2008 Firsts for Women from WowOwow

Beverly Perdue, North Carolina governor, lieutenant governor
Gerry Broome/AP

Beverly Perdue, First Female Governor of North Carolina

January 14, 2010
by Shannon Firth
In November 2008, Beverly Perdue was elected the first female governor of North Carolina proving that, in her own words, she was "gutsy enough to make it all happen.”

How She Got There

Beverly Perdue was born in Grundy, Virginia, in 1947. Perdue graduated from the University of Kentucky with a history degree and earned a master’s in education and a doctorate in education administration from the University of Florida. She and her first husband later moved to New Bern, North Carolina, where Perdue’s brother, Rick Moore, a doctor with political ambitions, lived. Around the time of her brother’s death, Perdue became very interested in politics herself and worked at the Neuse River Council of Governments in New Bern.
In spite of initial resistance from the Democratic establishment in North Carolina, Perdue joined the House of Representatives in 1986. Lonnie Pridgen, a local politician, told The News & Observer, “At that particular time, women had just not run for positions like that.” Pridgen admitted that he tried to dissuade Perdue, but said she persisted and won him over.

After serving two terms in the House, Perdue was elected to the state Senate. Her husband left their family in 1993, and Perdue wondered, “If I felt alone, how did somebody without a job and a career and money do it?” As a result, she’s always felt compassion for single parents.

Perdue pressed on in her career and became the state’s lieutenant governor in 2000.

What She Did

According to Perdue’s official Web site, during her nearly 25 years in government, she has helped to raise teachers' salaries, contributed to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, saved the state’s military bases from closure and developed the Green Business Fund, a program devoted to alternative fuels and green building projects. She also instituted a more affordable prescription drug plan for seniors.

During her campaign for governor, she vowed to make health care, educational reform and job creation the top priorities of her administration.

On November 4, 2008, Beverly Perdue was elected the first female governor of North Carolina, a state that did not even "officially pass the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote until 1970." She is the 30th woman in the United States to fill such a role.

Prior to her win, supporters of her opponent, Republican Pat McCrory, launched an ad campaign casting Perdue as an insider who would maintain the status quo. According to The News & Observer, Perdue retorted, "Do you think I'm part of the status quo? I've been the odd woman out all my life."

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