Locked in a tight re-election battle, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory canceled a fundraising trip to Georgia on Wednesday as Hurricane Matthew menaced the East Coast.
The fundraiser was organized by some of Georgia’s top conservatives, including Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed, ex-Gov. Sonny Perdue and state Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth.
Peach State politicians are closely watching the outcome of McCrory’s race, seeing it as a harbinger of Georgia’s perennial battle over “religious liberty” legislation.
McCrory has championed the so-called “bathroom bill,” which restricts which restrooms transgender people can use in government facilities and bans cities from enforcing broader non-discrimination laws and bars local governments from prohibiting discrimination based on sexual preference. McCrory’s Democratic opponent, Attorney General Roy Cooper, opposes it.
Since the measure’s passage, North Carolina has since lost an estimated $400 million in business, according to some analysts. The NCAA, NBA and Atlantic Coast Conference sports leagues have all pulled big games from the state.
(McCrory’s office notes that the state’s unemployment rate, at 4.7 percent, is at the lowest level in eight years and that nearly 32,000 jobs have been added and another 5,000 announced since the measure was adopted.)
Georgia faced some of the same threats of boycotts and economic sanctions ahead of Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of the “religious liberty” bill. And after he nixed the legislation, Deal held up North Carolina and Mississippi, which passed similar legislation, as a warning.
“It’s time to take another deep breath. I see what’s happening in North Carolina. I see what’s happening in Mississippi,” said Deal, who is absent from the fundraising invite. “And I would hope that many of the ones that are pushing for it would not want the state of Georgia to go through that kind of scenario.”