RALEIGH — A major cable television network and one of the nation’s leading mainstream newspapers both mentioned N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper this week as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.
Like current President Joe Biden, Cooper is a Democrat. No one is speculating that Cooper would challenge a Biden re-election bid.
But both the New York Times and CNN listed the N.C. governor while discussing the possibility that Biden might not seek a second term in the White House.
“Term-limited out of office in 2024, the North Carolina governor has ample time to consider his next step — starting with his service as the vice chairman of the Democratic Governors Association,” wrote CNN about Cooper. He is slated to chair the Democratic governors group in 2022.
The network listed Cooper in the No. 5 spot among 11 potential replacements for Biden on the 2024 Democratic presidential ticket. Vice President Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota appeared before Cooper on that list. Other candidates CNN considered were former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
“Combine President Joe Biden’s age (he’ll be 82 shortly after the 2024 election) and his ongoing political struggles (he’s mired in the low 40s in job approval) and you get this: a series of stories examining whether Biden runs again and, if not, who might take his place,” wrote CNN’s Chris Cillizza Monday.
Cillizza labeled the 11 names on his list “the most commonly mentioned names for 2024 contenders.”
The CNN piece also referenced the New York Times’ Sunday article, which described Democrats as “solidly behind Biden” with “no consensus about a Plan B.”
The story from Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns started with Cooper, speaking in New Orleans.
“Addressing reporters at a meeting of the Democratic Governors Association, Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina gave an emphatic answer when asked whether he expected President Biden to seek a second term — and whether he believed that was in the best interests of his party.”
“’I do and I do,’ Mr. Cooper said on Friday.”
After reporting Cooper’s plan to support Biden and to help “win North Carolina for him,” the Times reporters shifted directions.
“But just three minutes later, Mr. Cooper — the only Democratic governor to twice win a state that former President Donald J. Trump carried on the same ballot — was sketching out what could be the makings of a Cooper for President message to primary voters,” the Times reported.
“Publicly, Mr. Cooper and other Democratic leaders are focused on what will be a difficult 2022 if Mr. Biden’s popularity does not pick up,” the newspaper added. “However, it is 2024 that’s increasingly on the minds of a long roster of ambitious Democrats and their advisers.”
Reporters in North Carolina asked Cooper about the speculation.
“The governor supports President Biden and is focused on ensuring North Carolina emerges from the pandemic even stronger than before and implementing the president’s plans to create better jobs and support families here in our state,” according to a statement issued Monday from Cooper’s office.
“[T]he statement — which came in response to a yes-or-no question: Is he running or not? — didn’t offer a clear answer,” WRAL reported.
Enthusiasm for a Cooper bid might fall off once national Democrats take a closer look at his record, said Mitch Kokai, senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation.
“It’s only natural that pundits would take special notice of a Democrat winning two statewide elections in a state that gave its electoral votes twice to Donald Trump,” Kokai said. “But the election record suggests Gov. Cooper doesn’t have strong coattails. Other than congressional gains tied to lawsuits, Democrats appear to be in no stronger position in North Carolina now than they were when Cooper entered office in 2017.”