Fellow Democrat to Perdue: Step aside

Sometime Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Rep. Bill Faison says he believes Gov. Bev Perdue will "do the right thing and decide not to run" for re-election in 2012.

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Laura Leslie

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Monday that Gov. Bev Perdue is not the focus of a year-long campaign finance investigation that led to the indictments of two of her former staffers and a longtime friend.

Still, the charges are apparently enough to embolden Rep. Bill Faison, who said earlier after some controversy that he would not challenge Perdue in a primary.

Faison, D-Orange, said Tuesday he believes Perdue will step aside.

“You have all these indictments. And the focus of the governor’s office ought to be on the people and ought to be dealing with the economic crisis we got,” Faison said.

“Clearly, the DA is saying that they’re still investigating this matter, so it’s not over. Clearly, the governor’s office is focused on those investigations and the consequences of them, and the focus ought to be on the people," he said.

"So I think, ultimately, Gov. Perdue will do the right thing and decide not to run. I don’t believe you’ll ever see her file,” Faison said.

Perdue’s campaign announced in November 2010 she would run for re-election, and campaign consultant Marc Farinella reiterated that Tuesday.

"Gov. Perdue is running for re-election. I can say that unequivocally," Farinella said.

Perdue campaign manager Fiona Conroy noted that fundraising is "going very well."

"We are organizing our campaign team, and we are preparing for the campaign ahead,” Conroy said.

Faison admitted he had not had a discussion with Perdue about her plans for 2012.

“But I’m looking at what she’s doing, and I’m not seeing the actions of somebody’s who’s running for governor," he said. "I don’t see conduct that looks like somebody who’s running a gubernatorial campaign.

“I know she’s put a lot of her own money into the campaign – probably three-quarters of a million dollars – and I don’t know whether she’s raised enough money to get it back,” he said. “But what I don’t see is what looks like a major fundraising effort, and if you compare what she’s doing and what (Pat) McCrory’s doing, they appear to be dramatically different.”

McCrory, the former Charlotte mayor who lost to Perdue in the 2008 election, is widely seen as the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2012.

Faison cited a fundraising appeal he said Democratic lawmakers had received from Perdue’s campaign.

“When you’re bringing in national figures to help you with fundraising, it looks like you’re really trying to do something," he said. "If what you’re doing is trying to raise money out of folks who are running for office, rather than helping them raise money, then it doesn’t really look like you’re serious about stepping up and getting it done – at least not to me.”

He suggested her fundraising is only to repay her campaign debt.

“Perhaps she wants to pay back her campaign debt,” Faison said. “I don’t know. As long as she’s in negative numbers and still owes more money to herself than she’s paid back, I suppose that could be an answer to the question.”

Farinella said Faison is only interested in pushing Perdue aside so he can run for governor.

"Bill Faison thinks he ought to have a higher office. He wants to be governor or senator or president, and he thinks the way to do that is to spread innuendos and falsehoods about someone else," Farinella said. "She is running, and Mr. Faison, I think, needs to come to terms with that. He is not going to be the Democratic candidate for governor, as much as he wants to."

Faison said he is again considering a run for governor.

“Well, I certainly think we need strong leadership at the top of the ticket, and I’m certainly giving consideration to it. That’s a decision for some time in the future,” he said.

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