As his hopes and his days dwindle down to a precious few, you almost feel sorry for Pat McCrory.
It has to be hard being the first North Carolina Governor to lose a reelection race. He couldn’t do what Jim Hunt, Jim Martin, Jim Hunt again and Mike Easley did. Bev Perdue was a one-termer, but she wasn’t run out. She walked out and left the door wide open for McCrory in 2012.
It has to be hard being one of few, if any, Republicans to lose a statewide race in the South, despite Trump carrying North Carolina by almost four percentage points.
It had to be hard Election Night, watching all those states go red for Trump, watching his fellow Republicans celebrate their wins here and, for several hours, believing he was winning. Then – boom! – Durham County came in.
Above all, it has to be hard thinking back to the night of March 23. That day, the legislature had rushed through House Bill 2. Few people had even seen the bill, and almost nobody knew what was in it.
McCrory had a choice as he sat in the Executive Mansion that night. He could sign it, or he could sit on it, give himself more time, hear from more people, learn more about the bill and make a more thoughtful decision.
Some Republicans urged him to take his time. But legislative leaders pushed him to sign the bill that night. Do it quickly, they said; it’s like pulling off a band-aid.
He ripped off the band-aid. The bleeding started. And it never stopped.
That one decision, made in haste late at night, cost McCrory reelection.
He can blame the legislature, and he probably does. But in the end, he signed the bill and sealed his fate. He was the Decider.
It’s a master lesson in the art of governing.
My email pal Edward from Down East – I’m not certain of his party, but I’m certain he’s more conservative than me – summed up McCrory pretty well:
“This whole post-election circus being perpetrated by McCrory et al is symptomatic of his entire term as Governor: thin-skinned, unable to accept when mistakes were made, in fact digging in/doubling down in the face of clear evidence of a poor decision/poor policy.
“I don’t know the inner workings of McCrory’s team, but early on it appeared he was getting bad advice, politically and otherwise. They acted like it was their first rodeo. And, boy, Phil Berger and company showed them how the game in Raleigh was played.
“People I’d talk to would say about McCrory and his team, ‘They’re new to state government, but they’ll figure it out.’ They never did….I don’t think he’s a bad guy, far from it. But he never understood Raleigh and it showed and the voters showed him the door.”