THE PILOT ENDORSES: For Governor: Beverly Perdue
Voters could hardly go wrong electing either major-party candidate for governor this year. On balance, our choice is Democrat Bev Perdue.
Term limits, thank goodness, bar Gov. Mike Easley from succeeding himself. Perdue's opponent, Republican Pat McCrory, has mounted a surprisingly strong campaign despite his late entry into a race that traditionally favors Democrats. (Republicans have occupied the governor's office for only 12 of the past 100 years.) But as early voting began on Thursday, polls showed the two candidates neck-and-neck.
As a two-term lieutenant governor and former member of the N.C. Senate, Perdue has plenty of experience in dealing with the state bureaucracy and with the vagaries of the legislature -- something at which the current occupant of the Governor's Mansion (from whom she has made a point of distancing herself) has woefully underperformed.
Perdue, 61, has a solid feel for what government needs to do for the people of the Old North State. She has a strong record in the all-important field of education. Despite her long tenure in positions of power, she is free of any association with the scandals involving Speaker Jim Black and others.
Strengths on Both Sides
McCrory, the seven-term mayor of Charlotte, the state's biggest city, also has much to recommend him. His campaign and political personality bear strong similarities to those of the business-oriented Republicans who managed to get themselves elected in the 1970s and 1980s. McCrory's power base lies mostly in Charlotte and the western part of the state, while Perdue is stronger in Raleigh and in eastern North Carolina.
McCrory, 52, projects an image of warmth and dynamism. He has established a strongly bipartisan power base as mayor by reaching out to Democratic voters and by avoiding divisive stands on hot-button GOP issues like abortion and gay rights. He has, however, come out strongly against illegal immigration.
For better or worse, North Carolina is rapidly becoming an urban state, and the trend toward city and suburban-oriented life shows no sign of abating. Someone with a strong urban background would have a leg up in shaping the policies the state needs as it adjusts to this dramatic demographic change.
An Effective Leader
All things considered, North Carolina would be better off with a highly qualified governor who can hit the ground running and won't require a lot of on-the-job training. That candidate is Bev Perdue.
She was a top aide to Jim Hunt, our most effective governor of recent times, and served as the chief budget writer in the N.C. Senate before winning election as he state's first female lieutenant governor in 2000. Though the No. 2 job has been stripped of many inherent powers, she has made unusually meaningful use of her position by, among other things, leading efforts to protect the state from the worst effects of recent military base closings. She is a strong supporter of open government.
Perdue has spent 20 years assembling the resume and the contacts needed for a successful gubernatorial run. She is a far better candidate than her poorly managed general-election campaign might indicate, and we think she would make a more effective governor than either McCrory or Libertarian candidate Michael C. Munger.
We also recommend Democrat Walter H. Dalton for lieutenant governor.
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