Local Politics

GOP Gubernatorial Race Heating Up

Posted January 15, 2008 7:28 p.m. EST
Updated January 15, 2008 9:48 p.m. EST

— Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory entered the race for governor Tuesday. His entry was expected to shake up a once-quiet Republican primary.

Polls show McCrory is an immediate contender with the three other GOP candidates: Salisbury attorney Bill Graham, former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr and state Sen. Fred Smith.

Three Democrats are seeking their party's nomination: Lt. Governor Bev Perdue, State Treasurer Richard Moore and a lesser known candidate Dennis Nielsen, a retired Air Force officer.

McCrory soaked up all the media attention surrounding his announcement Tuesday.

“I'm proud to announce that I will seek to become the next governor of North Carolina,” he said.

The hype also made McCrory a target.

“I think clearly Pat McCrory is a big-government candidate. I think there's very little difference between Pat and Democrats that are running,” Smith said.

Smith touts business experience and a conservative political agenda as his strengths in the gubernatorial race.

“We believe that Bill Graham is the best candidate to lead our ticket because he's an outsider. He offers a new, strong, bold conservative brand of leadership,” Graham consultant Dee Stewart said.

Graham's team sees his lack of political experience as an asset.

Orr argues his opposition to government tax incentives for corporations clearly sets him apart from his rivals. He also sees drawbacks to McCrory's long tenure as mayor.

“You've got to be out there talking to people, and Pat – literally he's not been beyond the bounds of Charlotte other than certain meetings,” Orr said.

“What we have in the other candidates are critics and bureaucrats,” Smith said.

The relatively quiet GOP campaigns are sure to heat up this year, with voters ultimately deciding who fits the bill.

“The question is, who's going to talk beyond the sound bite?” Orr said.

Thursday night, the GOP candidates will have an opportunity to go beyond the sound bites.

For the first time, all four candidates will meet in a debate on WRAL. The debate will air live at 7 p.m. on WRAL and WRAL.com. You can also watch it on your cell phone. Just type WRAL.com in your mobile Web browser.