BATTLEGROUND: The North Carolina Capitol in Raleigh.
Almost a month after the election, Democrats scored a victory this morning when North Carolina Republican Pat McCrory conceded this morning
in that state's gubernatorial race.
Gov. McCrory and his allies alleged voter fraud around the state, but the state board of elections (which is GOP-controlled) has dismissed such complaints. Although the margin between Democrat Roy Cooper
and McCrory remains slender, it's not close enough for McCrory to request a statewide recount.
Perhaps the most important issue in the race was HB 2
, the state's infamous "bathroom bill," which targeted transgender people and became a rallying cry against the Republican governor. Such a bill is very likely to emerge in the Arkansas legislature this session.
Donald Trump carried North Carolina
, and incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, also won re-election handily. So exactly what accounts for McCrory's defeat? It's another question to add to the ongoing debate on the left about where exactly to place the blame for the debacle that was the 2016 election.
At the Atlantic, Vann Newkirk recently made a convincing case
that "identity politics" — that object of increasingly universal scorn on the left
, on the right
and in the center
— was behind the coalition that won the state for Cooper. That perspective is somewhat at odds with my own Bernie-sympathizing instincts post-election, but it's a valuable read:
From its beginnings, that protest movement in North Carolina has been forged over concerns that don’t fit neatly along the lines of class or party ideology. When I went to Raleigh to report on the “Moral Movement” that forms its core, the first thing that I noticed was the diversity of the crowds. They included not just the standard liberal spectrum touted on stage at the Democratic National Convention, but also older, whiter longtime Republicans from the most rural parts of the state. ...
At the center of that movement, however, was neither a class-first neo-Marxian in the vein of Sanders nor a triangulating universalist in the vein of Clinton, but the state NAACP, a group that has never been accused of eschewing identity politics. The North Carolina NAACP, its president Reverend William J. Barber II, and a collection of affiliated clergy members became natural leaders in state protests following a Republican takeover at the state level which enabled Republican lawmakers to pass a sweeping slate of regressive reforms, including an assault on voting rights that has since been found by courts to be naked racial discrimination—but might presage larger voter suppression efforts in Trump’s looming presidency.
Their “Moral Movement” expanded its ranks not by appealing to a class-based ethos, but by casting economic, social, and political issues as moral dilemmas and emphasizing empathy. “When we started in 2007, there were 1.6 million poor people in North Carolina,” Barber says. “That’s a moral issue. We had not had a raise in the minimum wage. We did not have health care. We needed to strengthen our civil-rights laws in this state.” Though the voter suppression laws put the political focus squarely on questions of race, the Moral Movement managed to both explicitly address its racial animus while simultaneously expanding its reach beyond people of color.