Raleigh, N.C. — Could two former big-city mayors face off in North Carolina's 2016 gubernatorial election?
Former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said Wednesday that he is considering seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in three years.
Meeker, a lawyer, served as Raleigh mayor for a record 10 years before deciding in 2011 not to seek a sixth two-year term.
"When I left office a couple of years ago, I was thinking I was pretty much done," Meeker said. "But people ask me all the time on the street, 'What can we do? Are you thinking about possibly being a candidate?' And actually I am going to take a look at it in the spring of 2015 to see where things are and see if there's a role for me to play."
He said he believes the state deserves better than the leadership currently in office.
"We have schools, community colleges, that are way, way under-funded," Meeker said. "We have unemployment that is very high in rural communities and our small towns. There are really no programs to address that. We're a much better state than that. We ought to have a much brighter future than what's going on right now."
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has suffered several public relations miscues since he took office in January, from exaggerating his interaction with people protesting the GOP legislative agenda to offering cookies to women calling for him to veto new abortion regulations to the hefty raises given to two young former campaign staffers in their new Department of Health and Human Services jobs.
On Wednesday, lawmakers also gave McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, a stinging defeat by easily overriding the only two vetoes he issued this session.
Two other Democrats have already said they plan to seek the party's gubernatorial nomination in 2016: Ken Spaulding, a Durham attorney and former lawmaker, and James Protzman, a Chapel Hill businessman.
David McLennan, a political science professor at William Peace University in Raleigh, Meeker's announcement surprised him.
Gubernatorial politics would mark a big leap for Meeker, and he could have an uphill battle to gain traction because he doesn't have statewide name recognition, McLennan said. He also might have difficulty raising money from major Democratic donors, many of whom may have already sided with someone like Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is rumored to be thinking about a 2016 run at governor.