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Pat McCrory leads polls in N.C. governor race

Photo: Pat McCrory leads polls in N.C. governor race (Charles Patton)

N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue is already trailing in the polls as the next month’s filing deadline for the state gubernatorial race approaches.

Perdue’s support appears to be slipping in the latest polling data, with some Democrats shifting their allegiance to Republican Pat McCrory, who was narrowly defeated by Perdue four years ago.

Polls released earlier this week show McCrory, the former Charlotte mayor, with 52 percent of the popular vote, Perdue with 41 percent and 7 percent undecided, according to Dustin Ingalls, assistant to the director at the Raleigh-based, left-leaning think tank Public Policy Polling.

“Perdue brought it down to a low single-digit race in the fall,” he said. “But now she’s receded again, and McCrory has gained a double-digit lead.”

The McCrory campaign will focus on improving the economy and plans to criticize Perdue for a lack of leadership, said Brian Nick, a spokesman for McCrory.

Perdue’s campaign will oppose Republican cuts to the state budget and the public education system, said Fiona Conroy, Perdue’s campaign manager.

“Gov. Perdue has been out there fighting for education so that we can assure opportunities for our children,” she said. “Republican leaders have been for cutting those things; it’s been a conflict of visions.”

Perdue might also be challenged by someone from her own party — Rep. Bill Faison, D-Orange, who has criticized Perdue’s policies on job creation.

“Gov. Perdue’s budget would have fired too many state employees,” Faison said. “She has yet to come out with a jobs plan.”

The N.C. House Representative said he doubts Perdue will run for reelection. And while Faison said he has been approached about running himself, he said he has not made a decision yet.

“I’m considering it,” he said.

Ingalls said he doubts Faison would win the general election, as polls show he would lose to McCrory 27 percent to 47 percent in the statewide election.

Only 5 percent of Democrats statewide view Faison favorably, far less than the 25 percent of Democrats who view McCrory favorably, Ingalls said.

Faison would be at a cash disadvantage compared to McCrory and Perdue, each of whom have raised more than $2.5 million in 2011, Conroy said.

North Carolina is considered one of the nation’s swing states, and both campaigns anticipate the presidential race to be a factor in the gubernatorial race as prominent Democrats flood Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention in September.

Candidates from both parties plan to buy advertising across the state as the general election nears.

“You could argue the presidential race is beneficial to either side,” Nick said. “There is no question that Obama’s campaign spent a lot of resources in 2008, which helped to elect Governor Perdue.”

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