- If you are black or brown, Republicans really don't want you to vote," Cooper said.
- Berger's press office said Cooper is "embarrassing himself and his office."
Gov. Roy Cooper, whose approval ratings recently dipped into negative territory, vetoed bills Thursday dealing with election reforms and government appointments.
Cooper signaled his intent to veto Senate Bill 747, the election measure, in a video message.
Cooper accused Republicans of “using the advice of Trump’s handpicked election denier Cleta Mitchell.”
However, while Senate Republicans held a meeting where Mitchell was in attendance, they say they did not know she was coming or who she was.
“I had never met her,” Sen. Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus, said of Mitchell. “I did not know who she was until after the meeting. They had no influence on the bill whatsoever.”
Following the news that Mitchell was in one of the meetings, Democrats and some in the mainstream media have since run with this narrative, and Cooper is continuing it. According to lawmakers, the bill was already written and finalized before the meeting where Mitchell was in attendance.
Cooper accuses Republicans of racism
In the video, Cooper also says Republicans are racist, referring to S.B. 747.
“If you are black or brown, Republicans really don’t want you to vote,” Cooper said.
S.B. 747 contains no provisions concerning race. Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, responded, accusing Cooper of “mischaracterizing a bill that simply strengthens election integrity in North Carolina.”
“It’s unfortunate that he would rather score political points by crying ‘racism’ than be honest about the balanced, common-sense election reforms passed in the House and Senate,” Moore said. “I anticipate the House will swiftly override his veto.”
In the same video, Cooper also accuses North Carolina’s court system of being “stacked with partisan judges who have already turned the justice system upside down.”
The North Carolina Supreme Court is currently composed of five Republicans and two Democrats. Prior to the 2022 elections, the court was composed of four Democrats and three Republicans. Republicans won all statewide judicial races in 2022.
Republicans call it a “temper tantrum”
Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger’s press office replied to Cooper’s video saying that he is “embarrassing himself and his office with this blatant audition tape for the Biden-Harris administration.”
Cooper also stamped his veto Thursday on Senate Bill 512, Greater Accountability for Boards/Commissions.
“This legislation will hurt the effective and efficient use of taxpayer money by impairing the Governor’s constitutionally required duty to execute the laws passed by the legislature,” Cooper wrote in his official veto message. “The bill interrupts the critical work of boards and commissions to protect public health, provide clean air and water, recruit new jobs, lower electric bills and more. Fundamentally it violates the separation of powers enshrined in the state Constitution. The courts have consistently rejected these legislative power grabs in McCrory v. Berger and other cases. Legislative efforts to seize executive power are unconstitutional and damage vital state work.”
There has been some speculation that Cooper’s latest antics have been an effort to raise his national profile following his recent stunts to gain attention. Cooper has not been able to influence legislative policy since Republicans gained supermajorities.
“Through his partisan temper tantrums, it’s clear that Roy Cooper isn’t handling being a lame duck governor very well,” said Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC.
Cooper drew criticism nationally for the stunt, including from current Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, R-SC.
Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Burke, who is a lead sponsor of S.B. 747, released a statement criticizing Cooper after the governor shared the video on social media.
“When North Carolina voters vote, democracy wins,” Daniel said. “That’s why we are creating a secure election system that makes it easy to vote and protects election integrity. But Gov. Cooper wants his handpicked partisans running our elections and he apparently feels threatened by North Carolinians observing what happens in their polling places.”
Daniel was also critical of Cooper’s characterization of North Carolina.
“North Carolina is not a third-world dictatorship, no matter how hard Gov. Cooper tries to make it one,” Daniel said. “We have an open democracy. By overriding this veto, we’ll guarantee every citizen’s right to vote with confidence in the security of our elections.”