This increasingly looks like a political death match – with one survivor in the end. I’m betting on Phil Berger.
Yesterday Governor McCrory compared Senator Berger & Co. to Marc Basnight, Tony Rand and – yes – Harry Reid.
Ouch. Them’s fighting words. Imagine Jim Hunt comparing a Democratic House Speaker in the 90s to Newt Gingrich.
A veteran observer of the legislature wrote, “Wow. You’d think McCrory and Berger were locked in a tight election campaign. Against each other.” And asked, “Is McCrory making a huge tactical and strategic mistake by taking sides in the budget battle? I don’t recall seeing that before. The typical gubernatorial stance would be, ‘The House and Senate need to work out their differences and pass a budget. That’s what the taxpayers sent them here to do’.”
It’s common for Governors to put public pressure on the legislature. But no matter how close Governors Hunt, Easley and Perdue were to Senate leaders, they never picked sides the way McCrory has.
Berger’s response to the Basnight-Rand-Reid comment was straight out of the Bugs Bunny Rule for Winning Debates. He said, “The governor and Senate have honest but resolvable differences over the state budget – these differences do not warrant personal criticisms of one another.”
(The Bugs Bunny Rule comes from Jeff Greenfield, the longtime TV political analyst: “The most comfortable person in the room always wins. Think Bugs Bunny Versus Daffy Duck.”)
This fight surely will last long beyond this session. What will the next two years be like for the Governor? And will he be running in 2016 against a Republican opponent backed by Berger?