A tendency to use the government bureaucracy to snoop on and intimidate perceived opponents. An enemy’s list. Screaming fits at press aides regarding his coverage. Campaigning as a conservative, but governing as a statist. No real ideological moorings,
That’s how a lot of people would describe the late president Richard Milhous Nixon. A lot of that could easily apply to our state’s current Republican governor.
Pat McCrory does have one advantage that I’m sure Nixon had in his time. He has his own media outlet owned and operated by campaign contributors and loyalists, ready to disseminate his reelection campaign’s opposition research. (Considering how long it takes for regular folks to get information out of state government, it is *AMAZING* how quickly Jones + Blount manage to get it.)
The latest smear attempt by state-run media involves the governor’s nascent primary challenge from former state Rep. Robert Brawley. Brawley has little name ID outside of the Charlotte area, and has little money. But like Nixon did with little-known senator George McGovern in 1972, McCrory has decided to go nuclear.
First off, the governor’s crew tried to cast Brawley — a respectable conservative during his two tours in the state House — as a crony of Jim Black. Never mind that McCrory has publicly described Jim Hunt as his “mentor” and that video exists showing McCrory giving love to Jim Black that ol’ Pat stops just short of licking the felonious former speaker’s face.
We’ve also had a smattering of CharMeck GOP loyalists going out of their way to publicly attack Brawley personally — questioning his ethics and morality.
We also appear to be overlooking the close relationship between the governor, his brother and former Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon — who was last seen being hauled off by the FBI to federal prison on bribery-related charges.
Now, we’re apparently trying to paint Brawley as a pal of child molesters. “[…]Brawley tried to get prison time reduced for convicted child molester […]” screamed the headline on state-run media. (Our friends at The Plotthound were not much better — running with “Brawley wanted sentence reduced for child molester.)
What is really going on? Well, I read deep into state-run medias account:
[…] The emails show that Brawley tried to have the inmate, John Thomas Patterson, moved closer to the Mooresville area or have his sentence reduced. Brawley wrote the original email from his personal account and had his legislative assistant forward it to Ryan Combs, legislative liaison for the N.C. Department of Public Safety. Combs authenticated the emails Thursday. […]
“John Patterson is a friend of mine and a great teacher,” Brawley wrote in one email sent in September 2014. “Can we find a way to help him? Either moving him closer to Mooresville, where his family is or reducing his sentence?”
[…] Patterson was convicted in 2014 of first degree sexual offense with a child, a crime that carries a mandatory life sentence in North Carolina. According to Amy Dyson, a detective in the Iredell County sheriff’s office, Patterson was a fourth grade teacher who was prominent in the Mooresville community, especially at a local Presbyterian church, where he played piano and served in leadership positions. He was also convicted of 86 counts of indecent liberties with a child, each of which resulted in three-year sentences.
[…] He is serving a life sentence plus more than 250 years in a prison in Bertie County.
”[…]When Combs, the legislative liaison, informed Brawley of the severity of Patterson’s crimes and the fact that multiple victims’ families requested he be kept far from the Mooresville area, Brawley allowed that he had not considered the victims.
Saying his objective was to keep families together, Brawley wrote that “perhaps I was a bit thoughtless not to think about the possible affects [sic] on the victims [sic] family. Tommy was a friend growing up and we have mutual friends who would like to help but the victims [sic] family should receive first consideration. Again thank you and this ends my involvement.” […]
“TRIED”, huh? This sounds more like inquiring on behalf of constituents — and then stopping once he got an answer. (It’s not like harassing bureaucrats to keep your friend’s prison maintenance contract or towing contract alive.)
It’s a tried and true tactic by political pros to blitz primary opponents early on — to damage them so severely that they never prove to be competitive. That’s probably what’s going on here.
However, Team McCrory should view the Brawley challenge as the personification of the governor’s problem with his party’s base. Hitting Brawley harder than he has ever hit Bev Perdue, Jim Black, Walter Dalton or Roy Cooper is not going to help fix it.
I am sure there is a lot of “where else are they gonna go?” sentiment within the governor’s reelection campaign. (As I am sure there was in Mitt Romney and John McCain’s presidential campaigns.)
People can stay home. They can leave ballot lines blank. McCrory won a lot of Democrat support in 2012 because — in many cases — his record was to the left of Walter Dalton’s (education, for instance). McCrory has been raking in campaign dollars from Democrats, and appointing them to all kinds of state boards and commissions. He’s facing a much more conventional Democrat in Roy Cooper in 2016.
Does he really think all of his new D-buddies are going to stick with him and not run to Roy? And how bad would that defection hurt coupled with losing 10-20 percent of the GOP base vote in November over a vicious primary campaign?