Aftershocks Continue On Perdue
The immediate aftermath of Gov. Beverly Perdue's decision not to seek a second term was predictable.
Prominent Democrats in the state quickly began assessing their prospects for stepping into the vacuum.
Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton's announcement that he would run for governor wasn't surprising. Dalton, a small-town lawyer and longtime legislator from the North Carolina foothills, would have likely been a candidate in 2016 had Perdue sought a second term.
For Dalton, Perdue's decision moved up his timetable.
Lieutenant governors, though, have mixed results when it comes to running for the state's top political job, and Dalton doesn't ooze the kind of political charisma that was going to scare off potential challengers in a suddenly wide-open race.
So legislators, congressmen and mayors were dropping hints or being quizzed.
State Rep. Bill Faison, an Orange County lawyer, had been making noise about running even when it looked as if Perdue would seek a second term. He was coy for a day or two but then jumped in.
Former Congressman Bob Etheridge and current Congressman Mike McIntyre expressed interest. Erskine Bowles, former UNC system president and White House chief of staff, was discussed as a candidate who could give Republican candidate Pat McCrory a run for his money. Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx sounded as if he might get in; Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines sounded like he wouldn't.
All who decide to run will have a sprint to the primary. It is only 13 weeks away.
Political analysts seemed pretty unanimous that the change was good for Democrats, that Perdue had little chance and would have been a drag on the ticket. The change, though, means that Democrats have traded certainty for uncertainty, a brand name for a lesser-known offering. That's the immediate aftermath.
Once the Democratic field is sorted out, another kind of fallout will be felt: the effects of the decision on Perdue's relationship with the Republican-controlled legislature during a final year in office.
Perdue, in announcing the decision, said she hoped to reduce partisan rancor, particularly around the issue of school funding. House Speaker Thom Tillis spoke of a desire to work more effectively with the governor.
The reality may be very different.
Perdue is now a lame duck. Her ability to use the levers of power to cajole legislators of either party is more limited. She still possesses that veto stamp, but she may find it more difficult to avoid being overridden in the House now that the prospect of a second term is gone.
The wild card will be the number of legislators, of both parties, who are also lame ducks and not seeking re-election.
As for Republican legislative leaders, what is their motivation to work with a Democratic governor? They believe that they will soon have a Republican in the governor's mansion, and if their new legislative district maps hold, will keep their majorities in the legislature.
They can wait her out.
Then again, sometimes the best laid plans do go awry.
Scott Mooneyham writes for Capitol Press Association in Raleigh. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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