Editorial: Meddlesome lawmakers brought this on themselves

Republicans in the General Assembly couldn’t leave well enough alone.

They saw the possibilities, were proactive defensively and then tried to do just a little too much. A little that has now turned into an historic moment.

We can’t recall five living governors in North Carolina joining the one in office to tell lawmakers they’re full of themselves and harming the people of the Old North State. On Monday, Democrats Jim Hunt, Mike Easley and Beverly Purdue stood together with Republicans Jim Martin and Pat McCrory representing the office collectively from 1977 to 2016, sending a message to voters expected to encounter two ballot measures they say are just plain wrong.

The issues are central to the power of the governor. Lawmakers were not surprised all five joined the side of Gov. Roy Cooper, nor were they swayed. They never are, always feeling the moves they make are right for the people of the state.

That’s debate for another date.

What’s at issue here are two amendments, the first related to filling vacant judgeships and the second intended to give the legislature appointment powers over the state elections board.

In presidential-year elections, the coattails of an incoming U.S. president can get long at the ballot box. At the midterms, there can be a rising wave he triggers against his party. A number of political observers have subsequently forecast the polarizing president in Washington from the Grand Old Party is igniting a blue wave come this November.

North Carolina’s Republicans took no chances. Needing to ensure party voters this fall so as not to lose control of a General Assembly that was in the hands of Democrats from the late 1800s to 2010, they put amendments on the ballot. Surely this would bump up participation, they figured, and help them retain their majority, not to mention getting a few things handled the court system so far hasn’t allowed.

But they didn’t trust a three-member panel with two Democrats when it came to the wording of the amendments. So they meddled, or shall we say, they snatched the writing job. Anything worth doing well, the saying goes.

Cooper, a fine attorney general for the state, is arguably the most litigious governor we’ve seen. It’s a tiresome act, though one he feels necessary.

Of all that was said Monday, McCrory did it best. He chastised lawmakers seeking responsibility of the governor’s office, telling them to have courage to run for the office.

Ironically enough, if lawmakers had not hung him out to dry in the state’s woeful HB2 saga, we probably wouldn’t have seen that historic press conference. Or, for that matter, the ballot measures.