North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory believes the backlash to House Bill 2, the controversial legislation that forces trans people to use public restrooms that do not correspond with their gender identity, is a plot to remove him from office.
In an interview published Monday, McCrory called out the Human Rights Campaign and state Democrats, who he argues are using the bill to push him out. "You've got to be politically naive if you think this is not coordinated by a very effective -- a very effective -- group," McCrory toldThe New York Times.
Before April, McCrory was leading in 2016 election polls over his Democratic opponent, the state's Attorney General, Roy Cooper, reports the Times. After HB 2 was passed, Cooper pledged not to defend the legislation in court, calling it a "national embarrassment." According to a recent Elon University poll of registered voters in North Carolina, Cooper is now leading over the incumbent Republican by six points.
In addition to pointing the finger at Cooper's political party and local LGBT rights groups, McCrory told the Times that the fight over HB 2 is also the fault of the Charlotte City Council.
In February, the city's government voted -- in a 5-4 decision -- to extend its existing nondiscrimination laws, which allow equal access in all public accommodations, to Charlotte's trans residents. The governor, in previous interviews, has referred to the city council's action as "government overreach."
McCrory further explained that he warned council members prior to the vote that he would have no choice but to push through a state law striking it down, in order to protect "basic restroom and locker room norms." Since the Charlotte ordinance was passed -- and later struck down by HB 2 -- he believes that the national conversation has allowed for little nuanced discussion on what is "a very complex issue."
McCrory's statements to the Times coincide with a recent shift in McCrory's gubernatorial campaign strategy: His team has begun to target Charlotte's mayor, Jennifer Roberts.
In a Monday campaign email, McCrory blasted Roberts for "backing the ordinance that prompted House Bill 2," reports The Charlotte Observer. The correspondence also includes clips of the Charlotte mayor discussing the legislation in public appearances. Meanwhile, the email's headline further called out McCrory's Democratic challenger, referring to Roberts as a "Roy Cooper Ally."
A spokesman for the McCrory campaign, Ricky Diaz, told the Observer that the email is intended to remind voters who got North Carolina into this mess.
"The clips... should help refresh your memory that the topic of bathrooms was first raised by the radical left when -- over warnings from the governor and other state leaders that they should have left restroom norms way they were and focus on (other) things -- Roy Cooper's allies decided to push through Charlotte's radical bathroom mandate anyway," Diaz said.
Since the passage of HB 2 on March 23, over 160 businesses -- including Apple, Microsoft, and Dow Chemical -- have voiced strong opposition to the bill. PayPal nixed a $3.6-million expansion that cost the state a reported 400 jobs. In addition, Deutsche Bank announced that it would be pulling its own expansion to the state, one that would have added an additional 250 positions to development center located in Cary, North Carolina.