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Pat McCrory Campaigning For A Different Result

Pat McCrory

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory has been here before. Four years ago he lost the closest Governors race in the country to Bev Perdue. Now, the former seven-term mayor of Charlotte is leading in the polls and hoping a second bid for the state house yields a different result. Jeff Tiberii reports on the man trying to become just the third Republican governor North Carolina has elected since 1900.

Jeff Tiberii: Pat McCrory is confident and smiling. He often says 'when' and not 'if' elected governor, as he answers questions about his vision for the state. McCrory comes across as gregarious, occasionally self-deprecating and is quick to point out he has run what he calls a positive campaign. When it comes to criticism he can be contentious to dismissive, as was evident last week when the Republican was confronted by a liberal activist as he walked through a hotel lobby following a campaign stop in Greensboro.

Activist: Do you think you'll be releasing an ethics plan?

Pat McCrory: Listen I've read some of y'alls stuff, thank you very much.

Activist: Your campaign said you would be releasing one after the conventions.

McCrory: Why don't you tell me where your funding comes from?

Activist: We're not running for governor?

McCrory: Well that's obvious.

The 55-year-old McCrory says he has little patience for negativity and what he calls the attack ads of this campaign.

McCrory: I saw an ad against me the other day and I almost decided not to vote for me. I didn't even recognize that person. I think if you run a negative campaign you won't be an effective governor. And that's what happened with our current governor.

When McCrory lost to Bev Perdue in 2008, he says he turned his attention back to the private sector. In early 2009 he says the thought of being back in this race, wasn't on his mind.

McCrory: I assumed my political career was over. Once you lose in politics you're kind of thrown over the edge. I just kind of made the assumption, oh he lost, we'll try someone else new.

McCrory was born in Ohio and moved to Jamestown, a suburb of Greensboro, when he was 9-years-old. He graduated from Ragesdale High School, Catawba University and spent 28 years working for Duke Energy. McCrory loves Wrightsville beach and on the campaign trail tries to get his aides to stop for lunch at The Flame in Sanford, as often as possible. At the age of 39, McCrory became Charlotte's youngest mayor. He spent seven terms in office and helped bring a light rail transportation system to an expanding city.

McCrory: But I'm also proud of creating an environment which was business friendly and created a vision of implementing infrastructure which prepared for growth as opposed to reacted to growth. I don't like to talk about individual projects because I think too many politicians are looking for legacy in projects as opposed to a vision and a strategy. Because frankly, one thing I learned pretty quickly is they forget you pretty quickly anyway.

McCrory says when, or if, elected governor he wants corporate tax rates to be competitive with neighboring states.

McCrory: I think I need to institute a culture of customer service in state government to show that government and business are partners as opposed to adversaries.

McCrory actually agrees with his opponent Walter Dalton when it comes to investing in early childhood education. But in terms of funding for middle and high schools McCrory has called for a reform of education and he says that pouring more money into a broken system will not fix any of the current problems. The former mayor has led in virtually every poll since Dalton secured the Democratic nomination this past spring. But with just three weeks to go in this race, McCrory is careful not to be too optimistic.

McCrory: It's not going to change my strategy and I don't trust the polls. I've lost. I'd rather be in my position than my opponent's position based on the polls but I don't trust them.

History isn't necessarily on McCrory's side either. No former Charlotte Mayor has ever won the gubernatorial race. And, since 1900 North Carolina has elected just two republican governors, the most recent being Jim Martin, who left office in 1993. But if McCrory does have any real worries about the next three weeks and the outcome of this race, he isn't showing them.

Jeff Tiberii is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Jeff joined WUNC in 2011. During his 20 years in public radio, he was Morning Edition Host at WFDD and WUNC’s Greensboro Bureau Chief and later, the Capitol Bureau Chief. Jeff has covered state and federal politics, produced the radio documentary “Right Turn,” launched a podcast, and was named North Carolina Radio Reporter of the Year four times.
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