Local Politics

N.C. Democrats still divided weeks after primary

Posted May 30, 2008 4:56 p.m. EDT
Updated May 30, 2008 9:59 p.m. EDT

— More than three weeks after North Carolina's primary, State Treasurer Richard Moore has yet to publicly endorse Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, who defeated him for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination after a bruising campaign.

Republicans united behind Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, the party's nominee for governor, the day after the primary. Two of McCrory's three primary opponents stood next to him at a news conference, while the third sent a message of support.

Moore, on the other hand, has kept a low profile since the May 6 primary, and he didn't respond to repeated requests from WRAL for an interview.

"I would have thought Richard Moore would have come out before now," said Rufus Edmisten, a former secretary of state and Democratic candidate for governor.

Edmisten said a similar lack of party unity in 1984 likely cost him the election for governor. He prevailed in a bloody runoff with Charlotte Mayor Eddie Knox to win the Democratic nomination.

"I recall a fight one time in the Asheville airport between my supporters and some Eddie Knox supporters," he said. "(It) was quite a fight."

Hard feelings lingered, and Knox never endorsed Edmisten, who lost the general election to Republican Jim Martin.

This year's Democratic contest became testy toward the end, with Moore trying to link Perdue to the Ku Klux Klan and suggesting she didn't support civil rights.

"I think it got a little bit wild on both sides," Edmisten said.

During an April debate, Moore indicated he would be a team player if he lost the primary, and his lack of endorsement for Perdue worries Edmisten.

"I think its going to have an impact unless there's a very vocal showing of coming together," he said.

Democratic political consultant Morgan Jackson said Moore deserved a vacation with his family and time to refocus on being treasurer.

"I think every candidate after a hard-fought election deserves a little time out of the spotlight to get themselves where they need to be," Jackson said, adding that he expects Moore will eventually support Perdue's campaign.

"I think it's very important to have a Democratic front, and I think we will," he said.