#ncpol: A primary for Pat

brawHe was never a go-along get-along kind of guy. He frequently called out colleagues — Republican and Democrat — when he saw them doing what he perceived was unethical, wrong, or illegal.  He refused to play the game, and got run out office by establishment insiders.

Former legislator Robert Brawley of Iredell County — a veteran of two tours in the North Carolina House — is setting his sights a little higher in 2016:

Six weeks after announcing that he would try to win back his seat in the N.C. House of Representatives in 2016, Robert Brawley has decided to go after a much bigger prize.        

Driven by his opposition to the toll lanes plan for I-77, the longtime Mooresville insurance agent said he will become a candidate for governor today, filing the necessary paperwork to oppose incumbent Pat McCrory in the March 15 Republican primary.         

Why play the higher stakes political game?        

“As I looked at running for the House again, people kept bringing up issues that are statewide issues,” he told the Mooresville Tribune on Tuesday before heading to Raleigh to meet with a political consultant in preparation for putting his name on the GOP primary ballot with McCrory.        […]

Throughout the toll lanes controversy, Brawley grew in his criticism of McCrory and the state’s approval of the I-77 project, which Brawley believes is an illegal contract. “The other side of the toll roads issue is that there are a lot of things in Raleigh that are done in the back room,” Brawley said. “We need transparency in what we do in government.”       

The governor’s chair will be the third state office Brawley has sought.        

He served 19 years in the House, in two stints, and ran unsuccessfully for N.C. Insurance Commissioner in 2004. In 2012, Brawley was again elected to the House from the Iredell County-based 95th district. In May 2013, he resigned as chairman of the House Finance Committee in a dispute with House Speaker Thom Tillis, then lost to John Fraley in the May 2014 Republican House primary. […]

laughIf Brawley’s name doesn’t ring a bell, here is an excellent refresher to help catch you up.     In Raleigh, Brawley made a name for himself in calling attention to various and sundry political shenanigans.  He was vindicated by a court ruling on his claim that legislation pushed by then-speaker Thom Tillis unfairly favored the family of a Tillis loyalist in the House.  He frequently questioned the ethics of and decisions by Thom Tillis while he simultaneously ran for Senate and served as House speaker.  Tillis and his team retaliated by forcing Brawley out of his chairmanship, kicking him out of the GOP caucus, and financing a primary opponent with a lot of out-of-district and out-of-state cash. 

When you look at name ID and finances, Brawley starts of as a clear underdog.  (He doesn’t have a bureaucracy under his control that he can use as leverage in shaking people down for big contributions.) 

But if Brawley can raise his name ID statewide and land some solid hits on McCrory about his straying from the party platform, he might be able to attract some surprisingly high levels of attention in the GOP primary.  Since his time as mayor of Charlotte, McCrory has had a rocky relationship with conservatives.  They’ve begrudingly lined up behind him when the choice is Pat or some Democrat.  It will be interesting to see how conservatives will react when the choice is McCrory OR a conservative with state government service under his belt.