"We live in highly partisan times, where some people seem more worried about scoring political points than working together to address the real challenges our state faces. And it is clear to me that my race for re-election will only further politicize the fight to adequately fund our schools. A re-election campaign in this already divisive environment will make it more difficult to find any bipartisan solutions," she said in part in a statement.
Perdue has slipped in the polls since she took office in 2009. According to a poll released January 17 by the liberal leaning Public Policy Polling group, Perdue trails former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory 52-41 in a hypothetical rematch of their closely contested 2008 gubernatorial race.
A spokesperson for the conservative leaning Civitas Institute said its recent polling showed Perdue trailing McCrory by 14 points.
Kerry Haynie, Professor of Political Science at Duke University, said news Perdue is not running has major national implications for President Obama.
"Having an incumbent governor of his party seeking re-election would ordinarily be an advantage to the president, but Gov. Perdue has been weakened by campaign finance scandals and might have been a drag on Obama," said Haynie. "My guess is that Perdue came to this decision with the urging of some national Democratic Party insiders."
President Obama issued a statement praising Perdue Thursday afternoon.
"For over 25 years, she has fought for the people of the Tar Heel State - working to transform the state's public schools, improve the health care system, protect and attract jobs for members of the military and their families, and create the jobs of the future. Michelle and I want to congratulate Governor Perdue on her historic tenure, and we wish Bev and her family well in the future," Obama said.
Perdue is the first incumbent North Carolina governor to ever decline to seek a second term since the constitution was changed in 1977 to allow that.
Rob Lockwood, spokesperson for the North Carolina Republican Party, told ABC11 Thursday that the news on Perdue came as no surprise.
"Now is the time to put a Republican in that office," he said. "There's a cloud of ethics hanging around the Governor's mansion - from her aides being indicted, to her plans and policies having failed the state."
He added that the party sees a good chance of success after Republicans took the majority in the General Assembly in elections last year.
McCrory to announce next week
While he has not officially announced his candidacy, Pat McCrory has made no secret of the fact he planned to challenge Perdue this fall. McCrory had been acting like a candidate over the past year and announced last month he was "100 percent committed" to seek the Republican nomination.
"My message has been and will continue to be that we must fix our broken government and broken economy and put our North Carolina resources back to work. That's why next week I plan to announce my intentions to seek the honor of serving as North Carolina's next Governor," McCrory said in a statement released Thursday.
McCrory's campaign said the Republican will unveil his gubernatorial bid with an internet announcement next Tuesday morning, followed by a speech later in the day in Guilford County at the Oriental Shrine Club.
Who will Democrats field?
Speculation immediately turned to who would seek the Democratic nomination for Governor this fall. Among the names circulating: State Rep. Bill Faison, former State Treasurer Richard Moore, Attorney General Roy Cooper, current Lt. Governor Walter Dalton, former state senator Cal Cunningham, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, and possibly former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles - who ran two unsuccessful senate campaigns in North Carolina.
Late Thursday afternoon, Dalton announced he will run.
In a statement, Dalton said, "I believe that our future economy and better jobs depend on our historic commitment to education. After all, education is in North Carolina's DNA -- it's what sets us apart and it's what will determine our future. However, you can't make progress if you are pointed in the wrong direction. Pat McCrory and the Republican leadership are facing the wrong way by cutting teachers, reducing scholarships and abandoning economic development. They are doing lasting damage to our state. I've dedicated my career to improving education at all levels and making North Carolina a great place to do business."
Faison told ABC11 Thursday he would not immediately make an announcement about his intentions - saying that Thursday was all about Governor Perdue who he has tremendous respect for.
"I think she's doing a good thing for the people of this state and for members of our state," he said.
He said he is leaning towards making an announcement and has transferred more money into his campaign account.
Cooper said he will not run.
"I am honored to serve as Attorney General and plan to file for re-election for that office to continue my work keeping people safe and moving North Carolina forward," He said in a statement.
PPP said that, in October, it did a poll testing potential alternative candidates to Perdue and Bowles tied McCrory at 42 percent. It said that even though Bowles lost in a 2004 Senate bid, he outran the Kerry/Edwards ticket by seven points.
But, Bowles told the Charlotte Observer Thursday he will not run.
Former State Treasurer Richard Moore - who lost to Beverly Perdue in the 2008 primary for North Carolina governor - said he's considering whether to run this year.
Other top Democrat bows out
News of Perdue's decision came the same day that Democratic Representative Brad Miller also announced he will not seek reelection this fall.
Miller has fallen victim to new district boundaries drawn by the Republican controlled General Assembly that would pit him against Democrat David Price, who currently represents District 4.
Miller, who has been in office since 2003, represents North Carolina's 13th congressional district - which includes all of Caswell and Person counties, and parts of Alamance, Granville, Guilford, Rockingham and Wake counties.
Perdue been in public service since 80s
Perdue turned 65 January 14.
A native of Virginia, Perdue worked as a teacher and moved in the 1970s to the coastal town of New Bern, where she became director of geriatric services at a hospital before entering politics.
She began her political career in the state House of Representatives in the 1980s before serving five terms in the NC Senate. She took office as North Carolina's 32nd Lt. Governor in 2001 before being elected Governor in 2008.