Roy Cooper is the Democratic Governor of North Carolina. However, there are some people out there who might be more familiar with him because of his time as the Attorney General of North Carolina, which was before he challenged the Republican incumbent in the 2016 gubernatorial election. Currently, Cooper is overseeing the reopening of his state, which is now on Phase 2 of a multi-phase reopening plan.
1. Born in Nashville, NC
Cooper was born in the town of Nashville in North Carolina, which is very much not the same as the city of Nashville in Tennessee. However, there is something of a connection between the two because both were named for Francis Nash, a notable figure in North Carolina politics who commanded the North Carolina brigade in George Washington’s Continental Army during the American Revolution. He was killed at the Battle of Germantown when he was hit in the hip by a cannonball.
2. Spent His Schooltime Summers Working on a Tobacco Farm
When Cooper was still a student, both he and his brother spent their summers working on a tobacco farm. The tobacco farm had been in the Cooper family for years and years. However, it wasn’t their main source of income, as shown by how Cooper’s mother was a school-teacher while Cooper’s father split his time between farming and practicing law. In any case, tobacco has played an important role in North Carolina’s agricultural sector for a long time, so much so that the state is still the leading tobacco producer in the country.
3. Went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
In time, Cooper went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Said school is the flagship of the University of North Carolina system as well as counted as one of the Public Ivies, meaning that it possesses an excellent reputation. There, Cooper earned both a Bachelor of Arts and a Juris Doctor.
4. Involved in State Politics
Upon graduation, Cooper spent some time practicing law at his family’s law firm. However, it wasn’t too long before he became involved in state politics, as shown by his election to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1986. Later, Cooper was named to the North Carolina Senate in 1991 to serve out the remainder of the term for a seat that was vacated, which was followed by him being elected the Democratic Majority Leader of the North Carolina Senate in 1997. Having said that, it should be mentioned that he was still practicing law throughout this period as a managing partner.
5. Served As Attorney General of North Carolina From 2001 to 2017
In total, Cooper served as the Attorney General of North Carolina from 2001 to 2017. During this time, his name was brought up as a potential candidate for a number of other positions, but he chose to pass up on said opportunities. Instead, Cooper locked down the position of Attorney General of North Carolina, as shown by how he ran unopposed for his fourth term in the elections in November of 2012.
6. Dismissed the Duke Lacrosse Case
Naturally, Cooper was involved in a number of high-profile incidents as the Attorney General of North Carolina. For instance, he was the one who dismissed the Duke lacrosse case in April of 2007 because the Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong asked to be recused in January of 2007. This happened because the North Carolina State Bar filed ethics charges against Nifong, thus resulting in him becoming the first prosecutor in the state to be disbarred for trial conduct in June of 2007. It turned out that said individual had not been very honest about the case, as shown by how he spent a day in jail for criminal contempt.
7. Helped Pass a Law to Require the Recording of Involuntary Commitments
Speaking of which, Cooper was the one who created the Campus Safety Task Force for the purpose of analyzing school shootings in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007. Later, the findings were used to pass a state law that required court clerks to record involuntary commitments in a national database for gun permits.
8. Audited the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation Because of an Exoneration
In 2010, a panel of three judges exonerated a man named George Taylor for the first-degree murder of Jaquetta Thomas. Apparently, officials at the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation’s forensic lab had withheld information, which prompted Cooper to launch an audit. Disturbingly, it turned out that a group of agents had made a common practice of withholding information on top of failing to keep up with the latest in scientific standards. Due to this, they tainted close to 230 cases, thus resulting in the convictions of three individuals who were executed as well as 80 individuals who were still in prison at the time of the audit.
9. Challenged the Gubernatorial Incumbent Because of House Bill 2
One of the main reasons that Cooper ran against the Republican incumbent Pat McCrory in the 2016 North Carolina gubernatorial election was the Public Facilities Privacy & Securities Act, which might be better-known to interested individuals under the name “House Bill 2.” Said statute provoked a huge uproar because it forced schools as well as other public facilities to prevent people from using single-gender washrooms unless the sex listed on their birth certificate corresponded, meaning that it discriminated against transgender people. Cooper refused to defend House Bill 2 because he considered it to be unconstitutional. Moreover, he benefited from McCrory’s crumbling approval ratings caused by the economic hits from numerous corporations boycotting the state.
10. His Phase 2 Is More Modest than Planned
Cooper’s Phase 2 is more modest than planned, which might be surprising to some because his state has done relatively well. However, his explanation for this is very simple and straightforward. In short, North Carolina has done relatively well because people have been listening to the state government’s recommendations, but there has been a continuing increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. As such, he wants to remain cautious while the state opens up bit by bit.