McCrory Working To Turn Fixer Slogan Into Practice
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Pat McCrory's pledge to repair what he called North Carolina's broken government was the keystone of his gubernatorial campaign.
From big-picture items of education and taxes to more everyday matters such as getting permits and a driver's license, the former Charlotte mayor portrayed himself on the campaign trail as running to become the state's chief fixer.
Now that McCrory has won, the first GOP governor in 20 years and other Republicans have a lot riding on him to make improvements and meet goals he's already laid out to show the public that party leaders can effectively govern.
While he's provided few details, McCrory has said he wants to reduce income tax rates to levels of those in surrounding states, bring the state unemployment rate below South Carolina's within a year and, in his view, make citizens and businesses feel more appreciated. He expressed at a debate last month the frustrations about waiting in a long line at the DMV.
"North Carolina is our customer, and our goal is to fix the economy and try to make government as efficient and responsive to our customers and possible," McCrory said last week after he won.
Meeting those goals will depend on the people McCrory surrounds himself with to run his administration and his relationships with Republicans in charge of the Legislature.
"We're going to have a judgment on him in the next year or two," Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University, said Monday. McCrory, Taylor added, offered some "yardsticks to measure his performance by tangible goals."
McCrory gave a sneak peek of how he'll govern when he rolled out the names of those helping him form his administration that will begin in January when he takes the oath of office. The nearly two-dozen team members he revealed at a news conference were nearly all Republicans and some unknown to Raleigh's political scene. They included allies from his days as mayor, former elected officials, business leaders and conservative activists.
McCrory said he's sought advice from former GOP Govs. Jim Holshouser and Jim Martin, but he's also talked with Democratic governors, including the outgoing Beverly Perdue and her predecessor Mike Easley.
McCrory "will continue to seek advice and counsel from individuals in both parties with various experiences and backgrounds who can provide insight into ways to fix North Carolina's broken economy, broken government and unleash the private sector to create jobs," said Ricky Diaz, the governor-elect's spokesman.
Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, said he's not surprised that McCrory is putting Republicans around him. After all, Nesbitt said, this is the first time since 1993 the GOP has had executive branch control. But Nesbitt said he also expects Democrats will end up in key positions in McCrory's administration because they have experience in government. No Cabinet secretaries have been announced.
Part of McCrory's "broken government" argument focused on ending a string of recent political scandals that mostly involved Democrats. Ran Coble, executive director of the nonpartisan North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research, said all governors have controversies but that McCrory's commitment to a culture of ethics in government "will put special pressure on him not to have scandals in his administration."
McCrory does have a deeper bench of legislators and other conservative-leaning policy makers than Holshouser and Martin did because Republicans have governed more recently, Coble said. But with Martin leaving office in 1993, McCrory will have few people with experience running large state agencies.
McCrory, who worked at Duke Energy Corp. for nearly 30 years, seems to be taking a business leader's approach to governing, which isn't surprising. The last governor to have that much business experience was Democrat Luther Hodges in the 1950s.
"What we need in the governor's mansion right now is a manager and I think we have one (in McCrory) that will do well," said GOP former Rep. Jeff Barnhart, a former IBM engineer and current registered lobbyist.
McCrory said he wants to focus first upon improving customer service and efficiency within the departments of transportation, commerce and environment. He also wants to work on improving accountability within public education.
A new state law will give McCrory the opportunity to hire hundreds of additional state workers within his administration than Perdue did. He'll also be able to influence policy quickly through early-term appointments to the State Board of Education.
"I like to help set the vision" then put together teams to "make that happen," McCrory said last week. "As mayor that what's I did. Almost every successful thing we did during my tenure as mayor for 14 years was a team effort."