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1-on-1 with Pat McCrory: His senate run, his stance on HB2 now

Political analysts: NC Senate race will be one of the most watched and most expensive races, as the senate is currently evenly split 50 democrats to 50 republicans.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — “I’m in" -- Pat McCrory has announced his return to politics.

In an announcement made on his WBT radio show Monday, McCrory said he’s running for the US Senate. Prior to his ambitions in Washington, McCrory served as Charlotte’s mayor from 1995- 2009 and then as North Carolina’s governor from 2012-16.

In his race for the Senate, McCrory joins a handful of candidates hoping to fill the seat left empty by Senator Richard Burr in 2022.

Political analysts predict the race will likely be one of the most-watched and most expensive races we see, as the Senate is currently evenly split 50 democrats to 50 republicans.

Among those running are Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, a Republican, Former N.C. Sen. Erica Smith, a Democrat, State Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Democrat, virologist Richard Watkins, a Democrat, Libertarian Shannon Bray, a veteran, Independent Kimrey Rhinehardt, Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton, a Democrat, Jen Banwart, a Republican.

RELATED: Former NC Gov. Pat McCrory announces bid for US Senate in 2022

“Of any Republican or Democrat considering to get in the race, I’m the best for the job,” McCrory said in an interview with WCNC. “I’m the only one who knows North Carolina inside and out from the coast all the way to the mountains and I’m the one who has made tough decisions, not just balance budgets but eliminate terrible deficits.”

If he makes it to Washington, McCrory said he’ll use his experience to address issues around transportation, infrastructure and protecting the border.

“I understand these issues because I’ve had to deal with them as both a mayor and as a governor and I’ve dealt with them successfully,” he said.

But the race for the senate seat is expected to be a battle. On Monday, Democrats were quick to respond to McCrory’s bid. In a statement, Bobbie Richardson, Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) issued the following statement:

“North Carolinians remember exactly who Pat McCrory is -- a failed politician who signed hateful and divisive legislation into law, hurt our national reputation, and damaged our state’s economy. From his toxic record blocking Medicaid expansion, signing a monster voter suppression bill, and serving his wealthy special interest donors over hardworking North Carolinians, to his multiple statewide losses, it’s clear that Pat McCrory is wrong for our state. North Carolinians voted him out of office in 2016 because of that failed record. We have some free advice -- don’t quit your day job, Pat.”

Part of that statement in regard to HB2, otherwise known as the bathroom bill, which prohibited transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity in schools and government buildings. 

According to an Associated Press analysis the bill was estimated to cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years.

The bill was later overturned after McCrory lost his reelection bid to current Governor Roy Cooper in 2016.

“I’ve moved on and so has Charlotte, thank God,” McCrory said Monday.

And now, five years after signing HB2 into law, McCrory says is taking a different stance.  

More stories on WCNC: State Senate passes bill to ban use of vaccine passports

“Listen I want to judge everyone, not by identity politics, we have to stop this identity politics. We have to judge people by their soul, their character and their heart,” he said. “We need to move on and I’m glad we all moved on.”

McCrory also addressed reports Lara Trump could enter the race, which some political analysts say could turn the race on its head.

“I’m running against Chuck Schumer, I’m running against Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, I’m not running against any other individual,” McCrory said, adding, “I’m the best person to represent North Carolina in DC and it’s from an outside perspective, someone who hasn’t played the game in DC, but solved problems right here in Charlotte and in North Carolina.”

Asked why he's returning to politics, McCrory answered, "public service is a calling." 

"I'm honored to always call Charlotte my home and it would be an honor to be the mayor of charlotte, one time the governor of North Carolina and then-Senator."

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