State to Watch in 2012 — North Carolina


By: David Bozeman
Whatever the outcome of Election 2012, North Carolinians can already   celebrate knowing that the saucy  Bev Perdue (D) will step down as   governor come January.  One of the nation’s least popular, she declined   to seek a second term, citing the extreme divisiveness of a re-election   battle.  Sadly, her pathetic legacy could well endure with the victory of   her lieutenant governor, Walter Dalton.
Still, the affable Dalton, a one-time attorney turned legislator, will   likely never match Perdue in terms of tastelessness and buffoonery.    Governor Dumplin’ (as Rush Limbaugh refers to her) infamously lamented that   regular election cycles were an impediment to enacting important legislation   and, thus, maybe, the next one should be delayed.  She claimed she was   speaking in jest.  After state voters approved a constitutional   amendment defining marriage as one man/one woman, she quipped that we looked   to the rest of the nation like Mississippi.  Whatever one thinks of gay   marriage, even the most politically tone-deaf can discern the folly of   insulting your fellow citizens and, as a southern governor, trading in the   nastiest of regional stereotypes.
North Carolina remains vibrant, attractive and consistently ranks as one   the best states for business creation (due largely to overall quality of   life).  Yet the unemployment rate, 9.4%, is among the nation’s   highest.  Income, sales and corporate tax increases in 2009, and sales   tax increases proposed for 2012, have not enhanced the state’s reputation as   an economic powerhouse. The Tax Foundation recently ranked the state 44th   in overall tax climate.
But whatever damage Democrats inflict on a state, they always hide   behind, you guessed it, the children.  Even the lottery bears the   official name of ‘The North Carolina Education Lottery.’  In proposing to   tax Internet sweepstakes winnings to fund education, the governor went all   mushy, claiming that, in North Carolina, the children come first.  Don’t   let her aw-shucks demeanor fool you, Perdue is as close to Nancy Pelosi with a   down-home drawl as voters will allow.
But, alas, all we continue to hear is that education is   under-funded.  Despite a twenty year lock on the governorship and decades   of legislative control, Democrats can never seem to secure enough tax dollars   for the schools.  Moving forward, election 2012 seems almost a mini   version of the presidential race.  Republican Pat McCrory (Charlotte   mayor, 1995-2009, a record seven terms), a one-time Duke Energy executive, is   stressing his professional life, much of which he has devoted to   private-sector economic development.  He  merits at least some   credit for the southern economic giant that is Charlotte, a national commerce   and transportation hub in league with Atlanta, and a national   banking center rivaled on the east coast only by New York.
In short, North Carolina matters, certainly to the Democrats, who   are holding their convention in Charlotte later this summer.  North   Carolina matters because it is a case study in contradictions.  Once   solid red, the ‘experts’ only reluctantly paint it purple.  The last   Republican governor was elected in 1988, but Republicans controlled the   legislature as of 2010.  The state went for George W. Bush twice but for   Obama — barely — in 2008.  We are center-right but remain   a Democratic stronghold.
To begin reconciling internal contradictions, North Carolina — indeed,   the nation — should galvanize itself behind the true hubs of free enterprise   and prosperity.  State government deserves praise only to the extent that   its policies respect the capital and sweat of its most productive   citizens.  The dour drumbeat emanating from the North Carolina statehouse   echoes over-spending, under-funding and high unemployment.    Whether citizens  look to state government as an engine of   prosperity or to Charlotte, the Triangle and the Triad, could foretell the   nation’s future.  North Carolina is a swing state and could well set   electoral trends, as opposed to just reflecting them.  The magnificent   Charlotte skyline could potentially shine even brighter as a beacon   of opportunity, but, as entertainment, the Bev Perdue sideshow will be   sorely missed.

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