The ad wars in the governor's race are being fought on several fronts.
Democratic candidate Beverly Perdue and her allies have attacked Republican Pat McCrory on stem cell research, the minimum wage, school vouchers and a trip to Paris.
McCrory's allies in the Republican Governors Association have attacked Perdue over various state taxes and her long tenure in state government.
McCrory himself has mostly stayed above the fray with ads that talk in general terms about improving education and cutting taxes. Still, one ad criticized Perdue's position on offshore drilling, and several have criticized Perdue for running negative ads.
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Longtime Democratic consultant Gary Pearce said both campaigns are relying on fairly generic messages about the economy and education that do not lend themselves to more clear-cut ad campaigns.
“When there's no beef on the plate, there's going to be a lot of side dishes,” he said.
As in all political ads, there is some truth, a few stretches and some big, fat whoppers in the ads' portrayals of both candidates.
Among the two campaigns and three outside groups, more than a dozen ads have aired in the gubernatorial race in the past six weeks.
Below, a look at some of the more memorable claims.
Sponsored by Beverly Perdue
“DIFFERENCE ON VOUCHERS”
McCrory's support for school vouchers is contrasted with Perdue's opposition.
“Pat McCrory supports private school vouchers, taking 900 million taxpayer dollars away from public schools to pay for kids in private schools.”
Facts: About 20 voucher programs are in use in 14 states, according to Jeff Reed, director of the education task force at the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonpartisan association for conservative lawmakers.
Vouchers, or programs in which parents can take tax credits for private education, are typically limited to disabled or disadvantaged students in failing schools, Reed said. No state has a universal voucher program.
McCrory has consistently supported vouchers, but recently he has also said he would limit them.
During the Republican primary this year, he pitched vouchers as a way to increase competition among schools and offer parents more choices.
“The more competition we have, the more choice you have in education, the better our education is going to be for our kids,” he told a Hendersonville crowd in March. “And parents must have these choices, both with charter schools, school vouchers, and also more choice at the local school.”
In a candidate questionnaire distributed by the N.C. Family Policy Council, McCrory answered “yes” to, “Should parents who choose to educate their children in private, religious, or home schools receive a voucher or tax credit from the state?”
The $900 million figure is based on calculations that assume every student home schooled or enrolled in private school in North Carolina would get a voucher. That would be a much more extensive program than is available in any other state.
Sponsored by Pat McCrory
McCrory contrasts his support for offshore drilling in North Carolina with Perdue's opposition.
“I support conservation, deep-sea exploration for natural gas and oil. Beverly Perdue is 100 percent opposed and says it won't happen on her watch.”
Facts: In mid-June, national Republicans began calling for a reconsideration of a federal moratorium on offshore drilling in the United States.
On June 18, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beverly Perdue issued a press release saying she was “100 percent opposed to oil drilling off the coast of North Carolina.”
At an appearance before the N.C. Press Association that day, Perdue said that drilling would never occur during her administration.
“On my watch, we'll never solve the gas problem by drilling off the coast of North Carolina,” she said.
“That's politically popular. If you want somebody who looks at a poll and gets solutions, that's not me.”
On Aug. 13 – the same day McCrory unveiled his ad – Perdue announced that she had shifted positions in a letter previously sent to U.S. Rep. David Price but not made public until then.
She now says she would appoint an independent panel of scientists and engineers to study the issue before making a decision on whether to allow offshore drilling in North Carolina.
Sponsored by Republican Governors Association
“STATUS QUO BEVERLY PERDUE”
Perdue's record on taxes is criticized.
“Perdue presided over $6 billion in new taxes.”
Facts: Perdue represented the New Bern area in the state legislature from 1987 until 2001. She has since served as lieutenant governor, a position where she presides over the N.C. Senate. She can vote only in the case of a tie, so her role in tax changes since 2001 has been only procedural.
The Republican Governors Association says the “$6 billion in new taxes” figure is the amount raised by new taxes imposed from 2001 through 2006. Almost half of that came from two temporary taxes that lawmakers and Gov. Mike Easley imposed because of a 2001 budget crisis: an extra half-cent sales tax and a new upper-income tax bracket.
The rest came from more than 60 other tax changes. Easley and lawmakers have also cut taxes since 2001.
Perdue “presided” over tax increases in the sense that she held the gavel and helped record senators' votes, but her role was procedural.
She did not propose the increases or vote on them.
Sponsored by Beverly Perdue
“WHEN I HEAR”
A woman paralyzed by primary lateral sclerosis says through a voice box that Pat McCrory opposes embryonic stem cell research.
“So when I hear politicians like Pat McCrory say he wants to ban embryonic stem cell research, I ask myself, how can he be against hope?”
Facts: The state of North Carolina currently does not subsidize embryonic stem cell research or ban it.
During the Republican gubernatorial primary, the N.C. Family Policy Council, a nonpartisan group that advocates for Judeo-Christian values, sent a questionnaire to McCrory and other candidates.
One of the questions was about stem cell research: “Should the stem cells of a human embryo be used for research purposes when the act of obtaining the stem cells results in the destruction of the human embryo?”
McCrory answered “no.”
He later said that he supports stem cell research using adult cells or amniotic cells, neither of which involve embryos, but scientists contend those forms of research, while promising, have not yielded nearly the same level of progress.
Perdue's campaign could not produce evidence that McCrory ever said he would ban embryonic stem cell research.
McCrory strategist Jack Hawke confirmed, only after the ad ran, that McCrory, as governor, would support legislation that prohibited stem cell research in which the embryo was destroyed.
Perdue's campaign gambled on that being the answer, but had no proof when they produced the ad.