Perdue exits, Obama gains in North Carolina

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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North Carolina Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue suddenly dropped out of her own 2012 election race Thursday, likely helping President Barack Obama’s chances in the state.

The impact of her withdrawal is unclear, but “we know she would be an anchor on any Democratic candidates,” said Rob Lockwood, spokesman for the state’s Republican Party.

The state’s 15 electoral voters are regarded as a must-win by Obama’s election team, partly because his support has fallen in may other states. The importance of the state is shown by Obama’s decision to put his September presidential convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Perdue was roughly 10 percentage points behind the leading GOP candidate, former Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory, in polls and there was little evidence that she could close the gap, or  help Obama’s election in the state, which he won in 2008 by less than a third of a percent.

Longtime Democratic insider Erskine Bowles is one of several Democrats who may compete to replace Perdue. He’ll likely have the support of Obama’s re-election team and much funding.

There’s little evidence that top Democrats are disappointed by Perdue’s departure. “Michelle and I want to congratulate Governor Perdue on her historic tenure, and we wish Bev and her family well in the future,” said a short White House statement, which glossed over the governor’s failures.

“For over 25 years, she has fought for the people of the Tar Heel State — working to transform the state’s public schools, improve the health care system, protect and attract jobs for members of the military and their families, and create the jobs of the future,” said the statement.

GOP officials welcomed her departure.

“Perdue’s economic agenda was defined by her desire to raise taxes on all North Carolinians,” said a statement from state Republican Party chairman Robin Hayes. “Her numerous scandals and failures of leadership are well documented and caused people to lose faith in her abilities to lead the state.”

The downside for the Democrats, however, is that they need to nominate a replacement who can rally the party before the fall.

But the Democratic Party’s base may push candidates to embrace unpopular tax-boosting policies, say Republicans. The state’s voters will watch the Democrats’ “tax-dollar primary,” said Robin’s statement.

“Whoever decides to raise the most taxes will probably win their nomination, and will be defeated next November,” Hayes said.

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