Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory had his time before the Charlotte Rotary Club on Tuesday. Democrat Walter Dalton got a polite, but cool reception from the group last month. For McCrory, the welcome was filled with anecdotes and inside jokes.
It was just “Mayor Pat” to this overflowing room of local business leaders. Clearly on his home court, McCrory played into that. Former councilman Edwin Peacock surprised McCrory with a clip from an old home movie showing the former mayor as a fresh-faced 21 year old refereeing a high school basketball game in Charlotte.
“Edwin Peacock, you were a lousy basketball player," McCrory joked. "You were a great city council member, though.”
This was an audience of McCrory fans nostalgic for the boom time through which he led Charlotte and eager to see him boost the city’s influence in state government. McCrory promised to make North Carolina more competitive through tax reform and government regulations that are friendlier to business. And he appealed to his Charlotte allies for help.
“And as I look back at the history of Charlotte during my brief tenure of 14 years, every successful thing we did ... It wasn’t due to the mayor or a top executive here," McCrory said, "It was a team effort.”
In keeping with the non-partisan nature of Rotary Club, McCrory steered clear of pointed campaign rhetoric, as his opponent Walter Dalton did last month. Not once did McCrory even mention Dalton’s name. He knew there was another name far more likely to resonate with this crowd. He finished his speech with the story of a woman airlifted from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina who looked out the airplane window and suddenly realized her destination.
“And she started screaming: “We’re in Charlotte. We’re in Charlotte! We’re in Charlotte! Thank God we’re in Charlotte!” Well thank God were here and in North Carolina. But we cannot take it for granted.”
McCrory says he’s not taking Charlotte voters for granted either – even though polls continue to have him leading the governor’s race statewide by double digits.