McCrory, Cooper face off in first NC Gubernatorial debate - | WBTV Charlotte

McCrory, Cooper face off in first NC Gubernatorial debate

Governor Pat McCrory (left) and Attorney General Roy Cooper (right). (WBTV/File) Governor Pat McCrory (left) and Attorney General Roy Cooper (right). (WBTV/File)

Tuesday night candidates running for governor of North Carolina faced off in their first debate. Republican Governor Pat McCrory and Democrat Attorney General Roy Cooper are in a heated race for office. 

It was expected to be an election night nail-biter.

McCrory, who is also a former mayor of Charlotte, is hoping to earn a second term. Cooper is trying to unseat him.

Charlotte was expected to be a likely topic of several key points in the political showdown. The Queen City has been the focal point of major national stories recently, including House Bill 2 and the recent violent protests over the officer-involved shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott.

At Davidson College, political science professor Susan Roberts said she thinks the debate is not on people’s radars. Both Democrats and Republicans said there were no official watch parties here in the Charlotte area.

“It’s just off the radar. Whether it’s debate fatigue from Sunday night or disappointment from the Panthers. I don’t think you’re going to have a large crowd except for one factor,” said Roberts.

Roberts said moderator Chuck Todd of show "Meet the Press" is the one factor that could increase interest in the debate for North Carolina governor.

“He is going to bring up HB2 - he has before. He’ll bring up voter rights acts, which North Carolina has been in the center of that, and you know he’ll bring up Pat McCrory and support for Donald Trump. That’s a given. I just want to see what time in the debate he brings that up,” Roberts said.

There could be undecided voters who are tuning in. Roberts said that according to polls, Cooper is leading McCrory by just four points.

“McCrory is on defense and Cooper’s on offense,” Roberts said.

Roberts said McCrory has to play defense because he is the incumbent.

“He is going to be defending his record and talking about progress. And Roy Cooper is going to be looking at McCrory at the helm of a very conservative state legislature. And play off the fact that McCrory hasn’t been able to really control for lack of a smaller word the state legislature,” Roberts said.

She said McCrory and Cooper will be nothing like presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

“I think that people that are expecting that kind of debate - or something like the last two Clinton-Trump debates - will be disappointed. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think it’s a nice thing that it’s not theatrics, insults and innuendo. I don’t think that many people will be watching the debates,” Roberts said.

Roberts said she believes voters are getting much of their information from ads. 

She said the debate will make national news because there is interest in North Carolina. There is one more scheduled debate next Tuesday, October 18.

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