Cooper holds long-awaited victory rally, taps key staff

JONATHAN DRAKE—Reuters
North Carolina Governor-elect Roy Cooper and his wife Kristine wave to supporters at a victory rally the day after his Republican opponent and incumbent Pat McCrory conceded in Raleigh. Dec. 6

RALEIGH — Governor-elect Roy Cooper held a long-awaited victory rally at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh Tuesday night, on the heels of Gov. Pat McCrory’s concession Monday after a protracted and contentious election battle. Having already assembled a transition team, Cooper greeted supporters, friends and family in celebration and thanks for electing him the 75th governor of North Carolina, and outlined broad policy goals for his administration.Nearly a month after Election Day, Cooper exclaimed, “Finally!””I promise you that I will wake up tomorrow morning, and every morning, thinking of what I can do to help everyday North Carolinians,” said Cooper. “I want to raise their wages; I want to make sure our educators and state employees are properly paid; and I want to make sure that our children receive the best education possible.”Cooper said he’d fight for clean air and water, better mental and physical health resources, and “strong and fair” law enforcement, in addition to addressing the apparent damage caused by controversial House Bill 2.”I will fight all kinds of discrimination. It’s not only the right thing to do; it’s smart,” said Cooper. “With this election, North Carolina is on its way to repairing its reputation — let’s finish the job and repeal House Bill 2!”Other policy focal points included more local autonomy in shaping policies, as well as tax breaks for the middle class and small businesses.Attorney General-elect, and Cooper protege, Josh Stein warmed up the crowd for Cooper, telling supporters they made North Carolina shine bright for Democrats on Election Day. In his new role, Stein said he aims to reduce crime, repeat offenders and the state’s opioid scourge.”I will take on corporate bad actors, corrupt politicians and criminals because no one is above the law,” said Stein. “I know I have some big shoes to fill replacing Roy Cooper as your attorney general.”
Inside the Executive MansionCooper will take office on Jan. 1 with the formal inauguration scheduled for Jan. 7, 2017. He has already made his long-time chief of staff in the Attorney General’s office, Kristi Jones, his chief of staff as governor. Cooper’s pick for senior adviser, Ken Eudy, is already raising some ire from Republicans. Eudy wrote a column for EducationNC two months ago in which he said he sits in protest when crowds cheer and stand to honor military service members.”I sit simply because I think it odd that, of all the categories of Americans that we honor, we honor warriors,” Eudy, who spent six years in the Army National Guard, wrote. “I’m resolved that I won’t stand until we also honor the profession that will determine whether the United States remains free — school teachers.”Cooper also tapped Brad Adcock, a 30-year lobbyist for Blue Cross Blue Shield, as his legislative director. Adcock will likely have one of the toughest jobs in Cooper’s operation; he faces navigating Republican super-majorities in the General Assembly for Cooper. N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger released the following statement the day after McCrory conceded the election:”We hope Governor-elect Cooper is willing to work with us to continue improving public education and cutting taxes on families and job creators — policies championed by Gov. McCrory that have generated budget surpluses, robust economic growth and hundreds of thousands of new jobs,” said Berger. “Given that Governor-elect Cooper won his new office with a razor-thin plurality, it is clear there is no groundswell of public support for his campaign pledge of a massive income tax increase on our state’s citizens and businesses.”The General Assembly is scheduled convene for a long session to pass a biennial budget, redistricting legislation and press on with recent reforms.