Did Cooper Threaten NC Senate Dems with Primary Opponents Over Budget Vote?

RALEIGH – The anger and frustration of Governor Roy Cooper and Democratic lawmakers was evident for all to see when the N.C. House cleverly passed an override of Cooper’s budget veto. They lashed out, smeared Republicans, and lied.

It would make sense that Cooper and Democratic leaders wouldn’t want to let such an embarrassing thing happen again in the Senate, which is needed to complete the override and implement the budget. So it’s interesting to hear that Cooper has reportedly threatened some Democratic senators with primary opponents if they don’t remain vigilant or vote the right way in this matter.

That’s according to Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham).

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From WRAL:

“Gov. Roy Cooper is telling Senate Democrats they will face opposition in next March’s primary if they don’t uphold his veto of the $24 billion state budget, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said Tuesday.

“Indications I’ve gotten from some Democrats in the Senate are that they would like for the budget to become law, but they are afraid of reprisals from the governor,” Berger said at a morning news conference. “Stories include that he’s introduced them to their primary opponents if they don’t fall in line and follow his orders. If that’s occurred, it’s beyond the pale.”

“Legislators are elected to serve the people they represent, not be subservient to the person living in the mansion down the street,” Berger added, saying he’s heard of the primary threats from more than one senator. […]”

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Sounds like mild mannered Cooper may have been baring his teeth a bit when it comes to preventing another embarrassing override defeat. Now, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) is pushing back against the rumor, saying the governor himself “certainly hasn’t threatened,” but  there may be some “rogue groups” that did the threatening. File that under ‘Plausible Deniability.’

Moreover, the governor’s response to the accusation didn’t exactly amount to a direct denial, either. His spokesman, Ford Porter said:

“The only threat we see is the Republican leadership’s threat to our democracy. What we heard today was more empty excuses for the refusal to give teachers a meaningful raise or close the health coverage gap for 500,000 North Carolinians. The governor has offered a reasonable compromise, and North Carolinians deserve better than Republican obstruction and excuses.”

Notice Cooper’s office didn’t really answer the question of whether or not the governor threatened some Senate Democrats with primary opponents if they embarrassed him again.

Read more about the rumored threat, and the details of a possible Senate override vote, here.

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