Erskine Bowles won't run for governor

Fmr. UNC System President Erskine Bowles (Photo courtesy UNC system schools)

February 2, 2012 2:48:10 PM PST
The man who polls show may be the best chance for the Democratic Party to hold on to the North Carolina governorship said Thursday he won't run for the job.

Bowles released a statement Thursday that he doesn't think anyone can question his love for North Carolina but there are many ways to make a difference in the state.

Fellow Democrats had been trying to twist Erskine Bowles' arm ever since Governor Beverly Perdue announced she wouldn't run for a second term last week.

Bowles has a long history in politics - serving as chief of staff in Bill Clinton's White House. He also led the prestigious University of North Carolina system and headed a bipartisan commission that recommended tough choices to reduce the U.S. deficit.

While Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and state Rep. Bill Faison have said they'll contest the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Pat McCrory, a new poll released last week by the left-leaning Public Polling Group showed the strongest Democratic candidate would be Bowles, who trailed McCrory only 44-42 in a hypothetical contest.

Other Democratic Party notables - three current or former congressmen and a previous state treasurer among them - have been waiting for Bowles to decide if he's run before deciding if they'll throw their hats into a race that could have implications for a presidential swing state that is hosting the Democratic convention.

Bowles ran for the U.S. Senate in both 2002 and 2004, winning the Democratic nomination but losing in the general election - once to Elizabeth Dole and the other time to Richard Burr.

"There are many ways to add to the community woodpile," Bowles said on the night of his 2004 loss. "Elective office will not be my route, but that does not mean you've seen the last of Erskine Bowles."

He wasn't the best campaigner, often struggling to translate his deep understanding of national government to everyday people. Referring to his past failures for elected office, Bowles once quipped: "I have empirical data that I was a terrible politician."

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