Bev Perdue stumps for governor in Rowan
By Steve Huffman
Bev Perdue climbed atop a folding chair before addressing a group gathered on a rainy Wednesday afternoon in the Rowan County Democratic Party headquarters.
“I’ve grown quite a bit since this morning,” Perdue joked as she looked down on the group of 200 or so who crowded the building on West Innes Street in downtown Salisbury to see her.
Perdue, the Democratic candidate for governor, stopped in Salisbury while stumping the area on a campaign march. She was in Charlotte earlier in the day and was scheduled to visit Statesville and Hickory after leaving Rowan County.
The crowd she found here was an enthusiastic bunch, members repeatedly applauding and cheering her.
“I’m just proud of all our Democrats for coming out in the rain and filling this building,” said Steve Drinkard, treasurer of the Rowan County Democrats.
“And I was very impressed with Bev, too.”
Perdue touched on a handful of issues during a 20-minute address to the crowd. She told the group of her humble beginnings, born in the coal mining town of Grundy, Va., before moving south to North Carolina.
Perdue laughed that members of the press referred to her debate earlier in the week with Pat McCrory, her Republican challenger, as “testy.”
“I’m a coal miner’s daughter,” Perdue said. “I like testy.”
Perdue said neither of her parents so much as graduated high school. She said that while her father went on to become a financial success, he always regretted having quit school, a mistake Perdue said she vowed early in life she wouldn’t repeat.
“I watched Daddy say, ‘I wish I had a high school diploma,’ ” Perdue said. “It didn’t matter how successful he became.”
She said it’s important today that young people realize the importance of a quality education, noting, “You don’t get to good jobs without a good education.”
She said the differences between herself and McCrory are “clear, distinct and stark.”
Perdue said McCrory supports financial vouchers for parents wishing to send their children to private schools. She said that while she’s not opposed to private schools, she doesn’t feel they should be supported at the expense of public schools.
Perdue said McCrory was also opposed to the state’s community colleges educating students for anything more than vocational or technical programs, saying he didn’t believe students should be able to transfer their community college credits to four-year universities.
Perdue said if she needed their services on New Year’s Day, “I’d pay a plumber a lot more than I’d pay a New York lawyer,” a comment that drew laughter.
Perdue said McCrory didn’t believe in universal health insurance for children for fear that if provided, many teenage girls will then purposely get pregnant to take advantage of the offering.
“Is that the kind of leader this fabulous state needs to lead us into the future?” Perdue asked.
She said that by comparison, she was about supporting public schools and health care for all.
“That’s what you get when you get me,” Perdue promised.
She said that as lieutenant governor, she’s helped increase teacher pay from 43rd in the country to 21st. Perdue said she’s continued to support tobacco farmers while working to lower the rate of teen smoking to its lowest ever.
She said no smoking is allowed on community college campuses, a positive thing. Even the state’s staunchest supporters of tobacco, Perdue said, are now aware of the health woes it produces.
“You can’t show me a tobacco farmer who’ll say, ‘I’m going to give my child his first cigarette,’ ” Perdue said.
She pleaded with supporters for their help, noting she’s made personal inroads to convert Republicans.
Perdue said when she married, her husband was a Republican. She said today, he’s registered as an unaffiliated voter.
Perdue said when she asked her husband to take that final step and change his party affiliation to Democrat, he replied, “Honey, I love you, but even I can only go so far.”
Just before leaving the Rowan County Party headquarters, Perdue was asked what she’d do about the Interstate 85 bridge that crosses the Yadkin River.
Perdue admitted she wasn’t an expert on the subject, but noted, “I do know it’s bad.”
She said she’d have the matter studied, concluding by saying, “As governor, I’m going to redo the DOT.”
Salisbury’s Renea Krider was one of those who crowded the Democratic Party headquarters to hear Perdue.
She said she liked the candidate.
“From seeing her commercials and seeing her live, I think she’s going to be a good governor,” Krider said.
“We ought to at least give her a chance.”