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.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Tomorrow's editorial today: