Time for McCrory, Republicans to blink on HB2

If Gov. Pat McCrory doesn’t win re-election in November to a second term, and that’s a coin toss right now, it would not take much political acumen to decipher what did in the Republican.

And it won’t necessarily be his opponent, Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat and a capable candidate, but someone who has benefited by staying on the sidelines as this state’s Republican leadership implodes time and again by finding itself outside the law, be it drawing district maps, crafting voter laws, or putting into law a fix for a problem that never existed.

These blunders continue to generate headlines that bury the news of a strong economy for which the GOP can claim credit.

We reference House Bill 2, the hastily approved legislation that quickly garnered McCrory’s signature only to become a boulder in the state’s shoe, making North Carolina a national punchline while robbing us of revenue, denying us new jobs, and causing cancellations of prized entertainment.

Unless you just awakened from a coma you know that the law requires people to use the bathroom corresponding to their birth certificates and not how they self-identify. It was a response to a Charlotte City Council ordinance to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of choice, which was also a solution for a problem that didn’t exist.

So blame is to be shared.

HB2, however, went beyond addressing the bathroom issue, and made some discrimination legal, forcing a tad bit of rollback in a face-saving effort, but not enough. And there are existing laws to deal with anyone who enters the wrong bathroom and commits crimes.

The latest to pile on is the NCAA, which announced on Monday that seven events will be moved out of North Carolina, with the headliner being the loss in 2017 of the first- and second-round games in arguably sports’ biggest show, the NCAA men’s Division 1 basketball tournament, which Duke University and North Carolina almost always make and periodically win. That will cost the Blue Devils and Tar Heels and any other North Carolina teams making the tournament the opportunity for a short road trip to Greensboro and a favorable crowd, but it will also cost the state tens of millions of dollars in revenue.

Other events lost that are less prestigious but benefit the state in a number of ways are the Division I women’s soccer championship scheduled for December in Cary; the Division III men’s and women’s soccer championships set for December in Greensboro; the Division I women’s golf regional championships set for May in Greenville; the Division III men’s and women’s tennis championships set for May in Cary; the Division I women’s lacrosse championship set for May in Cary; and the Division II baseball championship set for June in Cary.

So we have a whole new faction of folks angry at McCrory and his allies, sports fans, who we believe lean harder right than left when it comes to politics.

To be sure, there is plenty of selective outrage when it comes to HB2, with businesses, entertainers, organizations and sports teams willing to tango with some of the world’s biggest violators of human rights while taking a whip to North Carolina, but that really doesn’t matter any more.

What matters is this hurried legislation, which was never carefully considered, is costing this state in ways that can’t be measured, image, and in ways that can, jobs and revenue lost.

There comes a time when it only makes sense to cut one’s losses and surrender to the mob — and it has arrived. The only way that McCrory, his fellow Republican lawmakers and North Carolina can win this blinking contest, is to blink.

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