What a difference a day makes.
On Tuesday morning, Gov. Pat McCrory faced a friendly audience of old friends at Charlotte Rotary‘s weekly luncheon meeting at the Fairfield Inn & Suites downtown. They gave the former Charlotte mayor two standing ovations and lobbed sympathetic questions after a brief speech in which the toughest moment came when McCrory addressed the unlikelihood of a compromise over House Bill 2. By Tuesday night, Keith Lamont Scott had been shot and killed near UNC Charlotte and protesters had taken to the streets for the first of three straight nights of unrest.
Things started so well, too. McCrory had just received word that the state unemployment rate had fallen to 4.6%. When he came into office, he said Tuesday, it was 9.4%, fifth highest in the country. For McCrory, who faces N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper in a tight re-election race in November, Tuesday’s talk was part stump speech and part defiant news conference. A bank of reporters expected McCrory to react to the Charlotte City Council’s decision the night before not to rescind its nondiscrimination ordinance passed in February. The fate of HB2 now rests with the courts, the governor said Tuesday.
Ah, HB2. It almost seems like a quaint worry now that the streets are exploding in violence. Put them together — not to mention voter ID — and it’s been a rough year so far for Gov. McCrory and North Carolina’s image. The question is what economic impact it will all have on Charlotte, until now the fresh face of a booming New South, and the rest of the state. Bank of America has closed its headquarters for a second straight day. The optics, as they say, aren’t good.
“From day one, I’ve had protesters,” McCrory said at lunchtime Tuesday, adding that it must mean he’s doing something right. He hadn’t seen anything yet.
(For a view of Charlotte from a Wall Street Journal perspective, see here.)
Featured image courtesy of the Raleigh News & Observer.