First, it was Thom Tillis who told us he could represent the people of his legislative district, serve as speaker of the House, AND run for the US Senate all without any problem — ethical or otherwise. Now comes word that Attorney General Cooper — nine months into his current term — plans to run for governor in 2016.
Those two facts guarantee that everything these two do from here forward will be with an eye on 2014 and 2016. How can you serve effectively as the attorney for the state when your agenda involves tearing the executive branch a new one every chance you get over the next four years? We’ve got court fights coming up over the marriage amendment and the voter ID law. Cooper’s public comments trashing both will surely provide fodder for the plaintiffs in those cases. How effective inside-the-courtroom can you expect your counsel to be when he’s spent hours on end telling everyone who will listen how guilty you are?
What can we expect from the state House when its top official has made it clear that (1) this is his last session in Raleigh, and (2) his focus is on a six-year stay in DC? How much boldness can we expect from a leader whose decision making process will likely be guided by his Senate campaign pollster and his bundlers? We already got a bunch of folks ramrodded through the legislature and onto the UNC Board of Governors who also — by coincidence, I’m sure — are major players / donors in the Tillis for Senate campaign.
The situations these guys are in are akin to the high school senior — who has already been accepted into college — on his last day of high school, or the employee — who has already accepted another job — hanging around the office for his final two weeks. They know they’re gone. They know they can do pretty much what they want, and there is very little anyone can do to hold them accountable.
Both of these guys — since they’ve made their intentions clear — need to step down. Let someone else — committed to the job and interested in serving someone other than HIMSELF — take over.
What they’re doing is the moral equivalent of one of your employees — in your business — job hunting while on the clock for your company.
I admired Bob Dole for his military service. I also admired his decision in 1996 to step down as Senate majority leader to focus full-time on running for president. (The level of admiration takes a steep drop from there.)
I don’t expect these guys to suddenly experience an attack of conscience. It’s so much easier to get free media attention when you are an incumbent officeholder. But you should show some respect for your friends, neighbors and constituents by pursuing your self-centered political ambitions on your own dime.