Monday, June 1, 2015

Governor's vetoes have a strategic purpose

Gov. Pat McCrory has vetoed two bills passed by the General Assembly, a legislature dominated by members of his own Republican party. The vetoes came on two bills that were pushed by Republican conservatives and opposed by liberals, including many Democrats in the General Assembly. One bill provides harsh civil penalties for employees who photograph or video activities at a job site — a bill aimed at animal rights advocates and whistle blowers who report on unethical or unseemly practices in farms and slaughterhouses but also applying to virtually any business in the state. The other bill allows state and local employees to opt out of performing marriages when the employee cites religious conviction for refusing to do the job.

What gives? Has McCrory gone bleeding heart on his GOP comrades?

Not at all. What is happening is the approach of 2016, just seven months away, when McCrory will almost certainly seek a second term and will almost certainly face a serious Democratic opponent, most likely Attorney General Roy Cooper. Unlike his GOP colleagues who can feel safe in passing bills opposed by a majority of North Carolina voters, McCrory won't be protected by a gerrymandered district that almost guarantees a Republican victory. McCrory will have to run statewide, where the electorate is more diverse and a good deal less conservative than the well-protected members of the legislature.

McCrory has been around the block enough times to know that he will need not only the conservative, GOP base but also the moderate Democrats and independent voters who hold the key to statewide elections. If he's going to win those moderate voters, he's going to have to distinguish himself from the more conservative GOP legislators. The most notable and newsworthy way of doing that is to veto a few bills.

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