North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's (R) debate with state Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) over the state's restrictive new voting laws continued on Monday, with McCrory warning Cooper over expressing his own conflicted feelings over defending the legislation against a lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department.
"Regarding the attorney general, my only comment regarding this is he can have his personal opinion but as a lawyer he should not publicize your personal opinion if you're going to be defending the people who are promoting this common-sense law," Talking Points Memo quoted McCrory as saying on Monday. "Good lawyers don't do that."
McCrory has not confirmed whether he will run for re-election in 2016, but his campaign would face a challenge from Cooper. WTIN-TV reported on Oct. 7 that Cooper has been meeting with Democratic Party supporters in the state and planning his own campaign.
The Justice Department has been openly critical of the state's new voting regulations, which include a mandate for separate voter identification cards, greater opportunities for "poll observer" groups to station themselves at polling sites and bans on same-day registration and voter registration drives run under the state's auspices.
Though McCrory has stated the new rules were driven by concerns over voting fraud, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has rebuked that theory, saying earlier this year that, "It pains me to see the voting rights of my fellow citizens negatively impacted by actions predicated on a rationale that is tenuous at best – and on concerns that we all know are not, in fact, real."
The Raleigh News & Observer reported on Oct. 1 that Cooper also asked McCrory not to sign the new law into effect, and that his comments calling the voter ID requirement "unnecessary, expensive and burdensome" and the measure itself "regressive" have been cited in the federal lawsuit against the state.
Yet Cooper also refused to let McCrory's administration hire outside representation, arguing, "There have been a number of laws that I have disagreed with personally that our staff has defended in court successfully. I consider it part of my duties as attorney general to weigh in on important public policy issues. But under the law it is our duty to defend the state when it is sued. We will continue to do that."