Republicans have continued their systematic tirade against the governor in the waning days of this legislative session, but they now have unlikely opponents: two former Republican governors.
The Charlotte Observer wrote yesterday that a “Far-reaching ballot measure could make NC governor even weaker,” but buried in that headline was an impressive show of solidarity from former governors. Governor McCrory, a Republican, said that “It’s a blatant power grab from the executive branch,” and he’s right. McCrory sparred with the Republican legislature over appointments to the Coal Ash management a few years ago, ultimately winning in the state Supreme Court.
Governor Jim Martin is a Republican who served during the 1980’s, and he also opposes the proposal. “The legislature should be making laws, not running the government,” he told the Observer. The legislature is stripping away the ability of the governor to faithfully execute the laws when they remove his appointment powers.
It should be reiterated that this is not about partisanship: it’s about power. The legislature has consistently undermined the executive and judicial branches in a naked attempt to consolidate all levers of power into their hands. Changing demographics in the state are pointing toward a more moderate — and potentially liberal — electorate, as young professionals migrate from west and north into the Tar Heel state. Because these new voters will tend toward Democrats, especially the more moderate strain in the south, the GOP is hoping to calcify their power by undercutting every other branch of government and enshrining their power grabs into the state constitution.
The striking aspect of everything this legislature has done in the past eight years is its sheer arrogance. These moves by the NCGA seem to be predicated on never losing their majorities. Indeed, the current set of legislators will return after the November election — but before the new representatives take office in January— to force through draconian measures in case their supermajorities are lost.
The gall of these Republican legislators is stunning. Voters elected Roy Cooper with the expectation that he would exercise all the powers enumerated to the chief executive of the state. This legislature is hoping to overturn the will of the voters by giving those powers to themselves.
Kirk Kovach is a native North Carolinian interested in writing about politics, communication and culture.