North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper's press shop was working late last night to convince the capitol press corps that the first term Democrat wants to hammer out a budget compromise with Republican legislative leaders.
Cooper reportedly scheduled a news conference to be held today, and then invited GOP leaders to meet just prior to that press event.
The Republican Senate leader - Phil Berger - called out this bad faith cynicism for what it is:
In Raleigh, the rumors are flying that Cooper has been issuing not-so-subtle threats against Democratic lawmakers - promising primary challenges against lawmakers who vote to override his budget veto.
Republicans are hammering Cooper for his tactic - issuing statements like:
"Gov. Cooper’s Veto of Budget Jeopardizes Vital Funding for Areas Ravaged by Hurricane Florence: Without veto override, $94.1 million earmarked for disaster recovery would disappear"
"Gov. Cooper Prioritizes Health Care for Able Bodied Adults Over Funding to Clear the Rape Kit Backlog and Implement “Raise the Age”"
So, this is the backdrop against which this theater is being performed.
Cue Cooper's comms guy, Ford Porter - who responded to News & Observer reporter Lauren Horsch's tweet:
"Yes the Governor will present a compromise proposal. Yes,he’s prepared to publicly answer questions about it tomorrow. Meanwhile, NCGA GOP are still apparently refusing to negotiate, instead making their entire budget about threats and earmarks. Pretty astounding really."
Sen. Berger's general counsel, Brent Woodcox, replied:
"Negotiating through the media is not negotiating. It’s grandstanding and political posturing. The Governor’s game playing doesn’t get teachers and state employees raises. It doesn’t fund disaster relief. It doesn’t get rape kits tested. It’s time to get a budget."
Prompting this response from Cooper's Communications Director, Sadie Weiner:
"First of all this is rich from the crew who tried to “negotiate” by letters. Second of all, it wouldn’t be through the media if GOP leaders accepted the negotiation meeting offer for tmrw AM."
"Every day that @RoyCooperNC schedules another press conference is a day that our prisons are less safe because safety equipment is unfunded. A day that schools are not being built because the Governor vetoed new construction money. We need a budget. Quit playing games."
"Oh but you’re missing the point. He’s trying to have a meeting with the GOP leaders. They’re not accepting. The press conference is because all the #ncpol reporters want to know what sort of compromise the Gov is trying to offer."
"Oh no. I get the point. The Governor is terrified that members of his party are abandoning his sinking ship before he takes them under with this misguided Medicaid ultimatum. So he is desperate for some contrived ploy to distract from the turmoil in his caucus."
This morning, Gov. Cooper held his news conference and said Republicans are essentially trying to bribe Democratic lawmakers with local projects in exchange for support of the budget - and overriding Cooper's veto. The Governor said his budget "compromise" proposal includes all of those projects, so Democrats don't need to abandon him in order to get their pork for their districts.
This strikes me as an admission that Cooper is trying to keep Democrats in line. Remember, if no budget is adopted then the current budget simply continues. Which means those local projects don't get funded.