• 68°

Gary Pearce: Will Gov. McCrory become Sen. McCrory?

By Gary Pearce

Maybe you can’t stand Pat, but former Governor McCrory could be future Senator McCrory.

When McCrory announced he’ll run for the Senate next year, many of my fellow Democrats laughed — and pounced. So did Republicans.

Democrats dismissed him as the governor who signed into law House Bill 2, the controversial transgender “bathroom bill,” and then became the first North Carolina governor to lose reelection.

Another Republican running for the Senate seat, former Congressman Mark Walker, attacked him saying: “With taking back the Senate majority hinging on our success in North Carolina, why would we gamble on Pat McCrory — a career politician who has lost more statewide races than he’s won?”

McCrory lost to Bev Perdue in the 2008 governor’s race, then soundly defeated Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton in 2012 after Perdue decided — late in the campaign season — not to run again.

McCrory took shots from both parties because he interviewed for jobs in the Trump Administration after losing narrowly to Gov. Roy Cooper in 2016, but didn’t get appointed.

Walker said, “If Pat wasn’t good enough for Trump’s administration, he’s not good enough for our state.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said McCrory “couldn’t even get hired by the Trump administration.”

But he could get elected senator.

He enters the race with an advantage in name recognition, as his own campaign’s poll boasted. A Republican primary opponent will need a lot of money to overcome that.

McCrory has been mayor of Charlotte and governor. He has automatic stature.

Critics scoffed when he called himself an “outsider,” but that’s smart positioning. His campaign cited “the strength McCrory has as someone who has not served in Congress but instead has made executive-level decisions as a proven conservative.”

In other words, he’s not a Washington swamp creature like Walker and another congressman who might run, Ted Budd.

Lara Trump, Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, also might run. But why would she give up New York, Palm Beach and a Fox News gig? Plus, does Donald Trump want to risk his brand before 2024?

McCrory had a media gig too. He hosted “The Pat McCrory Show” on WBT radio. His campaign says that was “the top-rated talk radio show in Charlotte.”

It’s not “The Apprentice,” but it’s a big media market, especially in a Republican primary.

And he’s been a regular on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

It’s noteworthy that McCrory’s announcement didn’t mention Trump. You have to dig deep in his campaign website to find a mention of Trump. The former president is obviously a plus in the primary, but he may be poison with independents in a general election.

Sen. Richard Burr, who is vacating the seat, got censured by North Carolina Republicans when he voted to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Paul Shumaker, an experienced Republican consultant who worked with both Sens. Burr and Thom Tillis, is handling McCrory’s Senate race. Shumaker can provide the skilled professional hand that McCrory lost when Jack Hawke died after the 2012 election.

If McCrory wins the primary, history favors him. Republicans have won the last four Senate races in North Carolina and six of the last seven. Since the two-party era began in 1972, Republicans have won 13 Senate races and Democrats, only four.

The last North Carolinian to be elected both governor (1960) and senator (1986) was Terry Sanford.

Now, I knew Terry Sanford. Terry Sanford is a hero of mine. Pat McCrory is no Terry Sanford. But he could win Sanford’s old Senate seat next year — and be both a governor and a senator.

Gary Pearce was a reporter and editor at The News & Observer, a political consultant, and an adviser to Governor Jim Hunt (1976-1984 and 1992-2000). He blogs about politics and public policy at www.NewDayforNC.com.  

Comments

Business

Weak jobs report spurs questions about big fed spending

News

Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting in Elizabeth City

Sports

Woodland, two others share lead; Mickelson plays much worse but will still be around for weekend at Quail Hollow

Business

Former NHL player to open mobster themed bar in Raleigh

Nation/World

California population declines for first time

News

GOP leaders differ on bottom line for state spending

News

Police: Man killed in shootout with officers in Winston-Salem

Crime

Man charged after thieves rob would-be gun buyers of wallets, shoes

Crime

Blotter: Four added to sheriff’s most wanted list

High School

High school football: Some anxious moments, but Hornets win state title

Local

Photos: Salisbury High Hornets win big in 2AA championship game

Local

County manager outlines projections for the upcoming fiscal year budget, suggests uses for stimulus money

Business

Miami-based Browns Athletic Apparel opens second screen printing location in Salisbury

News

At funeral, fallen Watauga deputies remembered as ‘heroes’

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cluster identified at Granite Quarry Elementary

Coronavirus

More than half of North Carolinians have now taken at least one vaccine shot

Local

City hopes to cover expenses in 2021-22 budget with surplus revenue generated this year

Local

Fallen tree proves to be a blessing for local nonprofit Happy Roots

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Health department drops quarantine time from 14 to 10 days

Crime

Blotter: More than $100,000 in property reported stolen from Old Beatty Ford Road site

Local

City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide

Local

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras