The Art Pope myth

151492-pope-220x165t’s funny.  I hear all of this whining and gnashing-of-the-teeth from the left about “conservative bogeyman” Art Pope. He gets portrayed as some kind of crusading right-winger with deep pockets ready to revolutionize North Carolina and America. From what I’ve observed — up close and from afar — is that he is simply just another deep-pocketed guy who likes having people pay attention to him.  Actually, not that different from Donald Trump. 

My one and only contact with Mr. Pope was a phone call, about a dozen years ago, about a political campaign we both had an interest in.  I was actually in the midst of the political battleground in question.  I, and others around me, had the inside knowledge.  But he was the field general — sitting in Raleigh.  We were going to do it HIS WAY — (if we wanted his cash).

He ended up saddling us with an “adviser” I later found out was a close personal friend of THE Jim Black. (So close that this “adviser” got quoted in the driveby media praising Black post-arrest.) 

In 2004, Pope spearheaded an effort to oust the conspirators in the Jim Black-Richard Morgan junta running the NC House.  It wasn’t based on ideology.  notelectpopeRichard Morgan and some of his allies had rubbed Pope the wrong way — and this was PAYBACK.   Pope’s efforts that year blessed us with the presence of Nelson Dollar in the House.

In 2012, Pope was an early backer of the very non-ideological Charlotte mayor’s campaign for governor.  Barack Obama swept back into power, but Pat McCrory made it to Blount Street.  Like George and Weezy, Art Pope was movin’ on up. 

Mr. Pope was a loyal soldier for McCrory — even stepping out to defend some of the Charlottean’s less-than-conservative policies.   We even learned that his family’s business had NO PROBLEM feasting at the corporate welfare trough. 

This year, while outside the administration, Pope shamelessly joined the lie-filled promotion of ConnectNChelping to stretch the truth about that spending boondoggle like a rubber band. 

Also, in 2016, Pope was an unabashed backer of Marco Rubio for President — to the tune of $250,000.  *Never mind that Rubio was singing the praises of amnesty for illegals while the GOP base was screaming ‘Hell No’ to that prospect.*

Now, we’re learning this: 

[…] Take Art Pope, a deep-pocketed donor who’s made a mark on North Carolina politics. Pope said in an interview that he’s a delegate for Rubio, who dropped out of the race after losing to Trump in his home state Tuesday, and will go to the Republican convention uncommitted. 

“I’m not making a decision about who I’m supporting now,” Pope said. “Regardless of who the nominee for president is, I will very much focus my efforts on legislative races.”

Pope has a long history in North Carolina politics. He backed the Republican takeover of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion, and also helped defeat Democratic Senator Kay Hagan in 2014. He said he is concerned about the impact a Trump nomination could have on the campaigns of Senator Richard Burr and North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory. Both face tough contests in November. Fitzcryin-eyes-closed

Pope, who’s a member of the network of conservative donors headed by Charles and David Koch, gave $250,000 to Conservative Solutions PAC, the super-PAC that backed Rubio. Pope said he had no regrets about backing the Florida senator and is now taking a wait-and-see approach. […] 

Why didn’t we see this kind of hand-wringing over John McCain or Mitt Romney?

The impact?  Trump has been credited with boosting GOP turnout at the polls.  In 2012, McCrory cruised to victory over Democrat Walter Dalton while Obama was spanking Romney at the presidential level.   The presidential race sure didn’t affect McCrory that year.  In fact, in 2012, McCrory had negligble — if any — political coattails.  (Dan Forest sneaked into the lieutenant governor’s office by the hair of his chinny-chin-chin.) 

What should concern Pope — and people like him — is Burr and McCrory’s thumbing-of-the-nose at the party’s base.  Burr pulled 61 percent in the primary against three lesser-known and lesser-funded challengers.  NOT VERY IMPRESSIVE for a two term US senator seeking his third. Roy Cooper is out-fundraising McCrory, and I am not hearing a trump1whole lot of excitement here in the grassroots for four more years of Pat McCrory.   (The nonsense at NCGOP HQ can’t be helpful to those two ticket leaders either.) 

Instead of trying to further muck up the presidential nomination process, Pope should be focusing his energy and influence in a positive direction.  Show some leadership on the discord at NCGOP HQ.  Help push McCrory and the legislative leadership back onto a conservative track.  It looks like the GOP is going to have to deal with Trump on the ticket.  Why not try to sell him on the right’s agenda?  The left has clearly antagonized the man.  He appears to be ripe for a sale. 

Throwing in with the GOPe is a big mistake on Mr. Pope’s part.  It’s fun to soothe and stroke one’s ego.  But he has incredible personal and financial resources to help guide this state and country back on the right track.  Does preserving your standing invites to the “right” cocktail parties trump saving the state and nation’s economies for future generations? 

We’re in real danger of having a whole lot of GOP voters sit home on election day, if the GOPe monkey business persists.  Four million folks who voted for John McCain didn’t show up in 2012 for Mitt Romney.. Just imagine the possibilities if the GOPe thumbs its nose at the grassroots ONE MORE TIME.