Charlotte: `All These Buildings’ — Government Did Build That

Photograph by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Visitors test their pit stop skills at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Democrats are holding their political convention in the urban landscape of Charlotte, North Carolina, which is studded with more than $800 million worth of public projects that wouldn’t exist without local Republicans.

The Time Warner Cable Arena, the Lynx light-rail line, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and an expansion of the Charlotte Convention Center were approved by bipartisan majorities under Republican Mayor Pat McCrory, who held the office from 1995 to 2009.

“That’s kind of ironic, isn’t it?” McCrory said in a phone interview yesterday as he traveled east from Charlotte to Lumberton as part of his campaign for North Carolina governor with a Democratic National Convention underway in his home town. “I’m not hearing my name mentioned, but that’s OK.”

McCrory, 55, spent his time as mayor urging public investment in infrastructure, especially in the urban core locals call “uptown” Charlotte that is the center of convention activity.

Companies with headquarters in the city, including Bank of America Corp. and Duke Energy Corp., supported the city’s efforts, which occurred as the population grew by 48 percent to more than 711,000 during McCrory’s tenure, according to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.

“Over the years, I think bipartisanship has helped build all these buildings,” said David Howard, a Democrat on the Charlotte City Council. “They couldn’t have gotten it done without the votes and the support of the Democrats.”

McCrory’s willingness to spend public money on major construction projects runs counter to the rhetoric from national Republicans, who say government needs to be smaller and spend less money.

“The national political scene has changed dramatically, which is why McCrory is campaigning far to the right of how he governed in Charlotte,” said Mary Newsom, associate director for urban and regional affairs at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. “He’s having to campaign in a way that gives him credibility with the extreme right wing of the Republican Party.”

For the full report on Charlotte, read Richard Rubin at

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