Wednesday, August 24, 2011

McCrory's 'Not enough stimulus spending' view could rile conservative supporters

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 2:46 PM

In this week’s issue of CL, I pointed out an under-publicized rift among N.C. Republicans concerning Pat McCrory’s quest to be the next governor. Some members of the party’s far right wing have stated that McCrory — the odds-on favorite to run against Gov. Perdue in 2012 — is too liberal and too invested in government planning for their tastes. They’ve made it clear they would welcome a more conservative candidate challenging McCrory for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, although no one has yet come forward to make their dreams come true.

McCrory and his strongest backers, including House Speaker Thom Tillis of Mecklenburg County, say there is no rift; McCrory hasn’t been trying to move farther to the right to appease his critics; and in general, we shouldn’t pay any attention to those tea partiers behind the curtain. The denial that there are philosophical differences between McCrory and the tea party crowd is, it seems to this writer, the political equivalent of whistling past the graveyard.

Case in point: The gap between the far right’s emphasis on “free market forces” and McCrory’s belief in robust government planning was never clearer than during a recent meeting of the Lake Norman Transportation Commission. McCrory was there to discuss the future of transit funding, but according to, which covered the meeting, the former Charlotte mayor spoke about the effects of the federal government's stimulus spending, normally a major tea party concern:

“the nation is feeling a negative impact from the nearly $1 trillion stimulus package that the government offered to help boost the economy in the past few years. The problem is that less than 20 percent of the money has been spent, he said. ‘The concept of shovel-ready is a disaster,” he said. “Most projects weren’t shovel ready, and those that were were already budgeted,’ he said. Those that did get built were quick hit projects such as road repaving, not long-range projects that required architecture and planning.”

Hmm. So the problem with the stimulus, according to McCrory, is that not enough money has been spent yet. Mr. Former Mayor, that’s not exactly what the tea party’s “no-spending-no-planning-no-pork” folks want to hear from a potential governor. McCrory’s moment of forthrightness at the Davidson meeting could very well be proof that, as he claims, he really doesn’t temper his statements to please the far right. Which is fine, of course. But to deny that there is a gap between his vision of government’s role and the far right’s fondness for a laissez-faire approach seems more and more like a denial of the obvious.

Former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory
  • Former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory

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