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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

GOP’s NC Mess May Flip State to Dems

It doesn’t do one’s state a lot of good when top entertainers, like Bruce Springsteen, boycott it because of homophobic policies rammed through the state legislature at the behest of wingnut evangelicals and signed by the Governor.
It makes even less sense when your state is a possible beachhead for Democrats in the South, since Obama won it in 2008, especially in a pivotal election year in which Democrats are gaining momentum and a U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Richard Burr is vulnerable. As Crystal Ball’s Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley recently wrote,

Having easily dismissed a trio of primary challengers on March 15, Sen. Richard Burr (R) can now focus on the general election, where he will face ex-state Rep. Deborah Ross (D), who won her party’s nomination to take on the incumbent. To a greater extent than Missouri, the new rating in North Carolina comes down to basic coattail math: If the GOP presidential nominee falters, the Tar Heel State will likely be the first red-state domino to fall because Romney only carried it by just two percentage points in 2012. With Trump or Cruz as the nominee, it’s possible that Democrats could carry North Carolina in November, boosting Ross’ chances.

And that was written before the latest jobs meltdown. As you might imagine some NC Republicans are shrugging it off, with a “who cares about Springsteen” attitude. But now the stakes are considerably higher, as David Bracken and Paul A. Specht write in “Economic impact of HB2 mushrooms in the Triangle” in the News and Observer,

The economic impact of the state’s controversial House Bill 2 continued to mushroom Tuesday, as Deutsche Bank announced it was freezing plans to create 250 jobs in Cary and a top Wake County economic development official said that five companies since early last week have canceled or postponed efforts to bring jobs to the county.
“We’ve had some companies choose to suspend their site selection search in North Carolina and consequently in Wake County,” said Adrienne Cole, executive director of Wake County Economic Development. “Some have said they’re taking North Carolina off the list, others have said they’re postponing things to see what happens.”
The economic development projects included an IT company and a clean energy company and ranged in size from 75 jobs to one that could have brought 1,000 jobs to the Triangle, she said.
Cole said that, after Deutsche Bank’s decision, she’s also worried about economic development projects that the area has already secured. The German bank in September announced plans to add 250 jobs in Cary by the end of next year.
But it halted that expansion Tuesday, saying in a statement that HB2 “invalidated existing protections of the rights of gay, bisexual and transgender fellow citizens in some municipalities and prevents municipalities from adopting such protections in the future.”

The authors add that “Deutsche Bank is the second major corporation to halt expansion plans in North Carolina because of HB2. Last week, PayPal scrapped plans for a new Charlotte operations center that would have employed 400 people. Two other companies, Red Ventures and Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, have said they are re-evaluating expansion plans because of the law.” Further,

The legislation also has led some municipalities and states to ban nonessential employee travel to North Carolina. The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau released a report Monday saying that Wake County had lost out on an estimated $732,000 in economic benefits after four groups canceled plans to hold events in the county.

North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory has chosen to learn his lessons the hard way. As Craig Jarvis writes in the NC News and Observer,

Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday issued an executive order that he said was needed to clarify widespread misunderstanding about the new North Carolina law regulating protections for gay and transgender people.
The governor’s order didn’t change the most controversial provision of the law: requiring transgender people to use bathrooms of their birth gender. Gay rights advocates criticized McCrory for not doing enough, while Republican leaders supported him.

McCrory is also up for re-election this year, and his prospects were rated a “toss-up” by Crystal Ball’s Sabato, Kondik and Skelly — also before the latest jobs meltdown.
Progressive who savor the spectacle of Republican leader squirmage and such poorly conceived and clumsy walkbacks should stay tuned. This show is just getting started and it will soon be played out in other southern states.
What we are seeing in the pushback in the southern states is a great victory for all those who are opposed to mean-spirited, homophobic state laws — and a showcase for the power of the boycott as the most effective form of citizen action. It is more than possible that such boycotts could be used to repeal and prevent other reactionary state laws, including ALEC’s voter suppression measures and other laws that abuse civil and hiuman rights.
It just may be that NC swing voters will soon tire of the GOP’s Keystone Kops routine and, if NC Dems play this hand well, decide that Republicans, who frequently brag about their party’s “pro-business” policies, are clearly clueless about what it takes to attract — and keep — jobs. November 8 would be a good time to send that message.

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