Last week was full of bad news for the embattled Department of Health and Human Services and its leader, Secretary Aldona Wos. The Department sent 49,000 letters containing personal information to the wrong people. The U. S. Department of Agriculture threatened to cut off funding if DHHS didn’t get a grip on distributing food stamps. Through it all, Pat McCrory continued to defend Wos, blaming outside forces and past administrations for the current problems.
The news media, though, is not buying it. Editorials in the The Greensboro News and Record, News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer were harsh. Democratic legislators, including the Legislative Black Caucus, called for Wos to go.
From the Republican side, though, the silence has been deafening. Nobody from the leadership is asking any tough questions but nobody is really defending Wos either. As we enter into an election year, Wos poses a problem for those Republicans running for re-election.
Do she and her Department become a liability? If so, can Republicans criticize her without criticizing the Governor, her staunchest defender? If they don’t criticize her or offer some sort of fix, are they ignoring problems that are hurting people and wasting taxpayer money (as a former mail guy, I can tell you 49,000 pieces of mail is not cheap)?
Finally, do they embrace the beleaguered governor or run from him? Embracing McCrory embraces his problems. Running from the first Republican elected governor in 20 years sends the message that the GOP might not be up to governing. Why elect more of them?
Republicans still have some time, but they better figure out what to do with Wos and DHHS soon or face a serious weight around their necks next 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 >