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My old boss Governor Hunt should be proud. Forty years after he first took office and 16 years after he last left, he still drives Republicans nuts.

Governor-elect Roy Cooper should be proud. He hasn’t even taken office and he’s driving them nuts.

All Democrats should grab the Christmas gift the GOP has given us. Their Christmas Coup proves that, for them, it’s always politics first and people last.

This will be the battle in 2017 – in the media, in the courts, on the House and Senate floors, in the halls, in the streets and, ultimately, at the ballot box.

A session that supposedly was about helping storm and fire victims actually was about Republicans helping themselves.

Voters don’t care about the Governor and the legislature fighting over power and patronage. But they care a lot about whether their elected officials have the right priorities.

Voters also care if, as with House Bill 2, the Christmas Coup makes North Carolina a less attractive place to do business, build companies and create jobs.

That’s why Roy Cooper won in the first place. Republican legislators are too arrogant to realize they’ve made the same mistake again.

Who wants to come to a state that’s in constant chaos because of a small group of power-hungry, revenge-obsessed, small-minded men?

They tried to gut Cooper’s powers as Governor. But they also grew his power to take this fight to the people, maybe as soon as next November.

Cooper’s response to the coup shows that he gets it – and will seize the high ground. Namely: Is this good for education, the environment, the economy and the people of North Carolina?

If Republicans really wanted to copy Jim Hunt, they’d raise teacher pay to the national average, expand early childhood education, strengthen the universities and community colleges, expand health care, upgrade the transportation system and focus on growing the economy instead of shrinking it.

Fat chance. Which opens a big hole for Governor Cooper to run through.

(One historical note. If you’re obsessed, as the Republicans are, with the mythical “Christmas Massacre” of 1976, you also could look up their own “Helicopter Firings” of 1973. Even better, you could forget what happened 40 years ago and focus on what happens the next four years.)

 

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