RALEIGH, N.C. — With North Carolina's election primary five week from Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Beverly Purdue and state Treasurer Richard Moore could be headed for a one-on-one gubernatorial debate.
In a recent letter to the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, Perdue asks the group to oversee the proposed debate to ensure a statewide-televised audience.
Perdue's request comes on the heels of negative ads in recent weeks by both candidates.
Her campaign calls a recent Moore TV ad a "smear" because it mentions a campaign finance investigation related to contributions she and other candidates received during the 1990s.
Perdue had to return the money, and a prosecutor said she did not knowingly receive illegal contributions.
"After seeing the sleazy personal attack, I want an opportunity to look him (Moore) in the eye to confront him with the facts," Perdue said.
Moore campaign spokesman Jay Reiff said the treasurer would "accept any serious debate offer that is fair, has no restrictions on topics and an opportunity for rebuttals."
Moore said he looks forward to a debate where no issue is "off the table."
"I look forward to the opportunity to go toe-to-toe under any circumstances and talk about what we agree on and what we disagree on so the voters see what they'll get in their next governor," he said.
The two leading contenders for the Democratic gubernatorial ticket are expected to take part in an online forum Monday evening on BlueNC, but Moore claims Perdue's "been ducking " other opportunities to debate.
Recent polls give Perdue a double-digit lead over Moore, but she has denied that those numbers were driving her to avoid a televised debate.
She says she's debated in several televised forums. But Moore has said none of those have amounted to genuine debates.
Perdue is also calling on Moore to release public documents that she says he has failed to provide for more than eight months.
"If we're gong to have a debate about our records, then it's time for Richard Moore to come clean regarding the missing public records and the sweetheart deal he gave to State Insurance Services," she said in a news release.
When asked what she thought she would find, she responded: "Nothing would surprise me after watching these sleazy commercials."
Moore has also complained about Perdue ads toward him.
Last week, his campaign wrote the State Board of Elections asking it to investigate a radio commercial sponsored by the National Education Association. The ad does not tell listeners to vote for Perdue but praises her support for education.
The Moore campaign said the ad crosses the line and asks the board to call it illegal. Another ad attacks Moore's fundraising among finance firms that do business with Moore's office.
Jim Hefner, the president of the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters said the group would be "delighted to host a debate."
"(NCAB) looks forward to working with both campaigns to produce a debate that will address the important issues facing state voters," Hefner, also general manager of WRAL-TV, said.
A date, however, has not been scheduled.