North Carolina Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue will not seek re-election in 2012, a Democratic source confirmed to ABC News.
That decision should improve President Obama’s chances in the state next November, as Perdue is deeply unpopular, and that unpopularity could have hurt the president — and Democrats in general – in North Carolina in 2012.
Perdue will make the announcement this afternoon. The North Carolina Democratic Party would not confirm whether Perdue had declined to run, only that an announcement would be made Thursday.
In April, an Elon University poll showed that Perdue’s approval ratings had sagged behind Obama’s in the state. Perdue’s disapproval rating was 52 percent, while her approval rating was 33 percent. Obama, meanwhile, enjoyed a 48 percent job-approval rating and a 46 percent disapproval rating in North Carolina. While reliable polls have been hard to come by in North Carolina, since April a string of automated phone surveys have corroborated Perdue’s unpopularity.
Obama carried North Carolina in 2008, 50 percent to 49 percent for Sen. John McCain. Democrats made significant gains in North Carolina in 2006, and, along with Obama’s victory in Virginia in 2008, North Carolina gave the party hope of an expanded electoral map and newfound competitiveness in the South.
Obama’s campaign has said it would focus its efforts again on North Carolina in 2012.
“We put the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in part because we believe so deeply in this map,” campaign manager Jim Messina said in aYouTube fundraising video that laid out Obama’s potential electoral strategyin late December. Had Perdue remained in office, she could have dampened the campaign efforts of President Obama, who would presumably have campaigned alongside Perdue and shared the stage with her at North Carolina events.
Perdue’s tenure saw a series of bad headlines and political disasters that sullied her image after she won the race to the governor’s mansion in 2008.
In September, she caused a stir by suggesting that the United States suspend its congressional elections for two years. In November, three of her aides were indicted for allegedly violating state election law in a scheme to pay a staff member $32,000 for work that was kept off the books. This month, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., launched an inquiry into whether Perdue breached government protocol by alluding to new unemployment numbers in a speech before their scheduled release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The top Republican candidate to replace Perdue is Pat McCrory, who ran against Perdue and lost in 2008. Democrats do not yet have a leading candidate to step into the race, although Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx appear to be likely contenders.