Cooper Relatively Unknown in Race for Governor

roy_cooper_announceRALEIGH—North Carolina is set to have many tough political battles next fall, including the governor’s race.

For nearly 15 years, Roy Cooper has served as the state’s attorney general. However,  Cooper is still coming into the race as a relative unknown for many people in North Carolina. It was no surprise when Roy Cooper announced his intention to run for governor in 2016. It is a move he has been alluding to some time now.

“One thing that sort of ended up hurting Roy Cooper a little bit is that in 2012 he was completely unopposed, didn’t have to run a campaign. So what that means at this point is that he has not run statewide in seven years and voters are going to forget about you in seven years if you are not always in the headlines,” said Tom Jensen, with Public Policy Polling.

Left-leaning Public Policy Polling has been looking at the matchup of incumbent governor Pat McCrory against Cooper for months. It is always a close race, most recently showing McCrory with a slight edge over Cooper.

It also showed that when asked about Cooper’s favorability: 49 percent of those polled, had no opinion. Jensen said one reason behind this could be the number of new voters that have moved into the state.

“There is not going to be a lot of time for Roy to introducing himself in an abstract way,” said Mac McCorkle, with Duke University.

McCorkle said for Cooper to take on McCrory, he will have to spend little time re-introducing himself to the state, and instead immediately take on the incumbent.

“He is going to brand his identity in a comparative sense, that he is not the incumbent and he does not have the incumbents problems,” said McCorkle.

Cooper has already done quite well fundraising, as has McCroy with over a year until election day, observers say the campaigning for this race is expected to be intense to the very end.

Both McCrory and Cooper had more than $2 million cash on hand as of July, prior to either one of them officially announcing their run in 2016. Analysts say they also expect a lot of outside interest group money to be spent on this race in addition to what the candidates raise themselves.

– Loretta Boniti

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Capital Tonight Sept. 29: Charter School Funding

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