If Beverly Perdue is not the worst governor in North Carolina’s long history, she is at least the worst in recent memory. She even managed to surpass her predecessor, convicted felon Mike Easley.
It would be amusing, if it were not so sad, to watch Perdue and her lackeys try to cover for her dismal gubernatorial reign. In multiple end-of-term interviews with the press, the lame duck Perdue declared she was a successful leader and could have beaten Pat McCrory, if only she had run.
She is not above playing the victim, telling the Associated Press, “I made tough decisions knowing there’d be consequences, but knowing at the end of the day the results were the right ones for the people of the state.”
The reporter, probably out of pity or because he was biting his tongue trying not to laugh, did not ask her to elaborate.
After a full 26 years in state government, first as a state representative, then as a state senator, lieutenant-governor and, finally, after four years as governor, Perdue has zero legacy. Like the black-listed Mike Easley, she is living proof that in the Democratic Party, if you hang around long enough and don’t get arrested or caught in an extramarital affair, you can be somebody – at least in your own mind.
Perdue is not without moxie when it comes to defending herself. She recently told Raleigh TV station WTVD, “I didn’t want to do it anymore. I’ve done a great job, I believe, and someday the books will say that.”
Apparently, she forgot the 59 percent disapproval rating in the polls when she decided to quit the governor’s race. She also somehow forgot that 11 of her 19 vetoes were overridden by bipartisan coalitions in the General Assembly.
Maybe Perdue caught “Raleighitis” - a disease that long-term politicians catch when they spend too much time in the state capital. Its symptoms are the belief that all problems can be solved within the Raleigh Beltline and that state leaders are, by default, infallible. What else could explain a governor being so out of touch with political reality and the real world?
Why didn’t she offer to work with the Republicans after they took control of the legislature in the 2010 midterm elections? Instead of pulling a ‘Bill Clinton’ and running to the center in order to be the hero, she distanced herself from many popular reforms that she could have owned. She could have been a populist hero fighting Obamacare, balancing the $3 billion deficit in the state budget, instituting voter ID, dismantling the Racial (In)Justice Act, reforming medical malpractice liability and making the state energy independent. Instead, to her detriment, Perdue fought the Republicans on all these popular issues.
The standard line throughout her time in office was her so-called ‘commitment to education.’ Yet, even here her claim falls flat. Perdue continues to falsely bash Republicans for ‘cutting education.’ She never mentions that the difference between her education budget and the one passed in the bipartisan veto override was less than 1.5 percent (a difference of 0.0015).
In the end, Perdue’s legacy is one of failure and missed opportunities because she had so much going for her at the beginning of her term. Even the New York Times listed her as a potential presidential candidate. No hope of such lofty ambitions can remain for her now. She has no one to blame but herself. Perdue could have reached out and worked with Republicans for the benefit of North Carolina. However, she clung to her liberal ideology, locked herself in her ivory tower, sniped at her adversaries and now wonders why no one likes her. She brings to mind Proverbs 25:14, “A person who promises a gift but doesn’t give it is like clouds and wind that bring no rain.” Too bad for her and us.
Thom Goolsby is a state senator, practicing attorney and law professor. He was recently named co-chairman of the Senate Judiciary 1 Committee.