GOP Runoff For Secretary Of State

Jul 13, 2012

Early voting ends Saturday in North Carolina's primary run-off elections. In races in which no candidate received more than 40% of the vote in the May 8th primary, the top 2 vote-getters face off on Tuesday for their party's nomination. In addition to several U.S. House and General Assembly seats, there are run-offs for 5 statewide offices. Isaac-Davy Aronson has this look at the two candidates for the Republican nomination for Secretary of State.

Isaac-Davy Aronson: The Secretary of State's office has been called North Carolina's filing cabinet, processing and maintaining forms and records, particularly for business. Both Republican candidates for the job say the Secretary of State should be more of a business diplomat. Former Wake County Commissioner Kenn Gardner says he would work to persuade companies to locate in North Carolina, and to improve the business climate here.

Kenn Gardner: We need to reduce some of the regulations, and we've talked about also simplifying the forms, and then reduce some taxes and fees that are keeping some of the new businesses from developing in our state - it's sort of a hindrance at this point.

Gardner's opponent, chair of the Chowan County Board of Commissioners Ed Goodwin, says he too would work to attract business. But he offers few specifics, saying he's not sure what's holding North Carolina back.

Ed Goodwin: Some of that competitive edge, the other states may incentivize the businesses more than we are able to do with taxpayers' money, or more than we want to do. But we still have to adjust to level that playing field and give us that edge. Somebody has to study that and find out what is going on.

The candidates say it's experience that separates them. Gardner seeks to contrast his decades as a Raleigh architect with Goodwin's decades working around the world for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Kenn Gardner: I came to this state 30 years ago to be involved in business, and he left the state 30 years ago to be involved in government. And so it's sort of a contrast between a businessman versus a bureaucrat.

Goodwin refutes this, and notes he was drafted into Vietnam at 19.

Ed Goodwin: Anybody that served in the military during that period of time was ridiculed and despised. I thought those days were behind me. And then he goes around and professes to be a Christian and a deacon in his local Baptist church in Raleigh. You know, I really question that.

Goodwin also says Gardner is costing the state extra money by insisting on a runoff, after coming in second in the primary, 36 to 30 percent.

The winner will face Democratic Secretary of State Elaine Marshall in November.