Cover Story: Perdue/McCrory - no rematch

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - One day after North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue announced she won't seek re-election some are asking if the Democrats have enough time to mount a serious campaign for the office.

Candidates have just over two weeks until they can start filing to run for governor.  And it certainly seems like there's a lot of people interested in the job.

One pol likened it to the legendary Oklahoma land rush:  Line up, fire the gun and see who gets to the finish line first.

The candidate who gets on TV and gets his or her name out there first will immediately become the Democratic front-runner.

North Carolina's Democratic notables are asking themselves a question that would have seem preposterous just a few days ago.

Can I be the next governor?

Bev Perdue's announcement Thursday not to seek a second term has elected Democrats, former Democrats and ex-candidates scrambling to see whether they want to run in a primary in May about 100 days away.

To do so requires filing for office starting February 13th, two weeks and change.

What will it take?  A lot of money and the capacity to have your life laid bare.

North Carolina's longest-serving governor was Democrat Jim Hunt who had the office for 16 years.

"I think things have become a lot more partisan all across the country," Hunt said. "It's almost toxic in Washington and it's been pretty tough here. Maybe this is a time everybody kinda backs off a little bit and says, "Hey let's get along together more."

Privately some Democrats are fuming that Perdue waited so late to decide - that's not usually the way it's done in North Carolina.

Only Walter Dalton, the current lieutenant governor from Rutherfordton appears to have had a head start

He had already raised $600,000 in a re-election bid for the number 2 spot.  Now he will turn that over into a gubernatorial war chest.

One candidate who won't have to worry is Republican Pat McCrory.

Unless one emerges there may not even be a primary challenge for the GOP nomination.

And now that Bev Perdue won't run  there won't be an incumbent to oppose either.

Why did she drop out?

McCrory said:  "I have no idea what her rationale is. She and I did not have a lot of conversations during the past several years."

The former seven-term Charlotte mayor told us this was a scenario his campaign team had played out not necessarily thinking it would ever happen.

The only thing that has changed in the last 24 hours, McCrory says, a flood of campaign support has come his way.

Are there any Democrats he's afraid to run against?  We floated several names, McCrory told us, "If I start responding to one name I'd be foolish. I do know this I know personally I think every person who's considering but regardless of that I'm gonna stay focused on our campaign."

McCrory has not officially announced his candidacy.  That will happen next Tuesday in Greensboro not far from where he grew up.

Bev Perdue canceled appointments on Thursday - just released a statement saying she would not seek a second term, and was not in sight on Friday.

The state Democratic Party hosts a major fundraiser Saturday night in Greensboro.  There's speculation she will attend.

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