• 79°

Guest Opinion: Will Governor McCrory become Senator McCrory?

By Gary Pearce

Maybe you can’t stand Pat, but former Governor McCrory could be future Senator McCrory.

When McCrory announced he’ll run for the Senate next year, many of my fellow Democrats laughed – and pounced. So did Republicans.

Democrats dismissed him as the Governor who signed into law House Bill 2, the controversial transgender “bathroom bill,” and then became the first North Carolina governor to lose reelection.

Another Republican running for the Senate seat, former Congressman Mark Walker, attacked him saying: “With taking back the Senate majority hinging on our success in North Carolina, why would we gamble on Pat McCrory — a career politician who has lost more statewide races than he’s won?”

McCrory lost to Bev Perdue in the 2008 governor’s race, then soundly defeated Lt. Governor Walter Dalton in 2012 after Perdue decided – late in the campaign season – not to run again.

McCrory took shots from both parties because he interviewed for jobs in the Trump Administration after losing narrowly to Governor Roy Cooper in 2016, but didn’t get appointed.

Walker said, “If Pat wasn’t good enough for Trump’s administration, he’s not good enough for our state.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said McCrory “couldn’t even get hired by the Trump administration.”

But he could get elected Senator.

He enters the race with an advantage in name recognition, as his own campaign’s poll boasted. A Republican primary opponent will need a lot of money to overcome that.

McCrory has been mayor of Charlotte and governor. He has automatic stature.

Critics scoffed when he called himself an “outsider,” but that’s smart positioning. His campaign cited “the strength McCrory has as someone who has not served in Congress but instead has made executive-level decisions as a proven conservative.”

In other words, he’s not associated with the Washington swamp like Walker and another Congressman who might run, Ted Budd.

Lara Trump, Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, also might run. But why would she give up New York, Palm Beach and a Fox News gig? Plus, does Donald Trump want to risk his brand before 2024?

McCrory had a media gig too. He hosted “The Pat McCrory Show” on WBT radio. His campaign says that was “the top-rated talk radio show in Charlotte.”

It’s not “The Apprentice,” but it’s a big media market, especially in a Republican primary.

And he’s been a regular on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

It’s noteworthy that McCrory’s announcement didn’t mention Trump. You have to dig deep in his campaign website to find a mention of Trump. The former President is obviously a plus in the primary, but may be poison with Independents in a general election.

Senator Richard Burr, who is vacating the seat, got censured by North Carolina Republicans when he voted to impeach Trump over the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Paul Shumaker, an experienced Republican consultant who worked with both Senators Burr and Thom Tillis, is handling McCrory’s Senate race. Shumaker can provide the skilled professional hand that McCrory lost when Jack Hawke died after the 2012 election.

If McCrory wins the primary, history favors him. Republicans have won the last four Senate races in North Carolina and six of the last seven. Since the two-party era began in 1972, Republicans have won 13 Senate races and Democrats, only four.

The last North Carolinian to be elected both Governor (1960) and Senator (1986) was Terry Sanford.

Now, I knew Terry Sanford. Terry Sanford is a hero of mine. Pat McCrory is no Terry Sanford. But he could win Sanford’s old Senate seat next year – and be both a Governor and a Senator.

Gary Pearce was a reporter and editor at The News & Observer, a political consultant, and an adviser to Governor Jim Hunt (1976-1984 and 1992-2000). He blogs about politics and public policy at www.NewDayforNC.com.  

FOR MORE COLUMNS AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, CHECK OUT OUR OPINION SECTION HERE.

Crime

Vehicle clips bicycle, driver leaves the scene in Avon

Crime

Fourth arrest made in shooting death of North Carolina woman

Business

Kill Devil Hills Dairy Queen receives award for high level of cleanliness, food safety

News

Kitty Hawk Planning Board recommends approval of new four lot subdivision

News

Town Common in Manteo provides green space, parking

Lifestyles

Dare County Schools summer meals program open for all children

News

North Carolina man snags $436,064 Cash 5 jackpot

Crime

Former Ft. Bragg employee sentenced to prison, ordered to pay millions in restitution for conspiracy and stealing government property

News

Dare commissioners meet Monday

News

Weekly gas price update for North Carolina

News

UPDATED: Multiple fire crews battle early morning blaze in Kill Devil Hills

Currituck

Personal watercraft collision results in serious injury in Currituck County

News

Kill Devil Hills Police Department warns of phone scam

News

Ocracoke Express passenger ferry service starts Monday, reservations now available

News

American mink: Seldom seen on Pea Island

News

Searchers comb river for missing tubers after group goes over dam in NC

News

Teen sleeping in hammock attacked by bear in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Crime

North Carolina man convicted by federal jury of drug and firearm charges

Lifestyles

Lifeguards enjoy Lions fish fry

News

Small plane crashes near North Carolina drag strip, claiming life of pilot

Crime

North Carolina man accused of kidnapping hoax to scam grandparents

Lifestyles

The Little Free Pantry: Helping to fight hunger in Dare County

Currituck

Moyock residents share flooding concerns

News

Three dead, two missing after tubers go over North Carolina dam