McCrory and leadership

I had a really fun conversation with a reporter earlier this week (no article out yet) about Pat McCrory that really got me thinking about his governorship in many ways.  I admitted to being honestly surprised at his many needless mistakes, as during campaign time he struck me as a very savvy politician.  The kind who didn’t regularly shoot himself in the foot by saying stupid things– especially things that are obviously illogical or obviously untrue.  And, I did not have a strong position on his “leadership” but I don’t think any half-honest observer would even try to argue that McCrory has been a strong leader as governor.  In fact, Gary Pearce and the Greensoboro News & Record have fairly compelling indictments of McCrory’s leadership today.  Pearce:

Every day I say: Today I won’t pick on Governor McCrory. Then he does something so boneheaded I can’t resist.
Like his parting shots at the legislature. He looked like the 98-pound weakling sticking out his tongue long after the bully who kicked sand in his face walked down the beach.
The legislature made quick work this week of his two vetoes. Then the Governor said that, notwithstanding his oath of office, he wouldn’t carry out one law and would work around the other. And he came up with a “solution” to the teachers masters’ degree debacle that even his own Board of Education chairman said won’t work and that his communications director and education adviser couldn’t explain
Senate leaders shot back. “It seems a little instrument called the state constitution is being ignored,” said Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said, “All governors, without regard to party, swear an oath to uphold the constitution. We expect Gov. McCrory to perform his constitutional duty to enforce the law.”
When McCrory called the drug-testing bill an “unfunded mandate,” Apodaca had this memorable line: “Well, I guess you could cut a few salaries and find the money to put into this program.”
Point, set and match, Apodaca…
Here’s some free advice to the Governor: You could have spoken out during the session on the bills you complain about now. You could have put money for teachers with masters’ degree in your budget. You could have vetoed the budget if it was so bad.
You could have been a leader and not a 98-pound weakling who gets bullied.

The problem is that the legislature passes the budget. McCrory’s statement strongly criticized legislators for inserting last-minute education policy changes into that budget — but he signed it into law six weeks ago without a word of complaint.

What’s happened? As McCrory signed one controversial bill after another, his approval ratings fell. He hitched himself to an unpopular legislature — or was pushed around by it. Wednesday, he tried to create some distance.

He should have done so sooner and with more consequential legislation, such as voting changes or education funding. He should have commanded more respect among legislators of both parties and headed off bad proposals before a veto was necessary.

Maybe Wednesday marked a turnaround for McCrory but, so far, this first-year governor is almost impossible to figure out.

Yep.  That’s what the reporter and I struggled with.  What exactly is McCrory thinking?  Whatever political strategy is involved here is sure not a good one.  Though, it seems less strategy, and more just flailing around.  I read one defense of McCrory that suggested he agreed with almost everything that passed.  But does anybody really think that would have been the case if his own preference did not happen to coincide with those of the legislative leaders?  McCrory’s got three years to get his act together before he’s up for reelection, but he clearly has a lot of getting together he needs to do.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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