RALEIGH, N.C. — Less than a month before the state primary, Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue has decided to stop running ads attacking her chief Democratic rival, state Treasurer Richard Moore, because her supporters have convinced her to do so.
"This goes against every single piece of political advice that a professional consultant gives to the candidate. You're supposed to fight negative with negative," Perdue told reporters. "I did that for a while, and I just am not going to do that anymore."
Perdue's past ads have criticized Moore for his ties to Wall Street and his office's dealings with an insurance provider that sells coverage to retired state workers.
"Win or lose, this is the way I want to run this campaign," Perdue said.
But political strategists and consultant Gary Pearce, whose not involved in the race, says Perdue is taking a big risk in her decision.
"I suspect this is one of those things that sounds really good today, and it's a good headline, but she's going to end up regretting it," he said.
Although voters dislike negative ads, they work, Pearce said. Candidates not attacking are setting themselves up to be attacked.
"Anything from her or the campaign that sounds the least bit negative, Moore's going to say 'Ah ha! She's broken her promise. She's being not only negative, she's being a hypocrite, and you can't trust her,'" Pearce said.
Moore's campaign, which has been critical of Perdue for not formally debating him, called Perdue's decision nothing more than a stunt, saying it is a clear sign that her ads have backfired.
"This pledge, or whatever it is, is all about not wanting to talk about her record," campaign manager Jay Reiff said. "And we believe that each candidate's record is a fair discussion point to have in this."
Moore has also run critical ads – what Reiff describes as truthful – calling out Perdue for her votes as a legislator in favor of college tuition hikes and against tax cuts.
"The fact there's been really no debates is part of the reason why we're having these discussions on TV ads, and that's unfortunate for voters," Reiff said.
Perdue has said she participated in several televised forums with Moore, but he has said none have amounted to genuine debates.
Last week, she asked the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters to arrange a statewide-televised debate – for her to confront the ads Moore has run. A tentative date is scheduled for April 22.
Perdue said Thursday she's not asking Moore to follow suit with campaign ads, saying she is only focusing on her campaign.
"I can't control what he does and don't want to try," she said.