Thursday morning Gov. Bev Perdue announced that she will not be seeking reelection this year.
According to the News & Observer, the timing of Perdue’s decision shocked the North Carolina political world, coming just 15 weeks before the May primary election and without apparent notice to her staff or other top Democrats who didn’t find out until this morning.
“The thing I care about most right now is making sure that 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,” said Perdue in a statement sent out Thursday at noon. “Therefore, I am announcing today that I have decided not to seek re-election. I hope this decision will open the door to an honest and bipartisan effort to help our schools.”
“To those of you who have supported me throughout my years of public service, I will always be grateful for the confidence you have placed in me,” she continued. “In my remaining months in office, I look forward to continuing to fight for the priorities we share, by putting North Carolinians back to work and investing in our children’s future. To my children and grandchildren, and especially to my husband Bob, thank you for always being there for me - especially as I’ve weighed this difficult decision.”
Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin responded to the news.
“Like most people I was surprised to hear that she will not run for reelection,” said McLaurin. “I wish her well. The last time I saw her was in September when she came to Richmond County for the announcement of the return of NASCAR. We’ve invited her to wave the green flag on April 15, and I hope she will join us.”
Democratic Party Leader Antonio Blue said he is looking forward to seeing candidates step forward to run for Perdue’s position.
“There are some strong Democratic candidates that will seek her seat,” he said. “I don’t know who they will be, but I hope they focus on education and teachers, jobs, the economy, the budget and trying to bring some unity between the House and the Senate for one common purpose: the betterment of North Carolina.”
Perdue’s departure holds national implications as it creates a scramble at the top of the Democratic ticket in a key political swing state that will host the Democratic National Convention and play a key role in President Barack Obama’s re-election. Perdue is North Carolina’s first woman governor and one of three Democratic state executives in the South.
Perdue’s decision not to run for a second term increases the chances that Democrats can hold on to the office,” said Wake Forest University professor of political science John Dinan, an expert on state politics. It “clears the way for Democrats to nominate someone with a better chance of keeping the seat in Democratic hands.”
A number of top Democrats names are mentioned as possible replacements, including Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, former Congressman Bob Etheridge, former UNC system President Erskine Bowles, former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Moore and State Treasurer Janet Cowell. One possible contender, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, said Thursday that he would not run for governor, instead seeking re-election.
Thursday, Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton said, “I believe that our future economy and better jobs depend on our historic commitment to education. After all, education is in North Carolina’s DNA – it’s what sets us apart and it’s what will determine our future. However, you can’t make progress if you are pointed in the wrong direction. Pat McCrory and the Republican leadership are facing the wrong way by cutting teachers, reducing scholarships and abandoning economic development. They are doing lasting damage to our state. I’ve dedicated my career to improving education at all levels and making North Carolina a great place to do business.
“Today, I’m announcing that I am running for Governor. Lucille and I love this state and we understand tough political races. I am the only candidate who has run and won statewide and I look forward to waging an aggressive campaign. Elections are about choices. As a state we must decide the direction in which we will turn. With this campaign, I choose to look ahead to a brighter future. I choose progress. I choose a future where public education is the foundation of our economy.”
Another likely candidate for governor is state Rep. Bill Faison, an Orange County Democrat, who has been making moves for months about running for higher office. Faison said he will make an announcement next week about his plans. Asked if he will run, Faison said “You should probably expect the announcement will be in that direction.”
— The News & Observer contributed to this story. Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.