Looking ahead to 2016, Charles Meeker completes 'listening tour'

03/18/2014 3:04 PM

02/15/2015 10:42 AM

In preparation for a potential gubernatorial bid in 2016, former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker recently completed a “listening tour” that took him to four communities in eastern North Carolina.

“I’m getting better informed on issues outside Raleigh, going to some midsize cities and rural communities nearby,” said Meeker, a Democrat, in an interview Tuesday.

Meeker, who served as mayor from 2001 to 2011, visited Morehead City, Kinston, Wilson and Greenville. The informal tour began in December. He has not formed a political committee and is paying for it himself.

“These areas of the state and people have been really hurt” by the legislature’s decisions not to expand Medicaid, extend (federal) unemployment benefits and better fund education, he said.

“On the positive side,” he continued, “the agricultural economy is strong and we have a remarkably diverse and productive group of farmers.”

Meeker does not have plans to visit other parts of the state at this point. But he is scheduled to give a few speeches in coming weeks, including a discussion at the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce about the need for an independent redistricting board to prevent gerrymandering.

Meeker disclosed his interest in running for governor in September, a move now overshadowed by Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper’s more vocal bid to challenge Gov. Pat McCrory in 2016. Another Democratic candidate making a bid is Ken Spaulding, a former state representative and Durham attorney.

The former mayor, who is an attorney at the Parker Poe law firm in Raleigh, said he expects to make a decision about running a year from now. His choice will depend on the electoral landscape. “A year is a long time and it’s hard to know what things are going to look like,” he said.

Asked how he would contrast against a Cooper candidacy, Meeker said he would promote less partisan-charged issues “and focus on some ideas that would move the whole state forward,” such as agriculture and solar energy.

“People just need to be thinking about something less partisan and (not) these battles we keep having in Raleigh,” he said.

Under the Dome logo

Under the Dome

Under the Dome is your inside source on North Carolina politics and government and has been a regular feature in The N&O since 1934. Check here for the latest on state and federal government, political advocacy and upcoming elections. This blog is maintained by the N&O politics staff.

Join the Discussion

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service