It’s pretty clear — from the background conversations I am having — that things are a bit frosty between the governor’s office and many of the Republican honorables on Jones Street. A lot of the problem seems to be rooted in a lack of communication.
Legislators are being told one thing by McCrory’s staff about the governor’s policy positions, and then are hearing something totally different from the governor in media coverage. For a long time, it’s been a professional courtesy for legislators to be consulted when appointments are made within their districts. Some legislators are telling me that they are hearing about appointment decisions after press releases have been sent to the media. In some cases, DEMOCRATS are being appointed by the governor’s staff to positions within GOP-held legislative districts.
Things came to a head recently when Gov. Pat and Speaker Thom had a big kumbaya media event with DPI secretary June Atkinson about splitting education concerns from the rest of the proposed state budget. The problem? Neither the speaker nor the governor bothered to consult with senate leadership in the formation of this policy decision or invite them to the media event. Their proposal HAS to get Senate approval in order for it to become law. Miss June has NO VOTE on Jones Street.
Now, Speaker Thom is out of town for secret meetings in DC — visions of a Senate seat dancing in his head, we’re sure — and Gov. Pat is whining to the media about how the senators aren’t being nice to him.
What do you expect? You work around those guys. You ambush them with this proposal at a press conference. Then you attack them for not blindly endorsing your surprise proposal? It appears Gov. Pat is getting exactly what he deserves in response to his actions.
McCrory tells John Drescher’s pet shih-tzu that he wants to be respected as a policy leader in Raleigh. Yet, who has any idea of what he is passionate about? He doesn’t talk a lot about policy ideas. And he seems to bounce around all over the place. One legislator told me about a meeting he took part in with Gov. Pat shortly after his inauguration. McCrory encouraged the group — during that meeting — to go hard after Common Core. The legislators took that as marching orders. Then, McCrory pops up in the media sounding like a Common Core fan. Now, it sounds like The Guv is swinging back toward opposing Common Core. How do you take somebody seriously as a leader when they are bouncing all over the place like a ping-pong ball?
It’s clear McCrory likes the simple, feel-good public events like those that made up much of his tenure as Charlotte mayor. Local politics typically have little to do with ideology, and there is usually very little to no hardball.
Raleigh is a whole new ball game. If you’re not going to step up as a leader, there are a whole lot of folks on Jones Street who are ready to run right over you and take your place at the front of the line.