The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday January 24th

McCrory and Cooper face off in gubernatorial debate

In the debate, at the UNC-TV station in Research Triangle Park, Cooper wasted no time jumping into the controversial piece of state legislation during his opening statement.

“We need a good jobs governor, not a House Bill 2 governor,” he said.

McCrory defended HB2 and said liberals and Cooper are to blame for starting the problems surrounding the law.

He said the local government in Charlotte is at fault for passing an ordinance on Feb. 22 providing nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. McCrory said the ordinance forced public and private sector employees to enforce gender neutrality in bathrooms.

He said the ordinance changed conventional definitions of gender and in North Carolina, men will go to men’s restrooms and women will go to women’s restrooms.

David McLennan, professor of political science at Meredith College, said this is a closely watched race.

“This is one that most national observers have pointed to for a year and a half now, saying this is going to be one of the closest races for governor in 2016,” he said.

The polls are close, with Cooper leading McCrory by 4.6 percentage points in the Real Clear Politics polling average.

Each candidate accused the other of focusing too much on social issues to divert attention away from economic issues.

“All Cooper talks about is social issues, because that’s all he’s got,” McCrory said. “Let’s get out of bathroom issues and to creating jobs, as we’ve done for the past three years.”

Cooper said McCrory placed social issues and right-wing ideology ahead of the best interests of North Carolinians.

The gubernatorial candidates also went head-to-head on taxes.

Cooper said the McCrory administration has raised taxes in 64 different ways for ordinary North Carolinians.

“He continues to tax the middle class,” Cooper said. “That’s why the middle class is hurting.”

McCrory said the state’s unemployment rate has decreased during his time in office due to his policy.

“Unemployment was a record 9.4 percent when I came to office,” he said. “We had the highest income tax and the highest corporate tax in South.”

Several times throughout the debate, Cooper said McCrory is dishonest about his record and said wages in North Carolina are stagnant.

McLennan said the debates are important for the gubernatorial race because they are a rare opportunity for voters to actually see the candidates.

“This is a presidential year and sometimes people forget that there are other races,” he said. “So I think it’s important because we get to see them, not just their ads — particularly their vision for what the governor should be.”

state@dailytarheel.com



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