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On Second Thought, Maybe N.C. Was a Mistake

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images
President Barack Obama spoke at the University of North Carolina last week. But the state might not be the best place for the Democratic National Convention, Stuart Rothenberg writes.

If national Democratic strategists chose Charlotte, N.C., for the party’s national convention because they liked the facilities, the hotel accommodations or the weather in early September, then I guess I can’t yet quibble with the choice.

But if David Axelrod and the president’s other political advisers picked the Tar Heel State to make some broader political point, then they goofed.

Simply put: North Carolina looks like a mess for Democrats.

The state’s Democratic governor, Beverly Perdue, is so unpopular — her job approval has been fluctuating from 30 percent to 40 percent for months — that she wisely decided not to seek re-election this year. A recent survey by Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh-based Democratic polling firm, showed only 60 percent of Democrats approve of the job the governor is doing.

A handful of Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination, including former Rep. Bob Etheridge and the state’s sitting lieutenant governor, Walter Dalton, but virtually everyone expects former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory (R), who lost to Perdue narrowly four years ago, to win the state’s top office in November.

The last Republican to win the governorship was Jim Martin, in 1988, and only two Republicans, Martin and Jim Holshouser, have been elected governor since Reconstruction.

Democrats will lose three or four Congressional seats in November, victims of Republican redistricting made possible by the national GOP wave of 2010, which gave both chambers of the state Legislature to Republicans. (In an ironic twist, the governor of North Carolina had no role in the redistricting process.)

But it gets worse.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Carolina’s preliminary unemployment rate for March stood at 9.7 percent, lower than only three states (California, Rhode Island and Nevada) and the District of Columbia. Apparently, the Obama administration’s jobs recovery has not shifted into high gear in the Tar Heel State.

Of course, if the state’s economy is a mess, it’s still in better shape than the North Carolina Democratic Party.

Two weeks ago, the state party’s executive director, Jay Parmley, resigned amid accusations of sexual harassment. North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman David Parker, who accepted Parmley’s resignation but seemed to defend him, has also come under fire. Some Democratic activists are now demanding his resignation.

Finally, the president will accept his party’s nomination — and presumably beat up on corporate America and the wealthy — at Bank of America Stadium (after a couple of days at Time Warner Cable Arena). Expect the press to point out the irony, which could put President Barack Obama’s campaign on the defensive more than a few times.

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