Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina's largest state employees union will sit out of this year's gubernatorial election.
The State Employees Association of North Carolina's political action committee did not endorse any candidate in either the races for governor or state treasurer.
"This is the first time in a long, long time, certainly since I've been executive director, we've not made a choice for governor," said Dana Cope, SEANC's executive director.
SEANC endorsed then-Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue in 2008. In 2004, it endorsed Republican Patrick Ballantine.
This year, Democrat Walter Dalton faces Republican Pat McCrory and Libertarian Barbara Howe. SEANC's non-endorsement could be viewed as something of a win for McCrory, since unions are traditionally more friendly to –and a source of grassroots workers for – Democratic causes.
SEANC's endorsements are based upon interviews, Cope said. In the case of the candidate for governor, he said, the committee was most interested in how candidates viewed the importance of state workers to providing good quality services. SEANC has been fighting efforts to privatize some state jobs.
"I don't think our committee felt either candidate addressed those issues adequately," Cope said.
In the race for treasurer, Cope said that incumbent Janet Cowell's views generally lined up more with those of SEANC, but she has resisted efforts to turn management of the state pension fund over to a board of trustees. Currently, the state treasurer is the lone individual making decisions for the $75 billion pension fund. Cope said her Republican rival, Steven Royal, was more in step with SEANC on the sole fiduciary question but less so on other issues.
The group also made endorsements in a number of legislative races. One split of note: SEANC members voted to back Sen. Phil Berger, the current president pro tempore of the Senate but did not offer backing to House Speaker Thom Tillis.