Burr: Whistling past the political graveyard


Photo by Rachel Sian, via Creative Commons.

Photo by Rachel Sian, via Creative Commons.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) told Huffington Post yesterday he has “issues” with his state’s HB2 anti-transgender law passed overnight in March:

Burr has largely avoided talking about the law. He previously said he was out of the country when it passed; stated it’s up to the courts to decide if it’s valid; suggested it doesn’t actually discriminate; and declared it a state issue.

It is certainly an issue for Charlotte. The Chamber of Commerce there is under fire from the Human Rights Campaign as an “anti-LGBT bully.” The Chamber supported a city council vote for repealing the now moot nondiscrimination ordinance that the legislature gave as the reason for passing HB2. The Chamber nonetheless issued a letter to state lawmakers asking them to allow cities to pass ordinances to protect LGBT citizens.

A report from the Chamber estimates that HB2 has so far cost Charlotte and Mecklenburg County “$285 million and a loss of as many as 1,300 jobs,” according to the Charlotte Observer:

The report also says inquiries about new economic development are down 58 percent since lawmakers passed the bill in March, and client visits down 69 percent from last year.

A new PPP poll released yesterday shows just how unpopular HB2 is inside North Carolina:

Only 35% of voters in the state support the bill, to 44% who are opposed to it. We continue to find that there are a lot more Republicans (28%) who are opposed to it than there are Democrats (16%) in support of it. 50% of voters in the state would like to see it repealed, compared to only 38% who think it should stay on the books. That includes a 46/39 spread among independents in favor of repealing it.

The reason for voters wanting HB2 repealed are pretty straightforward- they think it’s hurting the state both economically and in terms of its national reputation. Overall only 29% of voters believe HB2 is helping North Carolina, t0 56% who think it’s hurting. That includes a 29/53 spread with independents. Specifically on the issue of the economy, only 12% think it’s having a positive impact on the state to 50% who think it’s hurting. Even among Republicans 14% more think it’s negatively affecting the state’s economy than positively. And just 24% of voters think HB2 is helping the state’s national reputation, to 53% who think it’s hurting.

This may account for why Burr finally felt the need to say something mildly negative about the law:

A couple of factors may be softening Burr on the issue. One is that polls show HB 2 is increasingly unpopular in the state. A PPP poll released Tuesday found that half of North Carolina voters want the law repealed, compared with 38 percent who want to keep it. Another factor is that Burr is up for re-election, and his opponent, Democrat Deborah Ross, has been hounding him for avoiding talking about HB 2.

“When HB 2 began hurting working folks and businesses started leaving our state, he couldn’t be bothered. Now that he thinks it’s hurting his re-election chances, he’s changing his tune,” Ross spokesman Cole Leiter said in a statement. “Burr’s Washington-style politics of self-interest haven’t worked for North Carolina, and it’s time for a change. Deborah Ross has spoken out against HB 2 and told the truth about its impacts since day one.”

Deborah Ross spoke here at a couple of events over the weekend and appears to be a strong challenger. Ross pulled to within 4 points of Burr in an April PPP poll. A poll by the conservative Civitas Institute puts Ross within 1 point.

“Burr” is the sound an incumbent makes with that kind of cold wind blowing against the back of his neck. Care to make it even colder?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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