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Citizen-Times - McCrory Attempts to Link Perdue With "Power Elite'

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Location: Asheville, NC

Citizen-Times - McCrory Attempts to Link Perdue With "Power Elite'

Jordan Schrader

Gubernatorial candidate Bev Perdue's Republican opponent sought in a debate Tuesday to tie her to the Easley administration and the state's leadership, which he blamed for a failed mental health system and secrecy in government.

"There are five or six people who've been running this state," including Perdue, Republican Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory said after the debate at WTVD-TV in Durham. "There's a power elite that's been running this state, and the lieutenant governor's been a part of that."

As lieutenant governor, Perdue has little constitutional power and doesn't run on the ticket with the governor.

But she walks a tightrope by claiming credit for accomplishments -- like lowering teen smoking rates and persuading the federal government not to close North Carolina military bases -- while distancing herself from Gov. Mike Easley to some degree.

"I was not in the last eight years part of anybody's inner, elite circle," Perdue said after the debate. "I was a free agent working for the people of North Carolina." She also praised Easley, saying he's helped put the state on "a pathway for prosperity."

In the debate, candidates sparred over drilling off the coast of North Carolina -- McCrory supports it, while Perdue has opposed it but now says it needs more study -- and mandates for health insurers to cover certain procedures.

Candidates agreed the mental health system isn't working. The state has tried over five years to decentralize and privatize services but people have been left without care by the closing of local providers and turned away by packed psychiatric hospitals.

Perdue said the state needs to make sure there are services in communities.
"The private sector just can't serve all of the needs in rural North Carolina," she said.

McCrory called Perdue part of "an administration that has totally destroyed the mental health system in North Carolina."

Amid a shortage of mental health beds, he said the state is wrong to close a hospital in Raleigh as it opens a new one. He described people waiting days in an emergency room for a spot in a hospital.

McCrory said the administration has been too secretive. He said he would travel the state as governor, including to Western North Carolina.

Perdue promised to make the workings of state government easily searchable on the Internet, pledging to run "the most transparent and open administration in the history of this state."

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