Beginning last Thursday, visitors to the lobby of the N.C. Department of Administration might have noticed some changes to the scenery. Specifically, Pat McCrory's face plastered all over it.
Previously, movie posters for films shot in North Carolina, such as Hunger Games, had adorned the walls; now, a poster showing McCrory standing in front of a podium that reads "Teacher Pay to $50K" is framed between two nature portraits. The other side of the lobby shows off two more poster boards: one of McCrory hugging a woman in front of a "Teacher Pay to $50K" sign, another showing him at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
For comparison, the N.C. Department of Justice has no pictures of Roy Cooper in its lobby. In the attorney general's office, the only picture of Cooper is his official portrait, along with portraits of the other forty-seven attorney generals in North Carolina's history.
- Illustration by Steve Oliva
McCrory wouldn't be the first North Carolina elected official to use his office to boost his personal brand. In 2005, Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry ordered that every elevator in the state must have a placard with her picture on it—hence, the nickname "Elevator Queen."
Not surprisingly, McCrory's poster switch has generated criticism from state Democrats, who argue that the governor is blurring the lines between his office and his campaign. It's not the first time, either; back in June, the state Democratic Party requested McCrory's travel records, accusing him of using his state-owned plane to fly to fundraisers.
At a press conference outside of the Department of Administration on Monday, N.C. Democratic Party executive director Kimberly Reynolds said McCrory had gone "full Donald Trump."
"Once again, Governor McCrory is using taxpayer money to campaign for re-election," Reynolds said. "McCrory's propaganda campaign posters look like they were created by Donald Trump himself, prominently featuring McCrory himself and a misleading message."
There's a good reason why McCrory might want to avoid boasting about North Carolina's film industry. As the Raleigh Agenda noted, in 2014, McCrory and the General Assembly let expire a tax credit for the film industry. There were consequences to that decision: Wilmington Regional Film Commission director Johnny Griffin told the INDY last year that, in 2014, film productions brought in $170 million to the local economy; in 2015, they brought in just $90 million.
So instead of using the Department of Administration to remind people of his failures, McCrory has repurposed it to boast about his accomplishments. (Or, rather, "accomplishments": the 50K figure is particularly misleading, as it factors in supplements counties give teachers to make up for inadequate state funding.) Talk about killing two birds with one stone.