New NC governor’s senior adviser doesn’t stand up at sports events, draws GOP fire

Ken Eudy
Ken Eudy

Governor-elect Roy Cooper’s newly hired senior adviser is under fire for saying he doesn’t stand up at sporting events when the crowds cheer the military.

Ken Eudy, who founded the public relations firm Capstrat, has been leading Cooper’s transition team and was named to the longer-term role of senior adviser on Wednesday – one of Cooper’s first three hires.

A day later, the conservative Civitas Institute posted an article criticizing Eudy’s opinion column in September about football player Colin Kaepernick, who’s drawn controversy for refusing to stand for the national anthem. The N.C. Republican Party later distributed the Civitas article to its email lists.

“I have something in common with Colin Kaepernick,” Eudy wrote on the website EducationNC. “I don’t stand at sporting events, either.

“I do stand for the Star-Spangled Banner. But I stay in my seat when thousands of fans stand and cheer men and women in the armed services. ... I sit simply because I think it odd that, of all the categories of Americans that we honor, we honor warriors. I’m resolved that I won’t stand until we also honor the profession that will determine whether the United States remains free – school teachers.”

Eudy notes in the article that he served in the Army National Guard for six years.

Civitas said Eudy’s stance is troubling. “We must ask of Roy Cooper: Does he share Eudy’s vision in attacking the members of our armed forces and veterans?” Civitas staff member Susan Myrick wrote.

Eudy says Civitas missed the point of his column. “The point that maybe was inartful is that we honor servicemen – and I think that’s appropriate – but why don’t we honor teachers?” he told The News & Observer Thursday. “It’s not so much about the inclusion of servicemen and women, it’s more about these other heroes.”

Myrick also questioned Capstrat’s contracts with state government. Eudy said that many of the company’s contracts – one of which was an anti-smoking campaign – ended when Republicans took control, and that state business was never more than 5 percent of Capstrat’s overall revenue.

Eudy is a former political journalist who led the N.C. Democratic Party in the late 1980s before founding Capstrat, which he sold to a larger firm called Ketchum in 2013. He said his current contract with Ketchum ends at the end of the year, so he’ll have no financial ties to the company when Cooper takes office.

“If this is the worst thing that they can find about me, I feel pretty good,” Eudy said.