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McCrory remains coy about election plans

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory says he’s not yet ready to enter the governor’s race, but he plans to make his official announcement at the start of 2012.
McCrory paid a visit Tuesday to Salisbury, which the Catawba College graduate said “has a special place in my heart.”
After attending a luncheon and meeting with the Catawba College Board of Trustees, he stopped by the Salisbury Post to talk about his goals for the state and his campaign plans.
In the 2008 race for North Carolina governor, the Republican lost to Democrat Bev Perdue by 140,000 votes, or 3 percentage points.
After the election was over, McCrory said, he assumed he would move into the private sector for the rest of his life.
“I was happy to do that. I’d had a good 14-year career as mayor,” he said. “But to my surprise, people were asking me to reconsider another election.”
McCrory said he has raised a “considerable amount of money” over the past year in preparation of announcing his entry into the 2012 governor’s race.
“I wanted to ensure that I have both public and financial support before I officially announce,” he said. “Also, I think the full-time campaign season is far too long and far to expensive… And I think people are tired of politicians’ long campaign cycles.”
For now, McCrory said, he’s traveling across the state to convey the message the state needs better leadership to see the economy rebound.
“We need a leader who actually has a vision of how to proceed in the future and also a strategy to get there,” McCrory said. “I have no idea what the vision is that Gov. (Bev) Perdue has been espousing for the last two years. It’s been very reactionary as opposed to proactive.”
He said the governor has issued vetoes that are detrimental to North Carolina, including on the Energy Jobs Bill, the Voter ID Bill and some regulatory legislation.
Without Perdue’s vetoes, McCrory said, the state could be working to promote energy independence, protect its voting process and encourage business development.
But Perdue has said she’s concerned about the environmental impacts of natural gas exploration in the energy bill, and requiring identifica-tion could unfairly disenfranchise voters.
Still, McCrory said, Perdue has failed to provide the “total reform of state government” that North Carolina needs in the current economy.
McCrory said he believes the state should already be working with South Carolina and Virginia to develop regional efforts in energy exploration.
He also said the state needs “an educational plan for the future” that ties academic goals to job needs in North Carolina.
“I want a direct correlation between what our academic curriculum is to what the employers’ needs are,” McCrory said.
This could include elements of vocational training even in K-12 schools, he said.
In addition, McCrory said the state’s tax structure should encourage residents and businesses to move into North Carolina, not out of it.
He said Perdue has offered tax incentives and cash up front for companies to move here, while taxes have been raised for those that are here already.
“We’re losing investors and entrepreneurs once they become a success, due to our tax code, and it makes no sense,” he said.
Finally, McCrory said, the state needs to have a “strong ethical government” that avoids corruption and politics as usual.
One of the General Assembly’s recent actions placed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions on the May primary ballot.
McCrory said he plans to vote for the amendment and understands that a majority of state residents might turn out to disagree with him.
“I think it’s perfectly viable to put to voters an important issue that won’t go away on either the left or the right,” he said. “The voters will have their way on the issue.”

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