After months of hints and rumors that he would make a bid for governor, Attorney General Roy Cooper launched a website Thursday outlining a number of Republican policies that have "waged war on women, minorities and just about anyone else that doesn't think like they do."
The Democratic attorney general and former state senator said he wants to restore North Carolina's reputation as a progressive Southern state after the policies implemented this year by the Republican-led General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory.
"What had taken decades to build is now being torn down right before our eyes. And for many of us, it's personal," Cooper said in a video posted on the website.
While Cooper didn't directly announce a bid for governor in 2016, he said "in the weeks and months ahead, we'll be building an organization from the ground up to take back North Carolina from those who are doing so much harm."
The North Carolina Republican Party quickly responded to the campaign, drawing a parallel between Cooper and the Moral Monday demonstration.
"Roy Cooper is a Moral Monday Democrat following the lead of Rev. William Barber to implement failed liberal big-government policies that will raise taxes, increase unemployment and stifle economic growth," NCGOP spokesman Daniel Keylin said Thursday.
"Neglecting his elected duties, Roy Cooper is actively campaigning on the taxpayers' dime, politicizing the very same laws he has a responsibility to defend in court," Keylin said, referring to Cooper as a "part-time attorney general."
Cooper pointed to legislation that he said has slashed education, made it harder to register and vote, cut unemployment benefits and attacked women's health.
During the last legislative sessions, the General Assembly approved a budget that spent about $322 million less on education than it did in 2008 and 2009. The budget also did not include raises for teachers and phases out tenure protection over the next five years.
The General Assembly also passed a law requiring voters to show a voter identification card at the polls, as well a shortened the early voting window and ended same-day registration. In addition, the measure eliminates a popular high school civics program that encouraged students to register to vote in advance of their 18th birthdays.
Cooper had previously urged McCrory not to sign the election reform bill, saying it was poor policy and would lead to costly litigation. In response, Gov. Pat McCrory, and General Assembly leaders Phil Berger and Thom Tillis hired outside counsel to defend the state in a federal lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice.
It is typically the role of the state attorney general to defend the state's laws during such litigation.
Cooper said he can personally criticize an election overhaul law while ensuring state attorneys from his office robustly defend the same law.
A look at Roy Cooper
Cooper, 56, served in the North Carolina Senator, 1991-2001, and House of Representative, 1987-1991. He has served as Attorney General since 2001
Cooper was a Morehead Scholar at UNC, graduating in 1979. He also attended UNC for law school.
Cooper on key issues
* As attorney general, he increased DNA testing of crime scene evidence and pushed to include all felons in the state's criminal database, according to his website.
* He tweeted on Jan. 27, " Until we get serious about teacher pay raises, more and more will answer these ads" referencing ads luring teachers to Virginia.
* His office recently released an advisory opinion on immigrants' rights, saying, " Young immigrants who are legal residents of North Carolina because of their protected status under federal law are nonetheless not entitled to in-state tuition rates on the same basis as other legal residents."
* Has accused Republicans of undermining progress in North Carolina. In Guilford County, the AP quoted him as saying,"In just nine short months, they have set out to deliberately and systematically undo 50 years of progress. This is not the North Carolina that any of us recognizes."
* On the Voter ID bill, Cooper wrote in a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory he "strongly opposed" the new measures, which he said would severely restrict working people's opportunities to vote early and on weekends, prevent new voters from pre-registering and stop people from voting if they show up at the wrong polling place by mistake. Cooper also warned the changes were highly likely to face court challenges. After McCrory signed the bill into law, Cooper released another statement on Aug. 12 reiterating his position.
* Under fire from Republicans for some of his stances, Cooper insisted in September it is his duty as both an elected official and legal professional to vigorously defend the state, even if he personally disagrees with arguments made by his office in court.
Sunday, August 31 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-31 19:28:29 GMT
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