Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, the Democratic candidate for governor, promises campaign audiences in Charlotte that she won't neglect the state's largest city and that she will open a new governor's office here.
Her campaign's new television ad in Eastern North Carolina, though, pits her Republican opponent, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, and his city's interests against the rest of the state.
Perdue's new ad, running in Eastern North Carolina markets and the Greensboro area this week, displays McCrory and a pop-up style illustration of Charlotte's place on the map – and then its skyline covering a disproportionate swath of the state.
“This must be how Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory sees North Carolina,” the narrator says. “McCrory says we should take money away from rural highways.”
The ad relies on McCrory comments from newspaper stories, editorials and his cable TV talk show dating to 1998 in which he questioned how state government parcels out road money.
“McCrory said that Charlotte's getting, quote, ripped off,” the ad says. “Don't let Pat McCrory divide North Carolina. He's not for all of us.”
McCrory campaign manager Richard Hudson said the ad follows a pattern of Perdue's efforts to divide the state.
“She talks about how bad Charlotte is down (east) but then comes to Charlotte and says it's her second home, which I thought was actually Chapel Hill,” Hudson said. Perdue and her husband, Robert Eaves, own homes in New Bern and Chapel Hill.
Perdue spokesman David Kochman said it is McCrory who has been dividing the state with his comments questioning whether every rural community needs a paved road.
“His hometown paper wrote an editorial called ‘Urban arrogance?' about the fact that Pat McCrory has to learn Charlotte is part of North Carolina,” Kochman said, referring to a 2004 Charlotte Observer editorial. “Find one community in North Carolina that says we don't need a paved road.”
The editorial criticized McCrory and city council members for not taking a broader, statewide view, but also said “statistically, there's truth in that argument” that the state formula for passing out road money hurts large, fast-growing cities.
Much of Perdue's ad is based on McCrory's comments on the state's road-funding formula, which was designed nearly 20 years ago to ensure rural communities received a share. Some transportation leaders now question whether the formula accounts for the mushrooming population and traffic growth in the city's metropolitan regions.
Brad Wilson, chief operating officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, chairs a state panel charged with finding ways to strengthen the state's transportation finances. He said the road- building formula has “served the state well” in the past.
“Like any 20-year-old formula,” Wilson said, “it is prudent to examine whether it is still meeting the goals it was designed to meet.”
Since opening a Charlotte campaign office on Sept. 10, Perdue has increased her trips to the city. She's scheduled to stop at New Outreach Christian Church in Charlotte on Friday, her fourth visit to the city in nine days. She has told crowds that, as governor, she would work in Charlotte three or four days a month.
Perdue said in a recent interview that making Charlotte residents feel like a part of the state was one of her biggest priorities as governor.
“Whether it was public schools or whether it was the work force or whether it was trying one last time to make sure Charlotte understood they're part of the state of North Carolina and this governor loved them,” she said. “I'm quite serious about that.”