2 N.C. democrats begin campaign for governor

While new poll results show that Gov. Pat McCrory’s approval rating continues to decline, many Democrats are already campaigning for the seat — even though the election isn’t for another three years.

Kenneth Spaulding, a former N.C. House Representative who represented Durham County, and James Protzman, a former Chapel Hill Town Council member, have both joined the race to put a Democrat back in the governor’s seat.

According to Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning polling firm, McCrory’s approval rating dropped from 39 percent to 35 percent in the last month.

Spaulding said he is running because he thought North Carolina was moving forward until recently.

“I have just seen in the last few years and particularly under the McCrory administration, it appears to me that North Carolina is taking a direction that is moving us backwards,” he said.

Spaulding said he is concerned with how the McCrory administration has handled the education system by not appropriating proper funding.

“I feel that we should be striving to be in the top 10 in this country and not in the bottom 10 that we presently exist,” he said. “Mediocrity is unacceptable for a state with all of these resources.”

So far in his campaign, Spaulding said he has traveled across North Carolina to hear people’s concerns.

“I am well aware that I am beginning to campaign early, but it’s going to take long and hard work to be successful in unseating an incumbent,” he said.

Protzman said he hopes that the Democratic campaigns will help hold the current administration more accountable for their actions.

Even though he hasn’t started fundraising yet, he said he encourages people to donate to groups like the N.C. NAACP that are suing the state government over controversial laws.

“I’m not beating the drum for my campaign in particular — it is a bit early for that,” he said.

Protzman said he is also encouraging action through his blog BlueNC.

“I’m working in social media and social organizing to sort of begin the early stages of what I call an uprising,” he said.

Protzman said he believes he will be one of the most progressive candidates.

“So in some ways, I am looking to stir things up,” he said.

Rob Schofield, director of research and policy development for N.C. Policy Watch, said it is unusual to see so much interest this early.

“Campaigns are getting longer and longer,” he said. “I don’t think it can hurt unless some of them has some skeleton in their closet that comes out early.”

But he said many North Carolinians aren’t following the race this early.

“This is not going to get serious for a number of years,” he said. “It’s also not inconceivable to think that in 2015 some person we haven’t even talked about could materialize.”

Schofield said McCrory’s approval rating has a lot to do with why candidates are choosing to campaign so early.

“It’s clear that he’s very vulnerable right now,” he said. “He’s in a very weak position, and this is really the first change that North Carolinians have really gotten to know him.”

Schofield said this is similar to what happened to former Gov. Bev Perdue, who decided after her first term not to run for re-election after her approval rating never recovered.

“He’s got some work to do if he wants to successfully be re-elected.”

state@dailytarheel.com

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