Local Politics

Perdue built political career on bucking tradition

Posted October 15, 2008

— Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue has beaten the odds in her political career, becoming the first woman elected to state office from Craven County and North Carolina's first female lieutenant governor.

The Democratic candidate for governor, she hopes to continue the trend and move into the governor's office after the November election.

"I don't let folks tell me no. No's an unacceptable word in my vocabulary," she said. "I'd learned early on to fight for myself and the world, and don't let anybody say, 'You can't.'"

Perdue said she first learned that lesson as a child in Grundy, Va., where her father owned a coal mine. She excelled at school and later was an elementary school teacher before earning a master's degree and doctorate in education administration.

After moving to New Bern, she was hired to administer elderly-care programs for area governments in the mid-1970s.

"(I liked) her personality, her intelligence, just everything about her. Her whole make-up just jumps out at you. It did me," said Roy Fogle, who hired her for the position. "You don't have to draw her a picture."

Perdue continued her career while having a family. In 1986, while working at Craven Medical Center, she decided to run for a state House seat after becoming frustrated by inefficient elder-care policies.

One of the first people Perdue went to see about seeking office was local Democrat Lonnie Pridgen.

"Go home and take care of the babies," Pridgen recalled telling her.

Despite the rejection from New Bern's power brokers, Perdue persisted.

"I went out and sold myself and told people what I could do for them, and folks in this eastern North Carolina district elected me as the first woman they'd ever elected," she said.

Local voters sent her to the House for four years and the state Senate for another 10 years. Much of that time, she was a chief budget writer, and area officials said her influence helped obtain funding for the Neuse River Bridge and improvements at Craven Community College and Tryon Palace

Pridgen said her balance of a hard-charging personality with charm wins over many people.

"She handles herself well in the world of men," he said. "I've been with her at nursing homes. It amazes me how she can work with the elderly."

Despite her political clout, some people in Craven County said she's a big part of an unpopular government establishment.

"She is, you know, probably one of the coveted good ole guys, good ole girls in this state," Republican activist Bob Jones said.

For the past eight years, Perdue has served as lieutenant governor, focusing on health issues and protecting North Carolina military installations from realignment.

Fogle said he thinks the office won't be the end of the line for her.

"I was predicting that some day she would be the first female governor of North Carolina," he said.


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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Oct 16, 2008

    Wow, WRAL is running free political advertising for Beverly Perdue.

    Perdue is part of the political establishment of cronyism and convicted Democrats in Government.

    Perdue is behind a lot of the tax increase of the last few years.

    We don't need Perdue. She'll extended the Easley administration another four years.

    Bring in McCroy, he's for a fresh start in government.

  • TooMuchGovt Oct 16, 2008

    Ask Bev if you can have a school voucher in only an amount of 50% of what the government schools allocate per student, so that you can have some "choice" in where your kids go to school, and her answer will be a resounding "NO". She doesn't like to hear 'no', but she doesn't mind telling others 'no'.

  • FairPlay Oct 16, 2008

    I am an independant and will not vote for her. If you watch in NC Business magazine how she and McRory answer questions, you cannot make out what her answer was she is so all over the place. We need a fresh start here in the state and she smacks too much of the old government. Our taxes and job situation need fixing and she has not done so in the past. I like what McRory has done for Charlotte.

  • UNCfuturealumi Oct 15, 2008

    yes, as I continue to say "them democrats are making, passing a fast buck.." She is part of that..GO MCCRORY

  • decanta Oct 15, 2008

    With all due respect, where has Bev been during the traditional debating season. I am glad she decided to join Munger and McCrory tonight. What I don't like to see are these light-news stories that seem a bit more commercial promotion than actual worthy news.

    Looking forward to seeing similar stories for Mr. Munger and Mr. McCrory.

  • Little John Oct 15, 2008

    I have been a Republican police officer for many years, but now I have had enough. I will be voting as a Democrat for Governor. I think Bev. Perdue did a great job with the debate tonight. My brother is a police officer in Charlotte, and he tells me that McCrory has no passion for CPD

  • saltnsanddefenderofdamiddleclass Oct 15, 2008

    We do need her in office to look after our best interests. Why, Easley has been doing that for his terms and we need it to continue. Look at all those jobs created by traveling to europe...just hink what bev can do when they buy that jet(you don't think that's gone away, do you?)

  • 07GoldWinger Oct 15, 2008

    Joker918, I like your position better than burtward2's. I am a registered Democrat but will not vote for her.

  • Corvus Oct 15, 2008

    Why don't we make her the first female to run for governor and fail?

  • Ready2Taxi Oct 15, 2008

    Is this column reporting or advertising? From the same organization that was "shocked" to learn Jim Black was actually a corrupt politician.