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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper Interview

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham
The Truth Network Radio
June 15, 2023 5:03 pm

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper Interview

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham

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June 15, 2023 5:03 pm

The Governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, joins the show to discuss the new North Carolina sports betting bill that was passed, this week, his experience at the NASCAR Allstar Race at North Wilkesboro, Wake Forest baseball, the possibility of an Major League Baseball team coming to North Carolina, and his desire to be a sports commentator.


Nowadays, it's hard to find things that are truly bipartisan, have bipartisan support, but there are sports fans on both the left and right sides of the aisle. And just in the past month, Triad sports fans saw the effect of the $18 million allocated towards North Wilkesboro Speedway with NASCAR's return for the All-Star race last month. To the old track in yesterday, the signing of the sports wagering bill came into effect. And the man who signed that bill and pushed for North Wilkesboro is the governor of the state of North Carolina.

That is Governor Roy Cooper, who joins us on WSJS. Now, Governor, between racing, the Carolina Hurricanes and this bill, how much have sports been top of mind lately? Sports is always top of mind with me, Josh, just like you. I am just a regular sports fan.

I have been ever since I could walk. Sports has always attracted me, loving to play, loving to watch it, loving to think about it, and to get to be governor of North Carolina and to try and make a difference in the sports entertainment industry, which I think helps our economy a great deal, but also just to be involved in sports has been one of the most exciting things about being governor. And being at North Wilkesboro and remembering going there years ago with the grass growing up, but there was always eternal optimism. There was always hope in the Wilkesboro community that this thing could happen. And when it did, leading up to it, seeing the community to come out there and pulling up weeds and scraping paint and being hands-on involved in bringing this iconic place back to life and actually seeing the NASCAR All-Star race in North Wilkesboro in my great jacket that everybody wants, it's just such a fantastic day.

And actually an entire month leading up to the day, but particularly the last week and that day, that afternoon of the race was pretty spectacular. Two quick follow-ups to that. Is the jacket going to be worn again? And did you get any moonshine when you were in North Wilkesboro? Yes and yes. Legal though.

All tax pay, just so you know. I actually went to the place they call the shack where Junior Johnson and his guys back in the day talked about the taxi service that they provided to certain people and going in and being shown that and then pulling the picture back on the wall and seeing the now legal moonshine back in there. It was hysterical for one thing, but it just reminds us of the beginning and it's why it's so great to have our moonshine to motorsports trail that we're now talking about all over the globe. That was one of the great things about North Wilkesboro is that there were people there from 50 states, from 8 different countries. It put North Carolina and North Wilkesboro as the center of attention. I'm hoping that NASCAR will come back soon with the all-star race.

The reviews that I have seen are outstanding across the board from the drivers, from the owners, from the fans, from television. I think people really hit the mark with this, bringing back this place that had been part of people's lives. I was out just walking with the fans.

I'd have people come up to me sometimes with a tear in their eyes saying, I used to come here as a child and I cannot believe that we're back today. When you think about all of the money that it's going to bring into the state and all the great things that I think they're going to be able to have there, not just racing, but other events, concerts, and major events that they can have there, it's going to be a great boost to the triad, to the rural economy, and our entire state. Roy Cooper, Governor Roy Cooper, joining us on WSJS. To link it to the bill you signed yesterday, North Wilkesboro Speedway, one of the eight sports venues that will have permission to have a sports book in the state of North Carolina, at least the eight that we know right now. But the lottery commission, they have between now and January 8th, sometime between then and next June is when we expect to get mobile sports betting live.

You called it a mammoth task yesterday in your comments. Help our audience understand what makes it such a massive hurdle, and do you expect betting to become live closer to that January 8th date or closer to the time in the calendar we sit right now next year? It's hard to say, but I know that they're going to work hard to do it as fast as they possibly can, because we certainly want to turn the tap on as quickly as possible. But also it needs to be done right. This is an undertaking that's never happened in our state before, so it has to be implemented. They have to issue the licenses.

They have to set up their rules and regs to make sure that it works properly, working with the Department of Commerce, with the Department of Revenue, making sure that the taxpayers get their fair share. But when this thing turns on, I think it's going to be great for jobs in our state. I think it's going to help grow the professional sports that we already have, and I think it's going to be very positive for North Carolina. It's important for them to do it right, because we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars, and we need to make sure that the system is run fairly and that the taxpayers get their fair share and that this thing ends up being fun for everybody. Obviously, this thing got shot down last year in the North Carolina Senate, and to sports fans it was kind of confounding, because the role of democracy at its core is, hey, what's elect officials and elect politicians that will do the things that people want?

And polls that WRAL has done for years have suggested that people want legal sports betting, and it didn't happen. What is the strongest pushback or the strongest rebuke that you acknowledge on the other side for why there are some that didn't want this to happen? Well, we've had a lot of bipartisan successes in North Carolina, from Medicaid expansion to some of the greatest job growth in the history of our state, with the legislature trusting my office and me with performance-based incentives, getting clean energy legislation in place.

We've continued to work together on a lot of things. This sports wagering was a true bipartisan effort here, but Josh, there was also bipartisan opposition. There were people who were opposed to it on moral grounds, and there were people who were opposed to it because they believed that it could prey on people. There are people with addiction problems and problem-gambling, and it's one of the reasons why significant funding is going to go from the revenue to the Department of Health and Human Services to help people with that.

Let's face it, sports wagering is going on right now in North Carolina. Better for us to regulate it, put in safeguards, provide funding to help people get treatment that they need. So I think that the bipartisan work to get it passed was also met by bipartisan resistance and why it took so long and why it took such hard work to finally get it done. But I'm glad that we did, and I think it's a positive move for our state. Our state's governor, Roy Cooper, joining us on WSJS.

One more note from your comments yesterday. You said, and I'm quoting, we still have some holes we need to fill in our professional sports arena. It seems like you might be talking about baseball, and obviously there's been talk about expansion and relocation of the Rays in that sport. The A's are currently being moved right now from Oakland to Las Vegas. Do you think there's enough demand for that in North Carolina, and what city do you think would be the best fit for Major League Baseball? Obviously, we hope that there is. I believe that North Carolina can make a Major League Baseball team successful. Hey, and how about the Rays? That would be fantastic.

Just come in hot, come in good. We obviously have the Triangle, the Triad, and the Charlotte area, all that are potential. And as you know, a few decades ago, Greensboro tried it.

Yeah, it could not get a vote done that they needed done. But I do believe that it could happen here. It is the hole that I see that I would want to fill at some point here in North Carolina. What it's going to take is a strong group or person who want to own a team and want to bring it here.

They can do their market analysis. Obviously, when you're talking about baseball, you're talking about 81 home games a year, plus you have playoffs, plus all kinds of other competition. So it's a big deal to locate a baseball team here. But I think you would find a willing government to work with a team that wants to come to North Carolina.

For example, out of the sports wagering bill, there's going to be money going into the major attractions and sports fund, part of the money to help to lure major events here. North Carolina has become such a great place for the U.S. Open, the PGA Tour, the President's Cup. There's work down in Charlotte to bring professional tennis here. We've got the Hurricanes and Panthers and Hornets and the Carolina Courage and Charlotte FC is really taking off down in Charlotte. There's a lot of professional sports going on now, generating a lot of jobs, a lot of revenue and creating a lot of jobs in our state. And so we ought to try and facilitate that.

And it would be fun, don't you think? It would be so much fun to have a major league baseball team here. Well, I've got you. Speaking of baseball, have you had a chance to watch the top-ranked Wake Forest baseball team who is in Omaha? I mean, you know this is going to go out there and people are going to see you who are on the team getting set to play on Saturday. So rev them up, Governor. You got Wake Forest going for it.

You know what? I am ready for those Deacons to do it. My dad is a Wake Forest grad. And just so Wake Forest fans will know, they will appreciate this. When my dad went to his 50-year Wake Forest class reunion, it was a relatively small class. Everybody gave speeches. My dad said that all of the speeches were boring. My dad got up and said, I am embarrassed to admit that both of my sons attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and I hang my head in shame.

He got a standing ovation. I still see people to this day saying, I heard your dad that day. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But if my dad were alive, he would love this moment of those Demon Deacons getting to the college baseball World Series. I know my Tar Heels have broken our hearts a number of times, particularly when they did two years in a row and made the championship series two years in a row against the Oregon State Beavers and blew it both times. But this Wake Forest team, wow, can they hit the ball.

Oh my gosh, they can hit the ball. So this will be fun. And Josh, I am so sorry. I was so busy. I had a yellow tie out that I was going to switch up a goldish yellow tie that I have and I forgot to do it. I'm an East Carolina graduate. It would have meant a lot to me to see the yellow tie.

I'll do that for you. I already have this on social media anyway, already caught in grief from a lot of Tar Heels about it. So East Carolina is so I grew up in eastern North Carolina. I know you moved to Youngsville, right? Yeah, I'm a Youngsville boy, went to East Carolina.

Yeah. And I grew up in Nashville, the county seat of Nash County, and used to go to Lewisburg College Basketball School when I was a kid. People in eastern North Carolina know what East Carolina means to all of eastern North Carolina. It is an amazing institution giving education to so many students, but also the fantastic medical center that is there that is making a real difference in the lives of people, particularly those who are suffering from lack of health care in our rural areas. So you should be proud of that. I'm certainly proud of East Carolina and what it's done for my part of the state, which is eastern North Carolina.

Shout out to Vidant. I know better than to ask you, being where I'm at, which type of barbecue you prefer, whether it's eastern or Lexington, but instead I will ask you, when's your dad graduate from Wake Forest? Ah, it's the 50s.

I can't remember. He went to campus when it was actually in the town of Wake Forest. Right, right where I'm from. Before it moved to Winston-Salem.

Shorty's hot dogs. Yeah, that was always Arnold Palmer's favorite. That's right.

That's right. And my dad was just a huge Wake Forest fan and would get his heart broken a lot, too. But he would enjoy the times when Wake Forest would take care of the Tar Heels.

And that would happen more than I wanted, particularly on the basketball court with so many Wake Forest greats. Hey, it's eastern North Carolina barbecue. I don't mind telling you. This is where I grew up. You can go to Doug Saul's in Nashville right at you. You can drive down from Franklin County and get fantastic barbecue there. But I love, hey, when I go to the Monk, when I'm in Lexington, I go to Lexington Barbecue. They have so many great restaurants there.

It is fantastic. It's good that we were finally able to do this, Governor. I already got things written down for next time. We'll give you a chance to rant about the Canes, Purple Tie.

Maybe we're talking about Major League Baseball in North Carolina. A lot of other things written down for next time. This is my afterlife. When I get out of public service, I want to go into sportscasting. So you know that I did a period with Tripp and Mike Mannis calling a Canes game. And I go on Joe and Joe every now and then. So I keep telling them I'm coming for their jobs. And you look like you're just set there in the Triad. So I probably can't challenge you.

Don't take my job. I would appreciate that. In the meantime, keep up. Sports fans, you're earning a lot of votes when it comes to sports fans listening, particularly in the Triad with everything that you've done. Thank you for making the time for us, Governor. And I hope we can do it again sometime down the line. Fine, Josh. Thanks a lot.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-15 21:03:01 / 2023-06-15 21:09:14 / 6

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