By Jim Morrill
jmorrill@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Sunday, Mar. 18, 2012

Outgoing Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue sounded like a candidate Saturday night as she spoke to an audience of Mecklenburg County Democrats that included three men running to succeed her.

Perdue spoke to more than 300 Mecklenburg Democrats at a dinner that included tributes to two Charlotte women who each made their mark on the party.

To an audience that included gubernatorial candidates Walter Dalton, the current lieutenant governor; Gary Dunn of Matthews and state Rep. Bill Faison of Chapel Hill, Perdue touted her accomplishments.

“North Carolina is coming out of the recession; you can take it to the bank,” she said.

She said the state had added 100,000 jobs and kept its AAA bond rating since she took office. In January, however, only three states had a higher unemployment rate.

Perdue decried what she called “an outright war on women” as well as the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions that’s on the May 8 ballot.

“Would you ever believe that in 2012 we’d be having a discussion … about women’s reproductive health care choices?” she said.

“Would you ever have thought that North Carolina in 2012 would be focused on something as bad for our economy as the amendment? … I’ll do everything I can to defeat it.”

Perdue and others joined in tributes to the late Judy Harrison Barry and Susan Burgess. Barry was a philanthropist and fundraiser who used her political ties to advance many causes. She died last September. Burgess was a former Charlotte mayor pro tem, school board member and community activist who died in 2010.

Sheriff Chipp Bailey said Barry “made you feel like the most important person in the room when she talked to you.”

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx described Burgess as a mentor. “All of us on the council looked to her for leadership,” he said.

Perdue acknowledged Burgess’ role in landing the Democratic National Convention, an idea she pushed when few believed it possible.

Both women, the governor said, “are women who really redefined the role of women in public life in America.”

Democrats held their dinner at the Charlotte Crown Plaza Hotel. It’s where the North Carolina delegation will stay during the convention.

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