For a few hours on Tuesday, downtown Clayton felt like th center of the political universe. North Carolina’s newly-inaugurated Goveror, Pat McCrory, came to town to shake the Jones Street crowd, although we find it almost ironic that his first stop in Clayton was Jones Restaurant.
But McCrory wasn’t likely to see too many $600 suits in Jones Restaurant, which is why his handlers brought him here.
That didn’t mean he wasn’t likely to get an earful about what people want to see from their state government.
And that’s exactly what McCrory heard.
As much as we might like to think Clayton is unique – and it is in many ways – the basic needs and worries people in Clayton have are much like the needs and worries of regular folks all over the state. People in Kenly, Smithfield, Williamston, Mocksville or any other small town in North Carolina have many of the same questions McCrory heard in Clayton on Tuesday.
Even though the economy has stabalized somewhat, people are concerned about keeping their jobs. Those who have already lost them are staring at a reduction in unemployment pay, despite the fact that they paid into the system all the while they were working.
Businesses - at least those on Main Street like McCrory visited are not so overwhelmed by taxes that they can’t make ends meet. They worry more about being able to take care of their loyal employees and ensuring their future than they do incremental decreases in taxes. McCrory didn’t dine with any of corporate types who normally have his ear.
It will be interesting to see if McCrory pays attention to the concerns he hears in places like downtown Clayton.
While those business people are a lot less likely to line his re-election campaign warchest, they are vitally important to his political future and, if he listens well, he can work with a friendly legislature to make sound changes to governmental models rather than wildly wielding a hachet against every line item in the budget.