After losing the election and control of the governor’s seat, North Carolina Republicans are now trying to undermine the results through the state legislature by pushing bills that would limit the power of incoming Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper.
According to several news reports, Republicans in the legislature called a surprise special session with just a few hours’ notice, to introduced a series of bills that would-would prevent the incoming governor from making Cabinet appointments, reduce the power of the State Board of Elections and change the way potentially unconstitutional bills are legally challenged. In other words, Republicans are trying to pull off a coup.
If passed, the legislation would undermine the results of the gubernatorial election by severely weakening the office of the governor.
“It appears this fourth special session will be to nullify the vote of the people for governor,” state House Minority Leader Larry Hall said.
Cooper declared victory over Gov. Pat McCrory, the Republican incumbent, on Nov. 9, but McCrory would not concede, saying the race was too close to call since Cooper was ahead by slightly more than 4,300 votes. He then called for all provisional ballots to be counted, demanded a statewide recount and accused citizens of voter fraud before finally conceding the election to Cooper on Dec. 5.
What’s perhaps more troubling is that the bills aren’t clear about what to do in certain common political scenarios.
SB 4 proposes that any appeals to legislation move through the Republican-dominated state Court of Appeals before going to the now Democratic-leaning state Supreme Court. Any Supreme Court and Court of Appeals candidates would also have to declare a political party affiliation during elections.
“We don’t look good to our people in North Carolina ― or to the rest of the country ― when laws are passed hastily in the middle of the night,” said Cooper during a press conference on Thursday.
“If I believe that any of these laws that they pass hurt working families or are unconstitutional, they will see me in court,” he added.
Meanwhile, HB 17 would require any of Cooper’s Cabinet picks to be approved by the Republican-dominated state Senate. It would also prevent Cooper from appointing any members to the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees and the state Board of Education.
The bill will also dramatically reduce the number of Democratic policymakers Cooper can hire from 1,500 to 300 ― a maneuver that would undo an expansion gifted to McCrory at the beginning of his term in 2013.
“I was just blown away reading through the bills,” said Jackson. “The way they had phrased it in the public was it wasn’t gonna be as bad as people were thinking. I can’t imagine what they decided not to include.”