NC political leaders still separated on mask-wearing but encourage vaccinations


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Less than 24 hours after the CDC’s new guidance on mask-wearing, Republicans like North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger were already using it to raise money.  

“And this is where the pushback from Phil Berger and other people is going to be really problematic because people are left very confused,” said David McLennan, professor of political science at Meredith College in Raleigh.

Confused and defiant.

If Gov. Roy Cooper (D) issues new COVID-related mandates due to the surge in cases, will it sway people?

“The question is do people become so embedded in how they view this that they are willing to sacrifice, literally, their lives to be proven right or to hold on to their political beliefs,” said Michael Bitzer, professor of politics and history at Campbell University.

The North Carolina governor retains broad executive authority as we saw when Cooper shut down much of the state in 2020.  

Any potential attempt by the GOP-led General Assembly to strip Cooper of that authority would die on the governor’s desk.  

“Even though they may face a gubernatorial veto it could be for political dynamics and political show to say we are advocating on your behalf even though these concerns are rampant among their base voters,” said Bitzer.

While divided on mask-wearing, Republican and Democratic leadership have stood together to encourage vaccination.

But, to no avail for many.

“I think people have made up their minds, they’re polarized, people who follow the anti-mask, anti-vaxing point of view it’s hard to imagine what it would take to get them to take a different point of view,” said McLennan.

This go around, the people who agreed with last year’s restrictions, may not this time.

“I think a lot of people do feel like they did the right thing for over a year and now to be threatened with mask mandates or even partial shutdowns or at least restrictions it’s a hard sell,” said McLennan.

Bitzer added, “they are looking at the other side and saying why should we be penalized for doing what the public health officials wanted, why aren’t we going after the unvaccinated.”

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