With issues ranging from teacher pay, to unemployment, to the hot button HB2 “bathroom bill” on the table, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory faced off against Democrat challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper today in the first debate of the race, hosted by the NC Bar Association in Charlotte, NC – ground zero for the HB 2 controversy.

Of a peculiar interest is Cooper’s reluctance to participate in any more debates after today. Governor McCrory, on the other hand, has requested more debates in the run-up to November’s election. Normally, the incumbent tends to prefer less debates. Cooper, who released several attack ads today, apparently believes his message would best be served through those ads, rather than being directly questioned and contrasted against McCrory’s position on the issues.

A for instance was during today’s debate, Cooper touted his work with former Governor Jim Hunt.

Cooper said when he served in the General Assembly he worked with Governor Hunt to get teacher salaries above the national average.

“What we have to do is tell teachers we respect them. We have to stop sending public money to private school vouchers and make sure we channel that money to give students the resources they need,” he said.

McCrory countered:

In his response, Governor McCrory said North Carolina’s teacher pay ranking slid to near the bottom under governors Easley and Perdue – who he pointed out Cooper supported.

“Since I’ve come into office, the first thing we did was raise entry-level teacher pay by $5,000,” he said. “Since then, we’ve given the largest teacher pay raises in the United States of America.”

These were just a sampling of the back and forth between McCrory and Cooper.

The full debate can be viewed here: