Welcome to the fray

by | Jan 31, 2014 | 2014 Elections, Editor's Blog, NC Politics, NCGov | 5 comments

Roy Cooper released a video yesterday that some are heralding as the first ad of the 2016 race for governor in North Carolina. However, it’s not as much about 2016 as it is about 2014. The spot starts out pounding on the GOP for its embarrassing record during the 2013 legislative session and ends with Cooper asking for help in reclaiming the state’s reputation as a leader in “economic growth, educational excellence and personal freedom.”

Cooper’s message is right on the money. He lays out the problems with the Republican agenda and exposes their cultural insensitivity in a state that is becoming more, not less, diverse. He then reminds us that, not long ago, North Carolina was seen as a leader that attracted businesses and workers because of our progressive policies. And he uses the language of inclusion: “Join with me” and “we’ve lived through these times before” and “we need to come together.” They are powerful words.

Many of my friends on the left are skeptical of Cooper. They ask where he’s been in the past and point to him as the same brand of conservative or establishment Democrat that lost the state in the first place. There will be plenty of time for those fights in 2016 and beyond but first we’ve got to get there.

What’s relevant is where Cooper is today. He’s publicly taking on the GOP now, not in 2015 or 2016. That’s a brave move for a sitting Attorney General and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Cooper is creating a big enough platform to put the GOP on the defensive in a year when he’s not even on the ballot. No other elected officials are exposing themselves like Cooper is. He has to fight through two sessions of the general assembly–this year’s short session and next year’s long one–before the primary of 2016. The legislature will almost certainly make him and his office pay a price. I’m sure he knows the risks.

I’m a guy who has long been skeptical of establishment politicians, both Democrat and Republican, but now is not the time to quibble. Cooper has stepped up when he could have easily sat back and waited until after the mid-term elections. Instead, he’s offering leadership, cover and ammunition to the candidates and people fighting to take back the legislature.

Sure Cooper is self-interested. He’s building good will, name recognition and support. Who cares? This is politics and I say welcome to the fray.


  1. Skip Lawing

    Howdy…I grew up in NC…left to pursue dreams in NYC…I work for a progressive advocacy
    group. I will eventually retire back to NC. I am so hopeful of Roy Cooper’s ambitious challenge of “taking NC back”. I look forward to helping in any way I can once I return.

  2. Jack Wall

    Like Kay Hagan, Roy Cooper has always been an “establishment Democrat.” For some, that IS a bad thing, but TODAY, NC must take what it can get in a sparse political landscape! Hagan has finally stood up for a number of progressive causes after a long period of business-oriented silence and is doing some good; why else would she be a Koch/Rove target? Anyway, who else beside these two are fighting the conservative tidal wave covering this state? Both can be a benefit. I already support Hagan; I will support what Cooper is doing until he disappoints me. At this point, as you say in this piece, Cooper’s words are right and he is not in danger of losing an office. He’s putting his career on the line to do what he’s doing, already in trouble with DAG McCrory and the REAL GOV of NC, Art Pope. While your editorials and those of many other progressives are often positive and typically stand for what’s right (in my progressive opinion!), except for Rev. Barber, I’m seeing little movement outside of journalism and Facebook and Twitter against the conservative takeover of NC – and, sadly, that takeover seems to be moving along, not uncriticized, but, as far as I can see, clearly unfettered and undaunted. Progressives talk a good talk, but tell me what’s changed because of that talk? Hagan and Cooper are able to DO real things that may change NC’s course. As long as no one else of political note and power is in the fray and as long as progressives have nothing better to offer, they will both have my support!

  3. Anon E. Mouse

    I like Attorney General Roy Cooper. Unless some other blockbuster candidate emerges for the Democratic nomination, I expect to cast my vote for Roy Cooper in both the primary and the general election in 2016 to be North Carolina’s next governor. I truly hope he wins in 2016.

    That’s why I’m utterly amazed at the video he put out this week. It’s a nice video, don’t get me wrong, and the soft-spoken Cooper comes across as passionate about our schools and our economy. But there is absolutely no reference to reproductive health in that video (aside from a throwaway reference: “…they’ve waged a culture war against women, minorities…”). I’m sure that Roy Cooper is with us on abortion rights, but will he make it a centerpiece of his campaign? It appears not.

    This is a tragic mistake. Roy Cooper should be moving now to engage with supporters of reproductive freedom across North Carolina — to reassure them that he is an ally in the fight against the restrictions passed by extremists in the General Assembly and signed into Law by Governor McCrory. Roy Cooper should be studying Terry McAuliffe’s victorious gubernatorial campaign in Virginia last year — a campaign in which reproductive freedom was a core issue in McAuliffe’s messaging. Roy Cooper should be tapping into the energy and passion of supporters of reproductive freedom — supporters who could become his leading advocates in communities all over our state.

    Instead, Roy Cooper appears to want to remain silent on these issues, perhaps assuming that we’ll be with him regardless. I may vote for Roy Cooper, but I won’t donate a dime or volunteer a minute of my time unless and until I hear him talk with passion and intensity about what he’ll do to guarantee reproductive freedom to all North Carolinians.

    I’m still waiting, Attorney General.

  4. James Protzman


    I wonder if the fact that other candidates got out early helped nudge Mr. C., into the arena?


    • Thomas Mills

      Of course it did!

Related Posts


Get the latest posts from PoliticsNC delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!