McCrory, Perdue spar over lottery

Gubernatorial candidates Bev Perdue and Pat McCrory tussled Wednesday over McCrory's willingness to repeal North Carolina's lottery.

Perdue, the Democratic nominee, highlighted McCrory's answers in March to a candidate questionnaire from the conservative N.C. Family Policy Council. The questionnaire asked, “Should the law that authorizes a state sponsored lottery in North Carolina be repealed?”

McCrory, a Republican and Charlotte's seven-term mayor, answered “Yes.” He then elaborated: “Repeal would be good but difficult since money has already been committed and budgeted for future years.”

Perdue's campaign said rolling back the lottery would create a $350 million hole in the state's education budget. In a news release, Perdue spokesman David Kochman accused McCrory of ducking the topic Wednesday in Asheville, where both candidates spoke to a group of school administrators.

“Pat McCrory wants to repeal the lottery – he just doesn't want North Carolina's educators to know it,” Kochman said.

McCrory's campaign responded that he has been consistent on the lottery – preferring repeal but recognizing the budget complications that such an effort would cause. He has called for limiting advertising, such as the times when television ads can be shown.

“Pat McCrory thinks there needs to be changes to the lottery program as it exists, while it's obvious that ‘Negative Bev' once again supports a failed status quo,” McCrory campaign manager Richard Hudson said in a news release.

All but one of the five GOP candidates for governor supported repeal. Elbie Powers did not. Perdue did not answer the questionnaire, but she has supported the lottery and cast the tying vote in the N.C. Senate in favor of it.

The General Assembly approved the lottery in 2005, after supporters had failed for more than two decades. Money from the lottery helps pay for a pre-kindergarten program, smaller class sizes, new schools and college scholarships, though it remains a small percentage of state education spending.

In another past statement about the lottery, McCrory criticized its merits but stopped short of calling for repeal.

In late April or early May, he told The News & Observer in Raleigh: “The political reality is they've already committed the money to the lottery and it's going to be very difficult to return back to the days when we weren't dependent on revenue which I think is preying primarily on the poor and the others who think there is a free ride.”