RALEIGH, NC (WECT/WBTV/AP) – Democratic North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue will not seek re-election this year.
The first-term Perdue said in a statement Thursday, "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."
Perdue went on to say that she is not one to back down from fights, but believes if she were to run again it would only "further politicize the fight to adequately fund our schools."
"I'm sad, just as I'm sure a lot of North Carolinians are," said former campaign manager Louise McColl. "I've known Beverly since she was in the state house. I was with her when she decided to run for governor, was with her when she ran for lieutenant governor, so it's a sad day for a group of us that really care and know how dedicated she is to this position."
McColl said she was a little surprised at the news Thursday. She had heard a rumor floating around over a week ago, but said it was "about 50/50 as to whether she would do this or not."
Perdue became North Carolina's first woman governor in 2008, but has not been extremely popular in recent polls.
McColl, however, thinks Perdue has done a good job in office with the hand she was dealt.
"I think she's been able to accomplish some of the things she wanted to accomplish," said McColl. "I also think she inherited it. We had a bad economy she came in to. No matter who you want to blame, the governor didn't just make the economy go bad in North Carolina."
Former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt said Perdue helped him start Smart Start.
"I remember her hard work as a member of the Appropriations Committee in the state senate," said Hunt. "She's been a great friend of community colleges and the university and I wish her the very best in her future."
Perdue was heavily involved in trying to create jobs and improve the film industry in Wilmington.
"If you look at the film industry and what she's done for southeastern North Carolina, and I know that she's tried and tried to keep that going – film is huge here in Wilmington, and a lot of that is because of Beverly," said McColl.
President Obama, too, is praising Perdue's decision, calling her a barrier breaker during more than 25 years in elected office.
Obama released a statement Thursday congratulating her for her historic tenure as North Carolina's first female governor and lieutenant governor, wishing her and her family well.
The president said the fellow Democrat has worked to improve the state's public schools and health care and to create jobs in emerging fields and for the military.
Despite her accomplishments, Perdue faces continued budget troubles and a campaign investigation while Republicans took over the Legislature last year.
Perdue announced last week she would offer a budget this spring that would seek a sales tax increase for education. Republicans let a temporary sales tax increase expire last summer.
The research firm Public Policy Polling has already weighed in on the potential impact on the governor's race this year.
PPP says former US Senate Candidate Erskine Bowles may have the best chance of any Democrat against former Charlotte Mayor and Republican Pat McCrory, who plans to run for governor.
A poll of hypothetical match ups conducted in October showed Bowles and McCrory tied at 42%.
If McCrory ran against Lt. Governor Walter Dalton, he would have an advantage of 46-32. McCrory's odds increased against State Representative Bill Faison at 45-30.
Even before Perdue made the announcement, NC Governor Jim Hunt thought there will be a very competitive race for governor. He thinks it will be even more interesting now that Perdue is not seeking re-election.
"I don't know who's going to run on the democratic side, but I suspect a lot of people will be interested," explained Hunt. "North Carolina is a two party state and that's good for us and I hope the Democratic candidate will stand up and really push on education."
Several government officials released statements Thursday in regards to Perdue's announcement.
President Barack Obama:
"As the first woman to serve as North Carolina's lieutenant governor and governor, Bev Perdue has never been afraid to break barriers. 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. Michelle and I want to congratulate Gov. Perdue on her historic tenure, and we wish Bev and her family well in the future."
The Republican Governors Association:
"It's now clear that the past four years of having a Democratic governor in North Carolina have been a failure. North Carolina's lost ground to its neighbors, and now has the worst unemployment rate in the region. It's never been more clear that North Carolina needs a Republican governor who will bring fresh ideas and a new perspective to the governor's office," Executive Director Phil Cox said.
Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory:
"My message has been and will continue to be that we must fix our broken government and broken economy and put our North Carolina resources back to work. That's why next week I plan to announce my intentions to seek the honor of serving as North Carolina's next governor."
Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton:
"I am the only candidate who has run and won statewide and I look forward to waging an aggressive campaign. Elections are about choices. As a state we must decide the direction in which we will turn. With this campaign, I choose to look ahead to a brighter future. I choose progress. I choose a future where public education is the foundation of our economy."
Republican National Committee's Political Director:
"Bev Perdue rode into the governor's mansion on the coattails of Barack Obama and now that he is doing so poorly in North Carolina and across our nation, she realized there was no chance of being re-elected. Barack Obama's failed economic policies and broken promises are hurting our nation with every day that passes and with Bev Perdue bailing on North Carolinians, the path to 270 electoral votes just got much longer. No matter who emerges from the long, tough primary between the Democratic candidates ahead, North Carolinians know they cannot afford another four years of the Barack Obama economy," said Rick Wiley, RNC Political Director.
North Carolina Democratic Party:
"Bev Perdue has been, and will continue to be, an outstanding Governor. She has fought to create jobs and protect funding for our children and our public schools. Her leadership – and her willingness to make tough decisions -- has kept our state afloat during the toughest economic times since the Great Depression. Because of her efforts, companies have created nearly 90,000 jobs, and made investments worth more than $19 billion here in North Carolina. Gov. Perdue believes that it is essential to reverse the Republican legislature's cuts to education, but the Republicans continue to fight against adequate school funding. She recognizes that running for re-election will only further politicize the fight to protect North Carolina's children and the future of our public schools. She hopes that her decision to not run will open the door to an honest and bipartisan effort to help our schools. I know that this was an intensely personal choice for her. While we are disappointed, we understand and respect her decision. Make no mistake about it, the Democratic Party will have no trouble selecting a strong gubernatorial candidate and we are confident we will win the governor's race next November," said North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman David Parker.
US Senator Kay Hagan:
"Governor Perdue deserves the state's sincere gratitude for her many years of public service. During times of extraordinary economic stress and budgetary pressures, she continues to vigorously pursue priorities near and dear to the hearts of generations of North Carolinians, including expanding and improving education at every level and a tireless pursuit of new businesses and jobs for the state.
"I am especially heartened to hear she will devote her remaining time in office fighting to ensure that the children of North Carolina receive the affordable, quality education mandated by our state constitution.
"The Governor's office plays an important role in resisting those in Raleigh who wish to abandon North Carolina's well-earned reputation as a state with its eyes firmly and pragmatically on the future. Whether the issue is access to the ballot box; a commonsense jobs-creating business climate; robust support for our military and veterans and their families; or the guarantee of a first-rate education, the Governor's office often provides a critical moderating counterweight to the backward-looking forces of extremism elsewhere in state government. North Carolinians will surely keep this in mind as they choose the next governor in November."
Chairman Robin Hayes:
"Governor Perdue's decision today is not shocking. Perdue's economic agenda was defined by her desire to raise taxes on all North Carolinians. The numerous scandals and failures of leadership are well documented and caused people to lose faith in her abilities to lead the state.
With multiple Democrats now openly speculating that they will run, North Carolinians will observe the "tax-dollar primary." Whoever decides to raise the most taxes will probably win their nomination, and will be defeated next November.
The North Carolina Republican Party has made one thing very clear: any attempt to raise taxes on families in this state will be met with fierce resistance."
House Minority Leader Joe Hackney:
"Gov. Perdue will leave office with a reputation as a good governor who managed this state through a difficult time. Despite the financial circumstances of our state, though, she kept a focus on education. She realized that education moves our state forward and moves our people forward. She never forgot that and it was at the core of her time as a legislator and in the executive branch. I am grateful for her service to our state and wish her well."
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx:
"Governor Beverly Perdue deserves our gratitude for guiding our state in very difficult times, and for being a good friend to the City of Charlotte. Her decision not to run for re-election came as a surprise to me," Mayor Foxx said. "I remain focused on Charlotte and the substantial work ahead. I will spend the coming weeks talking with my family and friends about how I could best serve our city and state, and I ask the public and media for some patience as I work through those conversations."
NC President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People:
"She has taken seriously her oath to uphold the constitution, which requires those in government to govern for the good of the whole, to protect and strengthen public education, to create economic vitality, to protect civil rights, to ensure equal protection and racial justice under the law ... When she had to choose between what was good for North Carolina children and all of its citizens, and what was good for her own career, she took the road of principle. This is how history will record of the legacy of the first of many women governors we will have," said Rev. William Barber.