Coming completely out of the blue, right at 9 a.m. this morning, was the rumor of an announcement that Gov. Beverly Perdue would not be running for reelection. That rumor was confirmed as fact about an hour or so later.
The scramble among Democrats with state-wide ambitions was palpable, and we could hear through our Twitter feed the scraping of chairs on hardwood, the slamming of doors, the crashing of china all the way up here in Boone. And smell the sweat of ambition.
The downside is pretty obvious: we're two weeks away from candidate filing with the top job in the state suddenly an open seat. Who gets trampled in the stampede?
The upside is also perhaps pretty obvious: with a consistently unpopular governor out of the picture, the fall elections become a referendum on the Republican-dominated General Assembly rather than a referendum on Perdue, a shift in focus that might give Pat McCrory a pause or a little acid reflux, depending on how self-aware he is.
Several strong Democrats will emerge to challenge one another in a primary. Several weak Democrats will also probably jump in. A hot primary is guaranteed, which produces another obvious upside: the passage of North Carolina's notorious, unnecessary, and wholly discriminatory anti-gay Amendment One becomes a lot less certain. (There was even a suggestion on Twitter this morning that Perdue had deliberately out-foxed the Republicans by making a deal to put the amendment on the primary ballot, knowing that there would be a hot race to replace her. Not likely, but cool if true.)
There has to be some sort of Prophet of the Year plaque made up for presentation to Rep. Bill Faison, who's been saying for months that The Guv would step aside rather than run for reelection. Most people poo-pooed that prediction, including Yours Truly, for which I now repent, apologize, and ask for forgiveness.
Conspiracy Theory of the Day: Floating out there in Punditstan is the suggestion that it was the Obama White House that showed Gov. Perdue the door and that her exit from the scene increases Obama's chances of taking North Carolina again. That's clear-thinking, IMO. But the theory goes on to suggest that Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx has been groomed by the same White House to now run for governor, a theory that will have a mercifully short shelf-life, given that candidate filing starts on February 13.