Politics & Government

McCrory and Perdue differ on vouchers

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory said Saturday that he is running for governor to bring needed changes to state government.

But his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue, criticized McCrory's support for vouchers for private schools, saying it would undermine efforts to improve public education in North Carolina.

“As governor, I will not be distracted by experiments like vouchers and private school tuition,” Perdue told several hundred attorneys at the N.C. Bar Association convention in the first debate of the governor's race. “Vouchers take money away from the public schools. I am not going to take my eye off the prize and allow vouchers to break the back of public schools.”

McCrory, the Republican candidate for governor, deferred questions on vouchers. Instead, McCrory focused on problems he saw in Raleigh.

“I want to change the culture of government in the state of North Carolina,” McCrory said. “I will be a governor who gets out of the governor's mansion to see what your problems are.” He said he would work to create a state legislature “that does not have corruption” and does not make “back-room deals” behind closed doors.

The gubernatorial debate was far less contentious than the U.S. Senate debate held minutes earlier in a large ballroom of a coastal hotel. Perdue, a veteran of state politics, showed more nerves than McCrory, who is making his first run for statewide office.

Perdue's voice quavered on several occasions, while McCrory appeared more relaxed and folksy, using anecdotes about TV star Andy Griffith and television programs such as “Law and Order” and “CSI” to make points.

While McCrory did not directly criticize Perdue, he sought to tie her into Raleigh's political system.

McCrory directed more criticism at Democratic Gov. Mike Easley, who is not seeking re-election. McCrory said he would visit factory floors and would not use an expensive limousine to do it – a reference to Easley's industrial recruiting trip to Italy this spring.

“We don't need that,” McCrory said. “We need to find out what is happening out on the manufacturing floors.”

Perdue zeroed in on the voucher question. Although Perdue did not mention McCrory by name during the debate, she later told reporters she was referring to his previously stated support for vouchers. McCrory did not respond to her voucher comment during the debate, but afterward told reporters that he would talk more about his views on vouchers later in his campaign.

He did say he favors giving parents more choice in where to send their children to schools. He also favors the state allowing more charter schools – schools run with public money but who are given more independence to develop their own programs – to be opened in North Carolina.

The voucher issue presents a bit of political deja vu. In the 2000 governor's race, Easley used the voucher issue to portray Republican Richard Vinroot as being against public schools. Several of Perdue's key advisers also worked in the Easley campaign.

Perdue talked about her record as a legislator and lieutenant in championing education, re-school programs, health care programs and in protecting military bases from the 2005 round of federal base closings.

McCrory said he would put a new emphasis on vocational education, not only to provide needed skills but also to help keep more young people in school.

“I would like to put the word technical back in the community colleges,” he said.

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory said Saturday that he is running for governor to bring needed changes to state government.

But his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue, criticized McCrory's support for vouchers for private schools, saying it would undermine efforts to improve public education in North Carolina.

“As governor, I will not be distracted by experiments like vouchers and private school tuition,” Perdue told several hundred attorneys at the N.C. Bar Association convention in the first debate of the governor's race. “Vouchers take money away from the public schools. I am not going to take my eye off the prize and allow vouchers to break the back of public schools.”

McCrory, the Republican candidate for governor, deferred questions on vouchers. Instead, McCrory focused on problems he saw in Raleigh.

“I want to change the culture of government in the state of North Carolina,” McCrory said. “I will be a governor who gets out of the governor's mansion to see what your problems are.” He said he would work to create a state legislature “that does not have corruption” and does not make “back-room deals” behind closed doors.

The gubernatorial debate was far less contentious than the U.S. Senate debate held minutes earlier in a large ballroom of a coastal hotel. Perdue, a veteran of state politics, showed more nerves than McCrory, who is making his first run for statewide office.

Perdue's voice quavered on several occasions, while McCrory appeared more relaxed and folksy, using anecdotes about TV star Andy Griffith and television programs such as “Law and Order” and “CSI” to make points.

While McCrory did not directly criticize Perdue, he sought to tie her into Raleigh's political system.

McCrory directed more criticism at Democratic Gov. Mike Easley, who is not seeking re-election. McCrory said he would visit factory floors and would not use an expensive limousine to do it – a reference to Easley's industrial recruiting trip to Italy this spring.

“We don't need that,” McCrory said. “We need to find out what is happening out on the manufacturing floors.”

Perdue zeroed in on the voucher question. Although Perdue did not mention McCrory by name during the debate, she later told reporters she was referring to his previously stated support for vouchers. McCrory did not respond to her voucher comment during the debate, but afterward told reporters that he would talk more about his views on vouchers later in his campaign.

He did say he favors giving parents more choice in where to send their children to schools. He also favors the state allowing more charter schools – schools run with public money but who are given more independence to develop their own programs – to be opened in North Carolina.

The voucher issue presents a bit of political deja vu. In the 2000 governor's race, Easley used the voucher issue to portray Republican Richard Vinroot as being against public schools. Several of Perdue's key advisers also worked in the Easley campaign.

Perdue talked about her record as a legislator and lieutenant in championing education, re-school programs, health care programs and in protecting military bases from the 2005 round of federal base closings.

McCrory said he would put a new emphasis on vocational education, not only to provide needed skills but also to help keep more young people in school.

“I would like to put the word technical back in the community colleges,” he said.

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