You have viewed all your free articles this month

Subscribe Sign In

Or subscribe with your Google account and let Google manage your subscription.

Politics & Government

‘Don’t hijack our constitution,’ McCrory says as all 5 ex-governors blast power shift

 
MORE FROM THE SERIES

North Carolina constitutional amendments

Coverage from The Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun of the constitutional amendments you’ll vote on in the November 2018 elections.

EXPAND ALL

A North Carolina voter ID constitutional amendment is on the ballot this Election Day. Here are facts about voter fraud, voter ID and NC’s unconstitutional racially discriminatory 2013 law.

The North Carolina ballot for the 2018 midterms includes six constitutional amendments on rights and government power. Find info on what they are, what your vote means and the bills that may be passed into law.

The tax cap is one of six constitutional amendments the legislature put on the ballot in the the North Carolina midterm elections. It could affect education spending, teachers say. How would it work?

Americans for Prosperity, known for its mostly conservative agenda and Koch brothers funding, is running ads against the judicial vacancy constitutional amendment that the GOP put on the ballot in North Carolina.

A North Carolina constitutional amendment in the 2018 election would give crime victims more rights. Will “Marsy’s Law” make sure victims’ rights are enforced, or create a financial burden on the court system?

Voters have the chance to decide whether the governor should have sole discretion filling judicial vacancies, or if the legislature should have a role in the process.

Republicans say photo voter ID is needed for security while opponents say it will keep people from voting. Voters will decide on a North Carolina constitutional amendment to require voter ID.

One of North Carolina’s six proposed constitutional amendments would change the makeup of the state elections board. It also would change how members are appointed. It’s one of the amendments former governors oppose.

A constitutional amendment protecting hunting and fishing rights is on the NC ballot for the November 2018 midterm elections. Supporters say there is an attack on hunting; critics worry it could prevent regulations.

Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Wake, Triangle politicians opposing North Carolina constitutional amendments

A new political ad by the Stop Deceptive Amendments group says North Carolina’s former governors, which includes Pat McCrory and Jim Martin, oppose proposed constitutional amendments on the November ballot.

House Speaker Tim Moore says a merit commission would put North Carolina in line with what most other states do.

A poster created by the BlueNC blog and circulated by Wayne Goodwin of the NC Democratic Party claims the crime victims’ rights, aka “Marsy’s Law,” constitutional amendment will criminalize abortion.

North Carolina voters are largely uneducated about six proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot for the November 2018 midterm elections even as Republicans support them and Democrats say ‘nix all six.’

Without a big statewide race, attention is on the six proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution that will be on the ballot. Grassroots campaigns are growing. Will money follow?

Ex-NC Gov. Jim Martin said he and the other living former governors will continue to oppose two constitutional amendments on the ballot. He said while the new language is better, it didn’t go far enough.

North Carolina legislative leaders Tim Moore and Phil Berger won challenge from Gov. Roy Cooper and the NC NAACP on Tuesday when the state Supreme Court declined to hear appeals challenging constitutional amendment proposals.

North Carolina General Assembly Republican leaders Phil Berger and Tim Moore lost a lawsuit to Democratic Governor Roy Cooper over constitutional amendments. On Monday the NC legislature passed new language for the amendments.

Raleigh

It usually takes a fancy event or a funeral for all five of North Carolina’s living former governors to convene.

On Monday, they congregated at the old Capitol in downtown Raleigh to warn voters about a pair of proposed constitutional amendments that would weaken the governor’s office and shift power to the legislature. The proposals are two of six amendments scheduled for the ballot this fall.

One of them would limit the governor’s authority to fill judicial vacancies. The other would grant the legislature — not the governor — the ability to set up a new state elections board and make appointments to state boards and commissions that have historically been made by the governor.

Reporters from across the state huddled behind antique desks in the former House chambers as former governors Pat McCrory, Bev Perdue, Mike Easley, Jim Hunt and Jim Martin stood shoulder-to-shoulder behind a podium. Republicans Martin and McCrory offered some of the sharpest criticisms of the amendments’ Republican authors.

Martin called the gathering “unprecedented” and referred to the amendments as “a scheme” that threatens the balance of political power, adding “it’s embarrassing to me” that the GOP crafted them.

“It’s not about partisan politics, it’s about power politics,” Martin said. “And it must be stopped.”

Legislators who want the governor’s powers should have “the courage” to run for governor, McCrory said, adding: ”Earn it. Don’t hijack our constitution.”

Read Next

Read Next

Republican legislative leaders, who put the amendments on the ballot, issued a statement disputing the way the governors cast their intentions.

“We respectfully disagree with these governors that the people deserve no input on the filling of judicial vacancies, and that our state’s elections and ethics board should be a partisan controlled body despite its key role in our democratic process,” House Speaker Tim Moore and Phil Berger, the Senate leader, said in a statement emailed to the media.

“While it’s not surprising former governors oppose checks and balances on the unilateral authority of their office, we are confident the people will support a more accountable approach to filling judicial vacancies and approve a bipartisan balance on critical boards like the state’s ethics and elections commission over a system of purely political control,” they said.

Hunt argued the amendments don’t enhance but cripple the state’s system of checks and balances. The amendments are about “a few politicians in the legislature (who) want to increase their power at the expense of the people of North Carolina,” he said.

Former North Carolina governors from left, Jim Hunt, Jim Martin, Mike Easley, Bev Perdue and Pat McCrory speak during a press conference opposing proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution Monday, August 13, 2018 at the North Carolina State Capitol. (To buy photos published by The News & Observer, visit mcclatchyreprints.com). Travis Long tlong@newsobserver.com

Raising awareness

The governors plan to raise awareness about the amendments, but it’s unclear how. Asked if they planned to raise money to pay for advertisements, Martin said they planned to talk about it in a private meeting after Monday’s press conference.

“If you’re not here in the bubble called Raleigh, and if you don’t think 24/7 about politics and about the legislature and about what is happening ... then you sometimes lose track (of what is happening),” Perdue said. “I forced myself to pay attention when I heard constitutional amendments, but I’m not sure 9.5 million people in this state are going to pause and pay attention.”

Martin and McCrory warned that the changes could ultimately come back to haunt Republicans if they lose power and Democrats gain control of the General Assembly.

“The pendulum can always swing back the other way,” Martin said.

McCrory said his goal is to change the minds of some Republican legislators before the election.

“They may have voted to put it on the ballot. But now they have a second decision to make: Would they recommend voting for it?” McCrory said. “They still have an out they can take.”

‘If you don’t know, vote no’

Contrary to Berger and Moore’s statement, Easley argued that it is, in fact, unusual for all of the former governors to agree. When pressed about specific legislation, the governors sometimes “hedge.”

“Never have five of us gotten together and stuck it to you on the same issue,” he said.

For his part, Easley said the amendments are not only bad for the political health of the state but are misleading to voters. Republican legislators thwarted an effort to write captions for them.

“You have the right to know what the amendment is (going to do),” said Easley, a Democrat. “If you don’t know, vote no.”

Insider reporter Lauren Horsch contributed to this report.

Specht: 919-829-4870 @AndySpecht
Unlimited Digital Access: Only $0.99 For Your First Month
#ReadLocal

Get full access to The News & Observer content across all your devices.

SAVE NOW
MORE POLITICS & GOVERNMENT
Copyright Commenting Policy Report News Privacy Policy Terms of Use