Thursday, January 26, 2012

A governor who could never quite connect

Tomorrow's editorial today:

Gov. Bev Perdue’s statement Thursday about why she won’t run for re-election ironically illustrated one reason she’s so far behind in the polls: She frequently gives voters the uneasy sense that she’s not being fully straight with them.

Trailing in voter surveys, dogged by legal questions, forced to cut spending in a sluggish economy, pitted against an intransigent legislature, Perdue said her decision was all about helping children.

“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,” Perdue, a Democrat, said. “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.”

Does anyone really believe this stuff? Making herself a lame duck will suddenly persuade Republican legislative leaders to raise the sales tax she wants?

Perdue’s historic decision – she is the first N.C. governor not to seek re-election since that became allowed in 1977 – was surprising because it seemed to contradict her nature as a fighter unafraid of a challenge. It was that nature that made her North Carolina’s first female governor and lieutenant governor.

But this year’s campaign would have been her toughest yet. Republican Pat McCrory has led her in the polls by 10 or more points and her approval/disapproval numbers have at times been abysmal.

Some of that, to be sure, was rotten luck. Perdue was elected governor in November 2008 amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. She faced high unemployment and an unbending legislature, and presided over hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts. Few governors would emerge popular from that.

She deserves credit, by and large, for fighting for education, from pre-kindergarten to the University of North Carolina system. She cast many needed vetoes, including against a nationally unique anti-abortion bill and an overly austere 2011 budget, and she has been a better friend to Charlotte than most of her predecessors.

Even so, the questionable actions that undermined her reelection chances are too numerous to list here. Among them: Campaign finance irregularities that led to indictments against her supporters; the appearance of cronyism at the state Highway Patrol and the state parole commission; disappearances from the state at critical times; and a gaffe about her desire to suspend elections for two years.

Now she’s stepping aside, a move that could increase Democratic voter turnout in the May primary, altering the vote on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It will force the Democratic nominee to take a stand on the sales tax hike she will press. And it clears the way for other Democrats, including some who can present McCrory a tougher challenge.

Charlotte’s Erskine Bowles would have an outstanding chance of defeating McCrory, and also would have the potential to be an exceptional governor. Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx said Thursday he’s considering a run. He’d be smart to wait but wouldn’t violate any compact with Charlotte voters by jumping in.

Foxx and others won’t have long to decide. But one thing we know right now: Perdue’s departure, for whatever the reason, changes everything.


Anonymous said...

You guys know she was bullied out of running by the Obama administration, but since Foxx is going to run I'm sure you won't question anything.

John said...

"intransigent legislature"?

First off, the first two years she, like President Obama had a Democrat led legislature that she, again like Obama failed to get anywhere with... except to put the state far further in debt than we were when both took office.

They are both dealing with Republican majorities because of voter discontent with their performance in their first two years! That's not bad luck... that's a consequence of poor leadership ability!

The NC Legislature is now in the position of having to try to stop the fiscal bleeding so that the patient can be saved! Raising taxes without spending cuts is like giving transfusion to a trauma victim without addressing the source of the bleeding!

Tax and spend will not repair and restore North Carolina's economy... or America's. Three years is enough proof that it isn't working! One down, one to go!

Wiley Coyote said...

Good grief. A child of two can see why she didn't connect because for the first time in 100 years, a Democrat governor didn't get a rubber stamp.

Throw in the fact she's out of touch with reality and it's quite a cocktail for failure.

Skippy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skippy said...

The new Republican Gov's in several states are enjoying enormous popularity and success through balanced budget amendments, actually balancing budgets and lowering unemployment and NOT rasing taxes. Back in 2010 there was a wave of new Repub Gov's elected thanks to Obummer and team and this year will be no different. Yeah, Observer, it was just bad luck the Obama zombie voters went straight ticket and voted in a Sleasley clone clearly incompetent, aloof and corrupt. And in normal times, that makes would have made her a perfect fit for NC. The normal days are over for you zombie voters.