The intersection of policy and politics

Published January 30, 2019

By Brad Crone

by Brad Crone, Communications consultant and NC SPIN panelist, January 30, 2019.

With North Carolina’s State Legislature in full swing, people who pay attention to the workings of the General Assembly are closely watching the recent news from the Division of Motor Vehicles and their plans to move from Raleigh to Rocky Mount.

The news broke on the eve of the first working day of the long session.  The DMV announcement was a big poke in the eye for longtime State Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, who is one of the longest serving lawmakers in the building – not to mention the fact that he was the first African-American Speaker of the NC House.

Sen. Blue’s constituents are a major block of the workers who will be impacted by such a move.  It’s obvious that Sen. Blue did not find any humor in the plans to ship the jobs out of his district to Nash County.  Sen. Blue argues that most DMV workers won’t be able to transfer from Raleigh to Rocky Mount because they can’t afford the cost of commuting.

Sen. Blue had been quietly working behind the scenes to address the facility concerns while maintaining the DMV jobs in his district.  Now, the issue is full, out-in-the-open warfare.  It is not lost on most observers that DMV waited until the opening of the long session to make their announcement – basically issuing a challenge to Sen. Blue and the Democratic delegation for Wake County.

It looks like DMV is willing to pick a fight with a key ally in the State Senate and that makes for bad optics in the Democrat political prism.

Governor Cooper will need Senator Blue to help him whip votes for Veto Overrides. The Division of Motor Vehicles is picking a very open fight in the heart of Sen. Blue’s district. The DMV move undercuts Sen. Blue and his constituents in a major way and that becomes very problematic for the Governor.

How the DMV issues plays out will allow the politicos to witness the intersection of policy and politics in the Capital City.  DMV vs Dan Blue.  Governor Cooper versus Dan Blue.  The intrigue will almost be intoxicating. Sen. Blue is a longtime insider – he knows the game as well as Cooper and it will be absolutely fascinating to see what deals Sen. Blue will cut to get what he wants.

I predict DMV will learn the lesson that you never count out Dan Blue.