Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx has a few to-do items on his list, but becoming North Carolina’s next governor is not one of them.
At least not in the 2012 election cycle.
The talk about Mayor Foxx’s possible gubernatorial bid started when Gov. Beverly Purdue announced she would not seek reelection for a second term in the fall. The governor has not been the most popular politician in the state, but not the worst by far. She was recently lauded for her preparation efforts around Hurricane Irene that battered the state’s coast in late summer 2011.
Purdue’s announcement came as somewhat of a shock to observers. Then the speculation game began.
Mayor Foxx put rumors to rest when he issued a statement saying he would not seek Purdue’s office this fall.
“Given the unusual circumstances and short time, such a run would have required more focus on a statewide campaign than on my young family and many local issues of importance to me and so many Charlotte residents,” the mayor said.
“Therefore, I have decided to forgo a statewide race this election cycle, and will continue my efforts to build a brighter future for our city,” he added.
In short, it means that it costs a lot of money and time to run for statewide office. And anyone that has been remotely paying attention to Charlotte politics knows that the mayor has some big to-do items on his plate. He just won re-election, too. Plus: is North Carolina ready for a Black Governor? It’s not clear if the state is ready for an African American in statewide office. Foxx may have made that calculation.
It is refreshing to see Foxx be honest about the tough personal and professional obstacles he would have faced trying to run for governor.
Mayor Foxx is considered a rising star in the world of politics. After winning the race to become Charlotte’s 54th mayor, Foxx busied himself with the work of the city, attracting the attention of the national Democratic Party. As a result, Charlotte will host the party’s 2012 convention where President Obama will presumably be nominated for a second term.
Sometimes when star politicians become mainstream, the political world wants them to almost immediately seek higher office. It is true that many political posts are stepping stones for greater opportunities. At times, however, it seems disingenuous when a politician spends months or years running for a particular office, they win the race then seemingly focus only on the next level.
The machine occasionally gets absent-minded about the real people — the constituents — who still have needs. They don’t always win when elected officials are focused so heavily on self-promotion.
Some of this thinking may be a result of the path that led President Obama to the White House in 2009. He took office as a U.S. senator from Illinois in January 2005 only to leave office shortly after his successful presidential election in late 2008. Despite anyone’s feelings about his current job performance, his stunning rise to the White House is pretty atypical of most politicians. After his successful first time bid, the political world seemed ready to find the next “Barack Obama.”
Everyone should take a step back and slow down a bit.
Foxx is entitled to pursue higher office whenever he feels the time is right. Personally, his best days are still ahead of him as mayor. He’ll be keeping his eye on the convention prize this summer.