Rumors began swirling early Thursday morning that North Carolina’s Democratic governor, Bev Perdue, would soon be announcing that she would not seek a second term. The embattled governor had been performing poorly in statewide polls and faced a strong challenge from Republican Charlotte Mayor Pat McCroy, who she ran against in the 2008 election.
Perdue swept to the governor’s mansion on the coattails of President Barack Obama’s national victory in 2008. Since her election, Perdue has faced national criticism for suggesting that the 2010 congressional elections — in which Republicans won big — should be suspended because of the economy; and in August 2010, the State Board of Elections fined her campaign $30,000 for not reporting over 40 private flights. In addition, Perdue recently proposed raising the state’s sales tax — a proposal that fell flat with voters. (RELATED: NC Gov. Perdue’s staffers create data-sharing scandal)
North Carolina is a 15-electoral-point swing state important to Obama’s 2012 re-election efforts. In 2008, Obama won North Carolina by 14,000 votes and, as The Daily Caller reported in December, Obama is “already spending significant resource to win the state, partly because he’s expected to face steep odds in other important states, including Florida and Virginia.” (RELATED: Obama works to keep North Carolina blue)
As part of the campaign to win the swing state, the Democratic National Convention is scheduled to be held there during the week of Sept. 3.
The GOP made significant gains in North Carolina in the 2010 elections, winning both the state House and Senate for the first time in 140 years. Meanwhile, Perdue’s challenger had made steady gains, possibly impacting Obama’s chances in the state. Recent polls showed Perdue 14 points behind McCroy.
“There has been rampant speculation in recent weeks that while the state was not going to indict her on campaign finance irregularities, the feds might very well do so,” Americans for Prosperity North Carolina Director Dallas Woodhouse told The Daily Caller. “So I don’t think she was pushed out of the race by the Obama administration simply because she was unpopular, but I think the possibility that she could be put in handcuffs later this summer is something people are at least talking about, and that has a negative effect on President Obama.”
If Perdue’s decision to not run for re-election is an attempt by North Carolina Democrats to take back the lead in the gubernatorial race, the Republican Governors Association (RGA) is not worried. In a statement released on Thursday morning, RGA Executive Director Phil Cox wrote, “No matter how hard they try, whoever emerges as the Democratic Party’s successor to Bev Perdue won’t be able to run from the Democrats’ record of higher taxes and disappointing job losses.”
Perdue’s decision to not run for re-election could also be indicative of a general weakness in the Democratic Party: Not only is she to play host to the party’s convention in the fall, but she is vice chairman of the Democratic Governor’s Association.
The move, though possibly beneficial to Obama, does not bode well for the Democrats, Woodhouse told TheDC.
“There may be a slight advantage to the president that he just doesn’t have this very, very unpopular governor, but I’m not so sure it puts the Democrats in better shape to win,” Woodhouse said.
“I would not think you wake up tomorrow feeling very good about your chances as Democrats in North Carolina,” he concluded. “You’re going to be running under Republican maps in the legislature, and you’re going to have a couple Democratic candidates beating each other up in the primary, and wont emerge as a nominee until late may. I think it’s a tough day.”
Governor Purdue’s office and the Democratic National Committee did not respond to requests for comment.