Governor-elect Pay McCrory just concluded his first Raleigh press conference since his election on Tuesday. All in all, it was a relatively smooth performance in which he avoided controversial topics, got mostly easy questions and did his best to project an image of action, frugality and, for lack of a better word, “down-to-earthness.”
All in all, he gets a B.
There were only a few red flag moments that stood out:
1) McCrory quickly seemed over his head on health care reform and the matter of implementing a state-based exchange. All he could muster was that the matter was complex, that he needed to study it and confer with Governor Perdue, and that Washington was failing to provide adequate guidance. This last point is, in a word, baloney. Other states are already well on their way to implementing reform and are getting all the help they need. Let’s hope this comment was just left-over campaign rhetoric and that his appointment of UNC Health Care’s Kelly Nicholson as “Policy Director” of his transition signifies that he will take the matter more seriously than he did during the campaign.
2) Art Pope’s presence. The controversial, right-wing mastermind was standing just to McCrory’s left during the event. When asked about it during the conference by a reporter, all the Guv-elect could do was mouth platitudes about what a great guy and businessperson Pope is, while never really explaining his role. He also alleged that Pope had a “great relationship” with Governor Perdue. Really? Let’s hope McCrory had Pope there as more of a figurehead token to the far right rather than in a position of genuine influence.
3) The presence of other Pope people including former Pope-Civitaser Thomas Stith (who McCrory called the “CEO” of his transition). Still remains to be seen how much power Stith will wield, but this is also worrisome.
Bottom line: Things are just getting started and we should all hope for the best. But no one should hold their breath waiting for North Carolina’s Governor-elect to chart a moderate course.