of humor or it’ll drive you nuts.”
Following a November election victory over Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, McCrory will be the state’s 74th governor and the 101st person to become North Carolina’s chief executive going back to Colonial times.