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Democratic Governor. GOP Legislature. A look at what may come

Worth your time today: The New York Times’ Trip Gabriel takes a look at the possible future of North Carolina’s new political reality:  a Democratic governor and a Republican legislature.

The consensus among experts: It’s going to be tough road for Cooper, but not impossible.

From the piece:

Still, it is not yet clear that Cooper is condemned to four years of disdain in which Republicans in the General Assembly pass laws he is powerless to stop, while ensuring that his own initiatives land with the thud of a doorstop.

Stymied by hostile lawmakers, he has other options for advancing his priorities, if the experiences of fellow members of his new club, both Democrats and Republicans in other states, are a guide.

“Governors that know what they’re doing can get a lot done,” said Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri, a Democrat who has faced implacable opposition from Republican supermajorities in his state Legislature. “You have to be able to take a hit,” he added. “You can’t let ‘em see you sweat.”

Governors outgunned by veto-proof majorities in their legislatures have successfully used the bully pulpit of their office, going over the heads of part-time lawmakers to directly appeal to citizens.

Other times, governors have profited from a basic law of politics: They are usually more popular than legislative bodies, whose job favorability is little higher than that of perpetrators of Ponzi schemes.

Nixon knows what he’s talking about.

Nixon, who is leaving office next month after serving the maximum two terms, may be the closest parallel to Cooper. His opponents have brought impeachment proceedings against him, and they made him the most overridden governor in Missouri history, reversing 96 of his vetoes.

Some overrides were so small-bore that lawmakers seemed to be having sport with the governor, such as upholding a law he vetoed to exempt yoga classes from sales tax. Others struck at the core of Nixon’s political being, like reversing his veto of a voter ID bill and another eliminating background checks to obtain a concealed gun permit.

“These guys tried to run up the numbers,” he said of lawmakers, who would hold marathon sessions on a single day to cancel out his vetoes.

But Nixon also showed how to post successes by using the visibility and prominence of his office.

Three years ago, he barnstormed Missouri to oppose a Republican tax cut he had vetoed, arguing it would carve deeply into schools. He rallied grass-roots support, and his veto was sustained.

In addition to being his state’s most overridden governor, he said, “I also have the record for the most sustained vetoes. I’ve had 283 sustained.”

Read the whole piece, which also looks at the successes of popular Republican governors in the deep blue states of Maryland and Massachusetts.

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