North Carolinians have been so outraged at HB2, the discriminatory law that prohibits trans people in North Carolina from using public bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, that it could very well cost Governor Pat McCrory, who championed the bill and signed it into law, his job. His opponent, state Attorney General Roy Cooper, is performing (slightly) better than McCrory in polls, and has repeatedly slammed the law, calling it a “national embarrassment” and refusing to defend it against legal challenges.
Cooper, who has been attorney general since 2001 and worked in state government for three decades, effectively began campaigning for the governorship in 2013 according to the Associated Press, after Republicans took control of both the governor’s mansion and the state legislature for the first time in nearly three decades.
In the time since then, the state has enacted a voter ID law (later struck down by a federal court) that purposefully made it more difficult for black North Carolinians to vote, required doctors who perform ultrasounds on patients more than 16 weeks pregnant to provide the information to state officials, and, of course, passed HB2.
HB2 has dominated the governor’s race, with McCrory getting asked a question about it at nearly every press event, per the AP. He recently made headlines for making a grotesque comment about Caitlyn Jenner, saying that she would have to use a male locker room should she visit his state.
Another issue many North Carolinians may vote on is McCrory’s response to Hurricane Matthew, which caused some $1.5 billion of damage in the state and killed 43 people. McCrory was able to change the conversation from how he is discriminating against black people, trans people, and women to how he is helping the state rebuild from a natural disaster, which helped his image, according to the AP. Cooper has accused McCrory of taking money from disaster relief funds to pay for the legal defense of HB2—since his office is refusing to defend it—but a fact check of that claim found it to be half-true.