In a race marked by last-minute political revelations, Democratic incumbent State Auditor Beth Wood on Tuesday defeated Republican challenger Debra Goldman, a member of the Wake County school board.
With all the state’s counties reporting, Wood had 53.77 percent of the vote compared with 46.23 percent for Goldman. Wood, 58, was vying for her second four-year term as the state’s top financial watchdog.
“The people saw I’ve done a good job,” Wood said Tuesday night. “There was no reason to switch.”
Election returns show that a third Republican Wake school board member, John Tedesco, lost his bid Tuesday to become state schools superintendent.
For much of the contest, the debate had been over whether Wood, a certified public accountant, was more qualified than Goldman, who is not a CPA.
But the campaign was rocked during the past two weeks by a recently leaked copy of a 2010 Cary police report involving Goldman, 49.
In the police narrative, Goldman named fellow school board member Chris Malone as a suspect in a 2010 burglary in which she reported that $130,000 in jewelry, cash and coins had been stolen. Goldman told police she kept $20,000 in cash because she was worried about getting money out of the bank after a terrorist attack, and that she kept an estimated $100,000 in jewelry in a “ratty pink backpack.”
The report also shows that Malone told police he had a “very heated” physical relationship with Goldman, while she told investigators she had repeatedly rebuffed his romantic overtures. Cary police cleared Malone and closed the case in 2010, but recently reopened the investigation.
Malone, who has said he won’t discuss the police report until after the election, appeared to narrowly win the state House 35 race Tuesday.
If his win becomes official, he’ll need to resign from the school board, and the board’s Democratic majority will fill the vacancy.
Police reports also showed that Goldman and her family had contacted Cary police for assistance 36 times since January 2010.
Amid the above reports, the state Republican Party officially still backed Goldman, but quietly dropped her from campaign events with other statewide candidates. In the last gubernatorial debate, Republican nominee Pat McCrory, who won Tuesday, avoided a direct endorsement of Goldman and took the unusual step of praising Wood, saying, “she’s done a good job.”
“She lost all that cash?” said Jonathan Gould, 33, a native of Great Britain who voted all Republican Tuesday except for Goldman. “That’s not auditor material in my mind.”
Efforts to reach Goldman were unsuccessful Tuesday.
“I had a lot of people tell me they were going to vote for me anyway, because the difference in our experience is so stark,” Wood said. “What came out about Goldman the past few weeks only made it that much clearer.”
Goldman attempted a last-minute reboot of her campaign Monday by holding a news conference in which she answered questions about the police report while also revisiting previously reported issues, including Wood’s failure to pay property taxes promptly twice since 2008.
“I’m not a caricature that some members of the press have tried to color me as,” Goldman said Monday.
Wood has campaigned on the theme that only she, not Goldman, was qualified to be auditor.
Wood has produced several controversial reports this year, including one that claimed top law enforcement officials abused state vehicle privileges and tried to thwart the subsequent investigation. Alcohol and Law Enforcement officials have pushed back with legal challenges, and the dispute continues.
Goldman argued that it was more important that the auditor be a business manager and an investigator.
Goldman, who was elected to the school board in 2009, has said she won’t resign her seat if she loses the auditor’s race. She’d be up for re-election in her Cary district in 2013.
Staff writers Mandy Locke, Thomas Goldsmith and Austin Baird contributed to this report.