Republican Pat McCrory Tuesday blasted Democratic gubernatorial rival Bev Perdue for what he called misleading ads designed to provoke anti-Charlotte sentiment in other parts of the state.
Speaking to the Charlotte Rotary, McCrory reminded members that Perdue, from New Bern, praised Charlotte when she spoke to the same group earlier this month.
“The problem is, she's saying just the opposite in other parts of the state,” he said to the audience of 250.
McCrory criticized ads such as the TV spot that says he “wants to let New York and New Jersey dump their garbage in North Carolina” – a particularly sensitive issue in rural eastern North Carolina. And a new radio ad features a pair of self-styled “country boys” suggesting that McCrory wants to build roads in Charlotte at the expense of rural areas.
“I am surprised he even thinks us folks out in the country can read,” one man says in the ad which the Perdue campaign says is airing statewide.
Perdue spokesman Dave Kochman says the ads are based on statements McCrory has made.
“Those ads are about Pat McCrory and his record of pitting one region against another,” he said, “and that's the wrong direction for North Carolina.”
Tom Jensen, a spokesman for the Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling, cited Perdue's ads on his blog Tuesday.
“Bev Perdue's campaign has made a clear calculus that they're willing to tick off Charlotte voters if it allows them to rack up the kind of margins they need to win in eastern North Carolina,” he wrote. “Right now it seems to be working. …
“If there was no inherent anti-Charlotte bias with voters outside the state of Mecklenburg, it seems, the Perdue campaign is trying to create one.”
Jensen's latest poll showed Perdue with a slight edge. Since the ads began, he said, she has widened her lead in the east while widening her deficit in the Charlotte region.
His poll showed McCrory up 17 points in Charlotte area, a region expected to cast about 20 percent of the total statewide vote.
Perdue, who appeared at UNC Charlotte Tuesday, has stepped up her Charlotte appearances, visiting five times in the last two weeks. She told crowds that, as governor, she would work in Charlotte three or four days a month, and called making Charlotte residents feel like a part of the state one of her biggest priorities as governor.
Perdue also talked about Charlotte during a visit to Burlington Saturday.
“For some reason,” she said of McCrory, “in his mind he had the audacity to tell the folks of Charlotte that maybe the best way for him to serve Charlotte is by becoming governor.”
Her comment apparently refers to an answer McCrory gave to someone who asked why he would want to leave his job as mayor. He said the best way he could serve Charlotte and the rest of state was by becoming governor.
McCrory called Perdue's “trash” ad “very effective” if misleading. It refers to the Solid Waste Management Act of 2007. Favored by environmentalists, it was designed to restrict new landfills in the state. McCrory and other urban leaders opposed it because it levied new taxes on municipalities.
In Perdue's radio ad, one “country boy” says McCrory “said Charlotte's getting ripped off and he'd take money away from rural highways.”
That's based on McCrory's comments on the state's road-funding formula, which was designed nearly 20 years ago to ensure rural communities got a share. Some transportation leaders now question whether the formula serves the mushrooming population and traffic growth in urban areas.
“She should be ashamed of running ads that are not only negative but outright lies and distortions,” McCrory said.