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Political Note #268   Roy Cooper Governor North Carolina

2020                             General Election

North Carolina can be the next Virginia. In 2017, Virginia elected Democrats as Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General and almost achieved a majority in the House of Delegates. In 2019, Virginia elected enough Democrats to the House of Delegates so they had a majority; enough Democrats to the State Senate so that body had a majority, too.

North Carolina currently has a Democratic Governor running for reelection, a Republican Lt. Governor running for Governor, and a Democratic Attorney General running for reelection. North Carolina has two Republican United States Senators. One of them is up for election. North Carolina has thirteen Congressional districts. Ten are held by Republicans. The districts have been redrawn, not redrawn enough. There will be more contention after the census, but, for now, it is reasonable to expect North Carolina will have at least five Democratic Members of Congress instead of three. The North Carolina state legislature is a bigger problem. State courts have agreed that the state legislative map is illegally gerrymandered. But the map has not yet been changed.

Begin with the Governor. Reelect Roy Cooper https://roycooper.com/. He was elected in 2016 – by just over 10,000 votes. The Libertarian candidate received just over 100,000 votes. The Republican incumbent was the first North Carolina incumbent governor defeated since 1850.

Here’s an aside. Ranked voting is probably a step toward greater democracy. Ranked voting and greater democracy can sometimes help Republicans. If North Carolina had ranked voting in 2016, Roy Cooper would almost certainly not have been elected Governor.

The incumbent Governor in 2016 was shocked. He claimed fraud. The legislature was shocked. They did what they could to neutralize a Democratic Governor. The North Carolina legislature began its attack before Roy Cooper took office.

The North Carolina legislature conducted a special session, a surprise additional special session – designed to surprise any organized opposition. The surprise special session took control of elections away from the Governor. It took control of education from the Governor.

North Carolina has a state election board and local election boards. The State Board had a 3-2 majority in favor of the Governor’s Party. The new bill created an eight member combined election and ethics board – four appointed by the Governor, four appointed by the legislature. The county boards were designed so the Governor’s party had a 2-1 majority. The county election boards would now have four members. In election years, one of the legislative appointees would chair. In non-election years, one of the governor’s appointees would chair.

North Carolina does not have a heavy commitment to civil service positions. The Governor had about 1,500 positions he could appoint to education boards at the K-12 level and the university level. The legislature reduced that number to 425.

In June, 2018 a State Supreme Court decision ruled in favor of Governor Roy Cooper. The state legislature could make decisions about the size and responsibility of state boards, but could not structure the appointment process to block the governor’s authority to administer the laws. In March, 2018, Governor Roy Cooper made a lot of new appointments. He may have had fewer appointments to make than his predecessor but the longer he stays Governor, the more he will change education in North Carolina.

The North Carolina legislature continued hampering Roy Cooper after he took office. Because of gerrymandering, both houses of the legislature had a supermajority.

  • The legislature voted to make NC Supreme Court elections partisan. Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the law. The legislature overrode the veto.
  • The Legislature voted to reduce the size of the Court of Appeals to prevent Governor Roy Cooper from having new appointments. He vetoed the law. The legislature overrode the veto.
  • The Legislature tweaked the election oversight law, hoping to make it consistent with the North Carolina constitution. Roy Cooper vetoed the law. The legislature overrode the veto.
  • The Legislature passed a law preventing individuals from suing polluting hog farms. Roy Cooper vetoed the law. The legislature overrode the veto.
  • Roy Cooper vetoed the legislature’s budget, complaining the funds were insufficient to fund promised teacher salary increases. The legislature overrode the veto.

Notwithstanding gerrymandering, the 2018 election put an end to the Republicans’ supermajority in both the North Carolina House of Representatives and the North Carolina Senate. Republicans still have majorities, but they cannot override vetoes on their own. The Senate has a Republican majority of 29-21; the House of Representatives has a 66-55 Republican majority. Flip four seats in the Senate and elect a Republican Lt. Governor. Flip six seats in the House of Representatives. North Carolina resembles Virginia.

None of this works, though, unless Roy Cooper is reelected. Roy Cooper is a great candidate for North Carolina. He was born in Ashville, North Carolina to a teacher and an attorney who owned a tobacco farm. Roy Cooper worked on the farm in the summer. He went to local public schools and won a Morehead Scholarship, a generously endowed competitive merit scholarship to the University of North Carolina designed to attract young leaders.   Hew stayed at the University of North Carolina to get his law degree.

Roy Cooper joined the family law firm, ran for the state legislature, was appointed to the State Senate to fill a vacancy, and, back in the day, when Democrats were the majority in the state legislature, became the Majority Leader. He was elected Attorney General in 2000. As AG, he dismissed the case against Duke lacrosse players who had been falsely accused of rape.

His election as governor in 2016 might not have happened.   Roy Cooper’s predecessor signed North Carolina’s notorious bathroom law. The bathroom law required public bathrooms be used by people according to the sex they were born as. The corporate and NBA basketball reaction was quick and clear. They had no interest in a state with that kind of law. The bathroom law cost North Carolina money and probably elected Roy Cooper.

Roy Cooper negotiated revisions in the law with the legislature. The revisions made no one particularly happy, but they calmed corporate anger.

We need Roy Cooper to continue leading North Carolina. Governorships create the kind of country we live in. Governors are on the front line of battles over American values. Roy Cooper https://roycooper.com/ has been on those front lines. Keep him in this fight on our behalf.

Democrats can win Governorships anywhere. In 2019, Democrats won Governorships in Louisiana and Kentucky. A Democrat lost a close race in Mississippi. More to come for 2020


Missouri                   State Auditor Nicole Galloway

North Carolina      Incumbent Roy Cooper

North Dakota         House Minority Leader Josh Boschen

Vermont                  Ex Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe

Washington            Incumbent Jay Inslee


Several states have competitive Democratic primary races. Frontrunners may emerge. We may have to wait for primary results.