5:37 p.m. September 3, 2013

NC Legislature II: Maximum Veto Override

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to ignoring the NC state legislature, they're back. For one last job.

Their target this time is Gov. Pat McCrory, who ran as a deal-making moderate only to see the state excoriated in national media as a far-right bastion. So McCrory vetoed two measures, one loosening rules on the use of migrant workers and the other requiring drug testing for welfare recipients.

McCrory's raw about the perception that he's spent the most controversial session in decades caving to the far-right on one issue after another. The vetoes ostensibly give a nod to the left (drug-testing the poor is a step too far!) and the right (we can't let more illegal immigrants in!)

At a recent surprise appearance in Asheville, I heard local GOP pols admitting that "we're losing the PR war." McCrory proceeded to say that policy matters were "too complex for the journalists," helping things with NC's media considerably. But the legislature's more hardcore; triangulation is for pussies.

NC's governor has only had a veto since 1996, as post-Reconstruction Southern governors were generally kept weak as possible so power could remain in the hands of whichever local aristocracy cobbled together a machine or "ring" as they were charmingly called back then. Because of that past, Southern legislatures love overriding vetoes. Ours is no exception.

So the legislature downs their bourbon, ditches their vacations and fundraisers, puts on their best war-face and drops back into still-sweltering Raleigh to stick their thumb in some gubernatorial eye.

Meanwhile, McCrory's office is sending out a rapid barrage of flak with titles like "vetoes display willingness to be independent" and "support for Governor McCrory's vetoes is widespread," steeling themselves for the coming showdown.

Like any sequel: this time, it's personal.