The tale of the tape: Rabon’s rant makes public tensions between Gov, House & Senate

legislatureThe media and The Moral Monday crowd like to paint the GOP majority in Raleigh as a juggernaut working in sync to ram through a conservative agenda.  WRAL made some hay out recent remarks by state senator Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) to constituents about some puppy mill legislation.  The TV station focused on Rabon’s blunt language.  But the real story for me was that something that has been lurking in the shadows is now in plain view: There is a heightened level of frustration among the members of the state senate GOP caucus regarding Gov. Pat McCrory and state House GOP leaders. 

I’ve had numerous off-the-record and background conversations with senators — backbenchers and leaders alike. A common theme keeps emerging:  We come up with conservative proposals, and Pat and Thom throw us under the bus.

Let’s cue up WRAL’s account of Rabon’s comments about the puppy mill legislation pushed by first lady Ann McCrory:

[…] Rabon, who did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, used an obscene term to refer to House lawmakers for passing the legislation.

“We were informed that that bill would never leave the House,” he said. “They [the House] are a bunch of (expletive). They got political heat. They said, ‘We can no longer sit on this. We know the Senate will not pass it because it’s a piece of crap, so we’ll send it to them, and they’ll take the heat.’ Ladies and gentlemen, that is politics 101.” […]

I’ve heard similar language from other senators regarding tax reform, voter ID, gas tax cut, Medicaid expansion,  and other similar types of legislation. One senator relayed a story to me about how the House rammed through a gas tax cut that was too steep — given the amount of spending that had already taken place.  The legislation was sent over to the Senate late in the session.  The Senate did not pass the bill out of concern for being able to pay the bills. As a result, the House got to look like conservatives and point fingers at the Senate as tax-cut killers.

In the media, McCrory and Tillis publicly questioned legislative efforts to refuse to fund ObamaCare exchanges, require voter ID, and reform the state tax code.  The legislature eventually stood strong on ObamaCare, but we got watered-down versions of voter ID and tax reform.

I think Rabon went a little too far in accusing Mrs. McCrory of law-breaking.  Another maxim from politics 101: Never attack a nice looking lady who typically gets photographed hugging cute little puppies.

Senator Tom Apodaca also threw in his two cents on this story — accusing the person who recorded Rabon’s remarks of criminality.  Really?  It was an open, public meeting between a legislator and constituents.  The media was there.  

(Apodaca — Mr. Bail Bond Monopoly — has some nerve questioning someone else’s ethics.)  

Another maxim of politics 101:  If you’re a public figure speaking in front of an audience, assume that every word you utter is being recorded. Don’t say anything in that environment that you would not want to see in a campaign ad, on WRAL, or in a McClatchy publication.