The so-called “Charlotte curse” has been broken. Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory is now Governor-Elect McCory. He beat Democrat Walter Dalton tonight.
WFAE’s Lisa Miller reports on what it means to have a Charlotte guy in North Carolina’s highest office:
McCrory only spoke for a few minutes last night, but he made sure he gave a shout out to who he called his Charlotte mentors.
"That’s Mayor Knox, Mayor Gant, Mayor Myrick and Mayor Vinroot," McCrory said. "It can happen…and thank you for your previous service. The curse is over!"
All four those former mayors had tried and failed to win a statewide office.
Not surprisingly, it was largely a Charlotte crowd at last night’s party. After all, it was held uptown. Bob Korkus has some high hopes for what a McCrory win means for the city.
"I think this is going to be very positive for Charlotte," Korkus says. "I think Charlotte has been very shortchanged on a lot of things from Raleigh over the past years."
But you can imagine McCrory’s victory prompts another response in other parts of the state.
"There’s always the question: you know, are we going to get overlooked?", Charles DeVane says.
DeVane owns a construction contracting firm in Bladen County, 150 miles east of Charlotte. Sure, he’s heard that concern a few times. But it certainly hasn’t kept him and many people he knows from voting for McCrory.
"I don’t think you can do anything for Charlotte that’s not going to help the east in some way or the mountains in some way," DeVane says. "Anything that affects us affects them. Increase the tax base in Charlotte, and you increase the tax base in the state and that’s better for us."
Through much of the twentieth century, North Carolina had an unspoken rule of alternating governors from the east and from the west says Ferrel Guillory, the director of the UNC Program on Public Life.
"A lot of these old south regional constructs that used to be embedded in our politics, they’ve just been eroded," Guillory says.
The last three governors—Bev Perdue, Mike Easley, and Jim Hunt--have come from the eastern part of the state. Guillory says McCrory is noteworthy not so much because he’s from Charlotte, but because he’s from a major metropolitan area. Power has tended to come from the state’s rural areas because that’s where most people lived, but that has changed.
"The political center of gravity, the culture of the state and surely the economics of the state are much more powered by our big metro areas than ever before," Guillory says.
As Mayor of Charlotte, McCrory worked on transit, zoning and infrastructure issues.
The benefit to Charlotte with a McCrory win, could come from that city know-how, says Catawba College Political Scientist Michael Bitzer. And don’t forget Mecklenburg County already has an influential presence in the legislature: House Speaker Thom Tillis.
"That’s going to be a very powerful force to say, ‘there are some concerns in the state that we need to address from an urban perspective that we wouldn’t necessarily get with politicians with a rural perspective as well," Bitzer says.
So will it be good for Charlotte to have its guy in office?
"It certainly can’t hurt," Bitzer says. "Now, the balance that McCrory would have to do is not to appear overly Charlottean in the Governor’s mansion."
If McCrory wants some advice on that…there’s one man he can turn to, former Governor Jim Martin. Although he’s not from Charlotte, he was from the Great State of Mecklenburg when he was elected in 1984.
We asked governor Jim Martin what When you were governor, did you feel like people were looking over your shoulder to make sure you weren’t treating your home region any differently than any other place?
Absolutely, that’s what politics is all about…to look for the other side to do something that’s unfair or unwise or playing favorites.
And his advice to McCrory on how to be someone from Charlotte in the governor seat…
"Best way to do that is not to be fixated on it," Martin says. "It’s a big state and Charlotte is part of it and go out to serve the people of CLT and everyone else."
Martin says, if the state wins, so does Charlotte. At last night’s party, McCrory already had the sentiment down pat.
"It means a lot for everyone," McCrory says. "Not just Charlotte, but the entire state. We look forward to representing the entire state."