Duke Democrats and Republicans work to influence McCrory-Cooper gubernatorial contest

<p>Democrat&nbsp;Roy Cooper is running against&nbsp;Republican incumbent Pat McCrory in the North Carolina governor's race.&nbsp;</p>

Democrat Roy Cooper is running against Republican incumbent Pat McCrory in the North Carolina governor's race. 

While all eyes might be on the presidential campaign, some Duke students are directing their efforts to electing North Carolina's next governor. 

The election, which will be held Nov. 8, is predicted to be one of the closest in the country as Republican incumbent Pat McCrory faces off against Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, who is currently North Carolina Attorney General. At Duke, both the Duke College Republicans and Duke Democrats are preparing for the race by phone banking for their respective candidate and registering voters.

Most polls since spring have placed Cooper five to 10 percentage points ahead. According to the RealClearPolitics poll average, Cooper led McCrory last week by just 3.6 percentage points

Student noted their views of the current candidates, many of which revolved around the controversial House Bill 2.

"Governor McCrory has been a consistent defender of HB2 and has had to deal with the negative economic consequences of that support. His signature, turning the bill into law, has led a number of major companies to refuse to conduct business within the bigoted parameters of our state law," sophomore Steve Hassey, vice president of Duke Democrats, wrote in an email. "And that fails to consider the human toll stemming from our failure to respect the self-identified gender of our peers."

McCrory has often dismissed the controversy over House Bill 2, releasing a new ad Wednesday in which he asks the viewers, “Are we really talking about this?” The Cooper campaign has said that Cooper will work to repeal HB2 if elected.

The economy is often cited as a major concern in this election for many North Carolinians. Sophomore Madison Laton, an intern for the McCrory campaign and vice-chair of Duke College Republicans, said that McCrory is best suited to supporting the state's economy.

"Governor McCrory has put this state back on a path of economic prosperity after inheriting a large deficit from the previous governor," she wrote in an email. "In this election, voters simply need to look at Pat McCrory’s economic record as governor of this state to see that he is the clear choice. He has done amazing things for North Carolina, and he must be re-elected so our comeback can continue."

Education will also be a major issue in the race. Cooper has accused McCrory of allowing teacher pay to fall to the 41st lowest in the country, but in fact, it has risen from 43rd when McCrory first took office.

In addition, coal ash has been a debated topic in North Carolina in the past year, particularly after state epidemiologist Megan Davies resigned in August over controversy that McCrory and public officials had under-represented the risk of coal ash contamination in North Carolina drinking water. Coal ash from Duke Energy power plants has been buried and stored in several North Carolina counties.

Other important topics in the campaign have been North Carolina’s recent voter ID law, which was struck down in July, and overall leadership abilities in the face of state crises. For example, last week's gasoline shortage is a key issue, noted junior Colin Duffy, Duke College Republicans chairman.

"The Governor demonstrated brilliant executive leadership in the face of a gasoline shortage crisis due to damages on the Colonial Pipeline," Duffy wrote. "In response to this dire threat that would’ve left hundreds of North Carolina families without gasoline, Governor McCrory signed an executive order to temporarily waive hours of service restrictions for fuel vehicles traveling in and through North Carolina."

Who will emerge victorious in the race is still being debated on campus.

"Without a doubt, Governor Pat McCrory is going to win," Duffy wrote.  "Several polls have indicated his lead already."

Both groups will continue to raise awareness for their candidate and encourage students to vote Nov. 8.

"A lot of polls have positive numbers for Roy Cooper, but the momentum could swing in Governor McCrory’s direction at any second," Hassey said. "To ensure that we do not allow Pat McCrory to return to the Governor’s Mansion, we will continue to work as an organization to help out Roy Cooper until election day."


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