It’s hard to know where to start with this puppy mill episode. In a profanity laced diatribe, Senator Bill Rabon blasted the governor and swore that a bill to curb puppy mills would never see the light of day. Unfortunately for Rabon, his rant was recorded by animal welfare activists. The substance of the bill is far less important than the optics and the opportunities for Democrats, animal welfare activists and Pat McCrory.

First, and most obviously, nobody likes people who kick puppies. And, metaphorically, that’s just what the Senate is doing. They’ve already killed a bill five months before session starts that might otherwise have gotten little notice.

For years, animal welfare groups have been trying to pass legislation to regulate dog breeding and for years the bills have died lonely deaths garnering little attention. Now, with Berger playing the role of Cruella De Vil and Senator Rabon taking on the dual role of both Horace and Jasper, the animal welfare folks have villains to attack while riding to the aid of defenseless puppies.

Democrats need to exploit the bullying response from Berger and company. Senator Tom Apodaca blamed the premature death of the puppy mill on the activists who recorded the meeting with Rabon. That’s like an abusive husband saying his wife’s complaining forced him to punch her. They took the similar threatening stance toward teachers protesting their low pay. These guys are bullies, plain and simple, and Democrats should jump on their heavy-handed methods for killing this bill.

Finally, the episode has everything McCrory needs to regain some credibility, flex some muscle and show that he’s willing to stand up to the senate leadership. It’s got a bill he supports, it’s got a defenseless victim and it’s got a mean-spirited bully. McCrory should blast the senate for vowing to kill the bill, reiterate his support for the legislation and ask the public to support him in his bid to protect puppies. He’s got a clear opportunity to stand up and fight for something that he believes in.

Instead, he’s blowing it. McCrory is blaming the animal welfare folks for recording the meeting, defending Rabon and vowing to “stay above that type of dialogue.” If the senate is like the abusive husband, McCrory is playing the role of abused wife who protects her abuser and blames the social workers and cops for her misery. Maybe McCrory really doesn’t believe in anything.

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