Justine Miller jmiller@mcclatchy.com
Justine Miller jmiller@mcclatchy.com

Mark Washburn

Eleven nice words to describe the reign of Gov. McCrory

November 11, 2016 05:08 PM

He worked wonders.

That will be the political legacy left behind for Gov. Pat McCrory if provisional ballots fail to give him enough oomph to overcome the 5,000-vote margin by which he trails Roy Cooper.

Amazing: He led the state in the Happy-Days-Are-Here-Again post-recession boom only to become the first N.C. governor to ever lose re-election.

Astonishing: He lost both his home county, Mecklenburg, and the county where he grew up, Guilford, by wide margins.

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Miraculous: He was unable to carry a single urban county.

Incredible: Elected as a Republican moderate at a time when the party was moving toward the extreme right, he was seen as one who would bring consensus leadership – as he had as Charlotte mayor – to the treacherous political cross-currents dividing the state.

Turn-around artist: Instead, he fell in league with a variety of schemes sinking the state’s image as the progressive dynamo of the New South.

Stupendous: In a state that once struggled to overcome the excesses of its Jim Crow era, he became a staunch defender of voting-rights revisions that targeted African-American voters, a federal court said, “with surgical precision.”

Fantastical: When the legislature swooped in to put Charlotte’s airport, a golden goose municipal asset, under the authority of an independent commission, he stood idly by in a “not my problem” stupor.

Innovative: He arrogantly ignored a groundswell movement opposed to tolls on Interstate 77 to Lake Norman, backing a lease with a Spanish corporation to gouge motorists for passage to one of the state’s fastest-growing regions on one of its most-clogged arteries for 50 years.

Phenomenal: He backed, signed and defended HB2, a law cooked up to address a problem that didn’t exist, which immediately cost the state national sporting events, corporate expansions and its inclusive image.

Charitable: Billions of dollars were available from the federal government to help underwrite health insurance to the poor. He refused it. During the economic recovery, he led the state as it became first in the nation to cancel long-term federal unemployment benefits.

Enlightening: North Carolina’s university system, the single-most powerful engine in the state’s long climb to prosperity and nationally admired for its excellence, wilted during the McCrory years. Teacher salaries for secondary schools remain distantly behind most other states. Teacher assistants have been cut.

We’ve had governors synonymous with good roads, good schools, periods of social and educational progress. McCrory’s legacy so far is an era of bitter disappointment.

Now his political fate rests on a pile of provisional ballots.

No wonder.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007, @WashburnChObs