Prof, 6 others run for N.C. governor

Although students may be more focused on the presidential election, the state race for governor is also picking up steam-and one Duke professor has his eyes on the prize.

Michael Munger, professor of political science and economics, is the only libertarian candidate for governor in a field of seven Democrats and Republicans.

Munger said he was encouraged to run because he was upset by North Carolina laws that make it difficult for third-party candidates to get on the ballot.

"We are one of the most restrictive states in the country, and that is really a nonpartisan issue," he said. "I was surprised that not that many people knew about it."

Munger said corruption in the state legislature-particularly the controversy surrounding former House speaker Jim Black, a Democrat now serving time for corruption-will be the biggest issue in the election, followed by public education.

"There are counties in North Carolina where parents follow the school bus to school to make sure it won't break down," he added.

Munger said he will not begin actively campaigning until the summer and his primary objective was only to gain enough signatures to get on the ballot.

Some students said they were unaware of Munger's platform. "Munger is obviously a smart guy," junior Jon Martin said. "I just think it's kind of cool that he is running."

Others said Munger's campaign would allow him to promote his ideas as a third-party candidate even if not elected to the position.

"I wouldn't expect him to have that big of an impact, but it just depends on how effective he is at getting his name out there," sophomore Zach Lloyd said.

Incumbent Gov. Mike Easley, a Democrat, is unable to run again because of term limits. Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue and State Treasurer Richard Moore are the Democratic frontrunners in the race. Perdue's campaign has criticized Moore as being an outsider with stronger ties to business than to North Carolina, while touting Perdue's experience in education.

"[Perdue] is definitely 'the candidate of Main Street,' while [Moore] has some very strong ties to Wall Street," said David Kochman, Perdue's deputy campaign manager. "Her experience as a teacher and administrator gives her the best plan for our state."

Moore's campaign emphasized his successful management approach as state treasurer. "[Moore] has a track record of reforming the agencies that he has run to stretch state dollars so we make the investments we need," said Eric Fletcher, a spokesperson for Moore's campaign.

Republican Sen. Fred Smith is a frontrunner in a crowded field of Republican candidates.

"I think [North Carolinians] are ready for a change in management," said Smith Chief of Staff Jonathan Hill. "Look at the corruption we have had in the state government, from the speaker of the House taking money in a bathroom stall to [Democratic Rep. Thomas] Wright under investigation."

Former State Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr is another prominent Republican candidate in the election. Dave Woolf, Orr's campaign manager, said Munger and Orr have similar stances on the limited role of government.

Republican Bill Graham is the only candidate besides Munger who lacks political experience.

"Just about everyone in the race is a career politician who has been in Raleigh," said Marty Ryall, his campaign manager. "Bill Graham has been out in the business world, he is a fresh face who brings new solutions to the problems we face."

A fourth major Republican candidate, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, entered the race Tuesday.


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