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Perdue's election comment sparks controversy

Posted September 27, 2011 7:04 p.m. EDT
Updated September 28, 2011 6:57 p.m. EDT

Aides to Gov. Bev Perdue are downplaying remarks she made at a Cary Rotary luncheon today about suspending the next congressional election. 

Spokesman Mark Johnson confirms that Perdue, speaking off the cuff as she often does, told the crowd that partisanship in Washington is keeping Congress from doing its job.  She said lawmakers are too worried about re-election to work across party lines. 

"I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover," Perdue said.

"The one good thing about Raleigh is that for so many years we worked across party lines," she continued. "You want people who don't worry about the next election."  

Her unscripted remarks went viral this afternoon on conservative sites like the Daily Caller and the Drudge Report, where the banner headline read, "Dem Guv calls for suspending elections."

It even drew a somewhat tongue-in-cheek response from Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham: “In light of Gov. Perdue’s support for suspending Congressional elections, I want to state clearly, on the record, that I do NOT support suspending our next gubernatorial election.”

This being election season, Perdue's presumed GOP opponent Pat McCrory couldn't resist a jab, either.  

"Not only does this bizarre commentary suggest ignoring the Constitution, but does Governor Perdue forget her own inability to work with the Legislature, regardless if controlled by Democrats or Republicans?" McCrory wrote. "Governor, those in glass houses should not throw stones. We look forward to all of the upcoming elections in North Carolina in 2012."

Perdue's press secretary Chris Mackey said the remark had been taken out of context. “Come on," she wrote in an emailed statement. "Gov. Perdue was obviously using hyperbole to highlight what we can all agree is a serious problem: Washington politicians who focus on their own election instead of what’s best for the people they serve,” Mackey said.

It was a rough day in general for Perdue, whose penchant for ad lib remarks has gotten her into trouble before.  At an event this morning announcing an SBA grant program promoting exports, the governor showed up late, stumbled through her speech, and referred several times to Raleigh Denim co-founder Victor Lytvinenko as "David."  Victor's wife Sarah, standing behind Perdue at the podium, winced visibly as the governor repeated her mistake.