Edwin Peacock lost the Charlotte Mayor’s race last week. Peacock is a moderate Republican who opposed Amendment One and has served several terms on the Charlotte City Council. He faced fellow council member and Democrat Patrick Cannon but couldn’t cross the finish line first.
This week, he laid part of the blame on former Charlotte Mayor and current Governor Pat McCrory. Peacock said that he was repeatedly asked if he would be like McCrory, with the implication that the Governor had caved to right-wingers in the legislature on issues important to the Queen City. His comments lay bare the split in the Republican Party and also bring into question the role the governor and legislature will play in the 2014 elections.
Peacock is the type of moderate Republican that the North Carolina GOP needs if they want to stay competitive as our state becomes more urban. He hails from the business wing of the party and opposed Amendment One. He’s a typical country clubber with little evidence of bigotry. He’s not mean-spirited or vindictive though he would certainly benefit from seeing how the other half lives.
But the Peacocks in the GOP will have a hard time as long the legislature and McCrory are playing to the social conservatives and Tea Partiers who make up the Republican base. At the state level, Republicans may be able to win the more conservative rural areas but they will suffer with independent voters they need to win in the urban/suburban areas. Peacock’s assessment should concern the Republicans hoping to pick up North Carolina in the 2014 U. S. Senate race.
But what about races down the ballot in 2014? If the Governor is that toxic in his own hometown, what are Republicans going to do in legislative districts around the state? Most of the competitive races are in urban/suburban areas and the winner is going to need a solid majority of independents to win. Are Republicans going to distance themselves from the first Republican governor in 20 years? And how are they going to explain to independent voters that they don’t really agree with the legislature when their party is in charge?
Peacock may have overstated the impact of McCrory’s influence in his defeat. Charlotte has been trending Democratic for years and all of the at-large city council seats went to Democrats. Regardless, Peacock spoke publicly about concerns that moderate Republicans have been voicing ever since the Republican legislature made a national spectacle of themselves and McCrory went willingly along.