If Pat McCrory wanted to make this election a referendum on HB2, last night he got his wish. The NCAA announced that it was pulling championship games out of North Carolina, including the opening round of the NCAA basketball tournament. Stripping away the NBA All-star game might have opened eyes, but messing with college basketball in North Carolina is almost sacrilegious.
Last week, HB2 seemed all McCrory could talk about. He released an ad saying that his opponents wanted to let boys use girls’ showers in school. He blamed the North Carolina Chamber for writing large parts of the bill, though they denied it. He blamed Roy Cooper and “leftists” for forcing him to sign the bad legislation.
Throughout the whole ordeal, McCrory has attacked the bill’s critics instead of taking responsibility or offering solutions. He accused musicians like Bruce Springsteen, a working-class hero, of being “elitists” for cancelling their shows. Likewise he called the NBA “sports and entertainment elites” and said their decision to move the all-star game was “PC BS.”
Through all of the debate, McCrory has tried to claim the point of the bill was to keep girls safe by keeping potential predators out of women’s restrooms and locker rooms. While social conservatives may cling to that rationale, most people believe the bill is about discrimination and that’s clearly what the NCAA thinks, too.
The issue is bigger than HB2, though. Since the GOP took over North Carolina, businesses, entertainers, sports groups, and the rest of the country watched uncomfortably as the legislature with the support of Pat McCrory targeted groups for discrimination. They targeted African-Americans with voter suppression measures. They allowed magistrates to discriminate against gay couples who want to marry. They passed an unneeded an anti-Sharia law bill that’s only purpose was to cast suspicions on Muslims. HB2 was the last straw.
The business and entertainment community has decided that it’s not going to reward a state that wants to discriminate against its citizens. Instead of reaching out to them, McCrory attacked them. He’s thrown his lot with conservative populists who want to turn back the clock and his rhetoric has left little room for compromise, not that there’s time anymore.
McCrory has little choice but to embrace his opposition to HB2. Instead of just battling Roy Cooper, he’s in a fight with the NCAA, NBA and most of the business community. While most of the GOP politicians in the state are ducking for cover, McCrory made himself the poster boy for a law he didn’t write.
But McCrory’s not totally alone. Lt. Governor Dan Forest and GOP Attorney General nominee Sen. Buck Newton are standing with him. Newton wants to “keep our state straight” and Forest is one of its staunchest defenders. Despite what polls say, they seem to think standing by HB2 is a winner. We’ll see what voters think in November.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >