Local Politics

Charlotte's Mayor Looks Like He's Bidding for GOP Gubernatorial Nod

Some in politics say there's a curse working against Charlotte mayors who reach for state office, but political insiders are not buying that in Pat McCrory's case.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — There were more signs Thursday that the field of Republican candidates for governor is about to get bigger.

Sources say Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory is calling business people and lawmakers, telling them he plans to run.

That raises the question of whether McCrory can break the string of mayors who lost bids for governor and senate. Political observers say, though, that the Charlotte curse is a bit overblown.

“I don't think people vote on where people come from for a leadership position,” McCrory said.

He downplayed the so-called curse that stems from predecessors like Richard Vinroot, Sue Myrick, Harvey Gantt and Eddie Knox all falling short in their chase for statewide office.

“East of Raleigh, they hear ‘Charlotte.’ They really think that Charlotte considers itself a different and better place,” said Gary Pearce, a Democratic political consultant.

”The eastern part of the state looked at Charlotte as part of South Carolina and, as they say, the ‘Great State of Mecklenburg,’” said Ballard Everett, a GOP political consultant.

Everett thinks that perception softened over time, however. Plus, he said he thinks McCrory benefits from a growing base of moderate Republicans more than the other GOP candidates for governor do.

“I would just have to give the edge to McCrory,” Everett said.

“As a Democrat myself, McCrory would worry me,” Pearce said.

Pearce points out that the Charlotte area has deep corporate pockets from which to pull support. Plus, the Mecklenburg County region accounts of about a third of past GOP primary voters.

That didn't carry past Charlotte mayors to victory, but Pearce and others said they believe McCrory's future hinges more on timing and competition than location.

“I tend to think the Charlotte curse is more coincidence than a real curse,” Pearce said.

Curse or not, the official GOP candidates for governor – Bill Graham, Fred Smith and Bob Orr – say they're not about to concede the race to McCrory.

Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue and State Treasurer Richard Moore are battling for the Democratic nomination.


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