North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is neither foolish nor radical. He is a Democrat in a state that has voted Republican in 13 of the past 14 presidential elections, so Cooper knows he owes his two victories more to the kookiness and incoherence of the Tar Heel GOP than any emerging progressive majority.
In an evenly divided state—it has seven Republicans and seven Democrats in its House delegation and went for Donald Trump over Joe Biden 50-49 three years ago—being inoffensive and competent goes a long way if the other side is … troubled.
But Cooper is ambitious, which is why, term-limited after his 2020 re-election, he positioned himself to become chairman of the Democratic Governors Association last year. Once atop it, however, he was faced with some unhappy work in a midterm year when the prevailing winds were—at least initially—blowing hard against his party.
That meant supporting a variety of candidates ranging from party-switching moderates to far-out progressive activists depending on the state and the race. It also meant endorsing and working with people who are his opposites: fools and radicals.