Charlotte’s fall from grace

by | Mar 27, 2014 | Editor's Blog, NC Politics, Politics | 8 comments

Just a couple of years ago, Charlotte seemed to be taking its place as the leader in North Carolina politics in the 21st century. For the second time in a decade, one of its legislators was speaker of the NC house. It’s former mayor was elected governor and its sitting mayor was appointed U.S. Secretary of Transportation. In addition, Charlotte Congressman Mel Watt was appointed head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

However, the past year cast a bit of doubt on Charlotte’s political rise. Pat McCrory quickly proved that serving as mayor of the state’s largest city left him ill-prepared to run the state. Speaker Thom Tillis got seriously out-maneuvered by his counterparts in the state senate and now looks like a less-than-stellar candidate for U. S. Senate. And yesterday, Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon got arrested for what looks like corruption based purely on personal greed.

For most of the 20th century, Charlotte was like its own state. Its economy was based on banking and finance while the rest of North Carolina was agriculture and manufacturing. Rarely did Charlotte politicians reach the heights of power in state politics.

As the state began to grow and change at the end of the century, so did Charlotte’s influence. Rep. Jim Black became speaker of the house. Erskine Bowles was twice the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. And by 2008, Pat McCrory was the GOP nominee for governor and Tillis emerged as speaker after 2010, indicating Charlotteans were leading both parties.

Today, Jim Black is back in Charlotte after serving time in prison. McCrory is increasingly looking like a one-term governor. Tillis can’t shake a bunch of no-name competitors in the GOP Senate primary. And now Patrick Cannon looks like he’s probably heading to jail.

Pundits have been asking how it affects the Democratic Party. I don’t think it does. Cannon has never been on the radar of state political leaders and Jim Black is a bit of a distant memory.

However, its very damaging to Charlotte’s attempt to move into the state political orbit. Their leaders have always had a provincial approach to politics and it’s showing. They don’t understand the rest of the state and their values seem out of sync.

Anthony Foxx was smart to take the gig at the Department of Transportation. Putting a little daylight between himself and the Queen City was the best thing he could have done for his political career.


    • Chris Telesca

      They don’t need a special election. The City Council has the ability to make a replacement, and since the City Council is majority Democratic, it’s very likely that the replacement will also be a Democrat. Why should they go to the extra expense of a special election to elect a Mayor when there is already a legal way to replace the Mayor without the extra time and expense?

      • Stuart

        I think the appointment process works just fine if only a short amount of time remains until the term ends. But in this case 84% of the term remains before the next election. It would cost little more if it was held when the primary runoff is (it is safe to assume that there will be runoffs in Charlotte) or when the general election were held this year. The council could (possibly) appoint someone who then must run in the special election to keep the seat (this is the process used for senate seats). I think the people deserve a chance to vote for who their mayor will be when so much time remains until November 2015.

        • Chris Telesca

          You can’t put it on the ballot for May – those ballots are already printed up. You could wait till November, but then half the term will have expired. Otherwise you have to hold a special and expensive election. The law is the law – you can say the people deserve to hold a special election, but that is not what the law allows for.

          Change the law if you can, but let’s work with the law we have now.

  1. Tommy

    They haven’t gone after the bankers because the bankers are running the country!

  2. Chris Telesca

    I too find it interesting that the Obama DOJ is targeting minority Democrats in the latest round of corruption investigations. One guy got stung for under $1000 of travel vouchers. Hardly worthwhile compared to the millions they are spending to do these investigations.

    Obama’s DOJ hasn’t gone after the banksters because the banksters donated heavily to Obama’s campaign at the start-up. And they wont’ be gone after because the next Democratic candidate favored by Obama’s campaign team (Axelrod, Messina & Plouffe) will be needing those corporate start-up donations.

  3. Emma G.

    What I find ironic is that no one from Charlotte’s too criminal to fail Bank of America has ever gone to jail.

    • Karen Breunig

      bank of satan is a person, right? So, yeah why isn’t someone in jail?? Just cut tons of jobs bit by bit, outsourse, etc., and rake in your profits at the peoples’ expense, yawn, business as usual these days.

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