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Pat McCrory is feeling a little sensitive right now.

Raleigh News & Observer/Getty Images

So sensitive, in fact, his team planted friendly questions at a recent lunch event. According to the Charlotte Observer, the event’s volunteer moderator introduced three questions, attributed to the Observer, that its editorial page editor Taylor Batten later characterized as “softballs.” But the hitch is that the Observer hadn’t submitted these questions. No paper had submitted the questions. And Batten says that when he attempted to ask a real question—about HB2, the state’s anti-LGBT “bathroom bill”—McCrory refused to answer:

When the event was over, McCrory did not meet with the throng of reporters who were there. He ducked out a side door and down a hall that led to a back exit. I followed him to try to ask him about HB2, but his staff blocked me.

Administration staffers eventually admitted to the deception. It’s not hard to understand why they resorted to such a duplicitous tactic: HB2 is costing North Carolina a lot of money: $395 million, according to Wired’s estimate.

Meanwhile, McCrory is running for re-election in a tight race against state Attorney General Roy Cooper. Cooper has refused to defend HB2, and that may increasingly attract voters disillusioned with McCrory’s expensive priorities. No wonder he’s dodging press.