Local Reaction Mixed on Perdue's Decision
Local reaction was mixed Thursday to Gov. Beverly Perdue’s announcement that she won’t seek re-election.
Perdue, a Democrat and the state’s first woman governor, cited fear of a further politicizing of school funding issues as one reason for her decision. She tangled frequently with the Republican-controlled legislature last year.
In her statement, Perdue said a campaign “in this already divisive environment will make it more difficult to find any bipartisan solutions.”
“I am crushed,” said a disappointed Jim Heim, chairman of the Moore County Democratic Party.
Heim said he is puzzled about her recent low polling numbers. He said the state has retained its triple A credit rating in spite of bad economic conditions of recent years. In addition, he said, she has fought vigorously to maintain the quality of North Carolina schools.
“I like her personally, and I appreciate all she has done for our state,” Heim said.
Heim called Perdue a friendly, approachable person who is “a marvelous speaker.”
He said the state owes much to Perdue for her strong devotion to Democratic principles, especially her veto of the Republican bill that would have required voters to display photo identification at the polls, would have changed the early voting schedule and made other changes in the election process.
“She’s a marvelous speaker,” he said. “I’ve heard her deliver some real stemwinders.”
Besides, Heim added, “I was looking forward to the fight.”
Moore County Republican Party Chairman Bob Levy had a different take.
“After Gov. Perdue’s proposal to raise taxes as a method of governing, she has finally decided that she and the Democratic Party are ideologically bankrupt,” Levy said.
Levy said Republicans in the legislature have done such a good job that the people of North Carolina understand that an agenda of higher taxes and more government will lead to certain defeat in November. He said this should be a wake-up call for the Democratic Party that it needs a change in agenda.
“If they continue on that track, not only will it lead to defeat, but no one will want to run as a Democrat,” Levy said.
However, state Rep. Jamie Boles, also a Republican, had some kind words for the governor, despite their opposing views in the 2011 session of the General Assembly.
Boles said that despite disagreements between the Democratic governor and the Republican legislature, the two were able to accomplish much during the session.
In particular, he cited the passage of pro-business laws that had long been a need in North Carolina.
These were laws passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by the Democratic governor. Boles said he also respected her work on behalf of the public schools.
“We had a fairly decent working relationship,” Boles said. “We had our differences of opinion, but it was nothing we couldn’t work out.”
Boles said Perdue’s decision not to run for a second term took him by surprise.
In her statement, Perdue said she has always fought for values and principles she respects and is not one to back down on issues.
“But I understand this: We live in highly partisan times, where some people seem more worried about scoring political points than working together to address the real challenges our state faces,” Perdue said. “And it is clear to me that my race for re-election will only further politicize the fight to adequately fund our schools. A re-election campaign in this already divisive environment will make it more difficult to find any bipartisan solutions.”
Perdue said that her primary concern is the education system. She said there is a need to make “sure our schools and schoolchildren do not continue to be the victims of shortsighted legislative actions and severe budget cuts inflicted by a legislative majority with the wrong priorities.”
Republican Pat McCrory, already recognized as her likely opponent, lost no time making his candidacy clear. The former mayor of Charlotte issued a statement that he would announce his candidacy next week.
“My message has been and will continue to be that we must fix our broken government and broken economy and put our North Carolina resources back to work,” McCrory said.
Perdue defeated McCrory in the 2008 general election. This year will be his second try for the governorship.
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