ELLIOT: After scuttling compromise, Cooper owns H.B. 2

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during the annual economic forecast event Wednesday

Gov. Roy Cooper is finding out how tricky actual governing can be. Cooper desperately wants the H.B. 2 issue to go away, and yet he personally wrecked the bipartisan deal that paired a repeal of the law with a temporary moratorium on Charlotte-like ordinances. Why?At first it appeared as if the governor simply misread his leverage on the issue. Legislators of both parties want the H.B. 2 backlash gone, but the level of motivation for repeal varies greatly.Democrats and Republicans from urban areas are under intense pressure to repeal the bill. These are the areas where the most damage is being done from the rock concerts cancelled, sporting events moved, and businesses not expanding. Those are also the areas where even Republican constituents are more likely to hold more liberal social views.But a Republican senator from, say, Rockingham or Cleveland counties feels significantly less pressure to repeal. Sure, a few constituents may have had tickets to a cancelled concert or game. And maybe someone from the area could have gotten a job and moved to Charlotte or Raleigh in one of those corporate expansions. But on balance, the backlash hasn’t affected rural constituents much.In fact, rural legislators are much more likely to be urged not to give in to corporate blackmail from outside the state. Regardless of how the liberal interest group—news media echo chamber tries to portray it differently, many know their concern for vulnerable populations is genuine and not anti-transgender in the least.So it’s possible that Cooper simply misread the situation and overplayed his hand. But another theory is gaining purchase — it’s all about the donors.Cooper and his allies outspent McCrory by hefty margins (including nearly 2 to 1 in TV ads), but still only managed to eke out a photo finish. He knows he owes favors to his backers, the liberal special-interest groups.Personally, Cooper may have a more reasonable view on the underlying issues, but it doesn’t matter. He’s under the thumb of the far-left, no-compromise crowd when it comes to H.B. 2. But that fact would be far too obvious if he had to veto a repeal bill that had passed with significant bipartisan margins. So the call went out: I don’t care what deal you’ve made, welch on it. I have to look like I’m in the mainstream.Suddenly, Democrats had to pretend that, all along, they were not interested in compromise either. Instead, with the help of the news media, Cooper aims to maintain the fiction that only H.B. 2 matters, not issues of transgender access versus accommodation — and certainly not the insane Charlotte ordinance to which H.B. 2 was a direct response. (Remember, H.B. 2 passed the House with almost half of Democrats supporting it, and the only way Democratic senators avoided a similar result was to walk out on the vote.)That is why legislative leaders have called on Cooper to propose a compromise bill that can pass. They had a deal, he scuttled it. Cooper owns the issue now. Drew Elliot is a member of the North State Journal’s editorial board, separate from the news staff. Unlike other newspapers, the North State Journal does not publish unsigned editorials; the author or authors of every editorial, letter, op-ed, and column is prominently displayed. To submit a letter or op-ed, see our submission guidelines.