Editorial: The long knives for Roy

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It’s getting hard out there for family-values Republicans in the Old North State. Sure, they’ve got a majority in both houses of the General Assembly, and it looks like they’ve been able to neutralize any inklings their governor, Pat McCrory, had towards being his own man.

We saw that when he cowed to GOP demands that historic tax credits — the same ones that allow cities to rebuild their aging infrastructure, like in, say, Charlotte, where McCrory made his name as a progressive Republican mayor — to sunset in the new state budget.

But now we see all of their good work beginning to unravel. State Budget Director Art Pope, whose overtly generous campaign contributions to Republican candidates might have had something to do with his appointment to the post, stepped down after unleashing his masterpiece on the citizens of North Carolina.

And a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals judge deemed Virginia’s marriage amendment — one that discriminated against Americans who choose to share their lives with partners of the same sex — unconstitutional. Because the Fourth Circuit also covers North Carolina, state Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that he wouldn’t be defending similar legislation in his jurisdiction.

That was enough for Carteret County tea partiers and state Sen. Norm Sanderson (R-Pamlico) to put the wheels of impeachment in motion, according to the News-Times.

But now we see all of their good work beginning to unravel.

The lobbying group NC Values Coalition has hopped on board with a scathing piece by Tami Fitzgerald sent to media outlets accusing Cooper of “lawlessness” and being “brazenly defiant” in his interpretation of the decision, as if a state has the right to limit its citizens’ civil rights with nothing more than a simple — emphasis on the simple — majority vote.

So the long knives are out for Cooper, who is a sure bet to run for governor as McCrory’s term expires at the end of 2016. Already Cooper has positioned himself against the rhetoric-driven opposition with his stance on the marriage amendment, and his insistence that the decision by the Republican-controlled legislature to refuse Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act was “absolutely wrong.”

And when they try to impeach him, which Sanderson says will happen when Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis give the go-ahead, it may be the single best campaign moment for the candidate who dares to take a stand — calculated as it may be — against the haters giving our state a bad name.