Local Politics

No minority candidates, but race still an issue

Posted May 1, 2008 6:23 p.m. EDT
Updated May 1, 2008 6:58 p.m. EDT

— Controversial advertisements have injected race into the Democratic race for governor in the closing weeks of the primary campaign.

State Treasurer Richard Moore has been airing two ads questioning Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue's commitment to civil rights. One noted she voted against a 1987 bill in the General Assembly that would have given the State Bureau of Investigation more power to investigate hate groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan.

The latest ad, which has been playing on urban radio stations, features two men in a barbershop talking about a Georgia store owned by Perdue's husband that sells Confederate-themed merchandise.

Raychon McKoy, a barber at Newkirk's Barbershop in Raleigh, said he ignores such negative ads.

"You're so used to the formality of each one trashing one another. So, you don't really pay attention to detail," McKoy said.

A few chairs away, barber Roger White said the commercial resonates with him and others.

"When you hear things like that, true or false, it makes you put up an eyebrow," White said.

Former Gov. Jim Hunt criticized Moore this week for playing a race card against Perdue.

The black vote is critical in the Democratic primary, making up 35 to 40 percent of the vote.

Perdue's campaign has responded with an ad denouncing Moore's "outrageous negative attacks" in an effort to settle any qualms among black voters. The campaign also has asked television stations to inform them if Moore decides to run any last-minute negative ads.

Republican political strategist Carter Wrenn said Moore's ads smack of desperation, calling his argument "a stretch."

Wrenn is familiar with evoking race in a campaign. He created an infamous ad during the 1990 U.S. Senate race depicting a white man's hands crumpling a job rejection letter as a narrator talks about racial quotas. The ad helped Sen. Jesse Helms beat Democratic challenger Harvey Gantt.

"You get in a campaign – you get in the heat of the moment – and you do look back on things and say, 'You know, I shouldn't have done that,'" Wrenn said.