Mike Easley's having a rough year.
In his last year in office, he seems to be spending as much time trying to defend himself from public controversy as keeping the state out of a budget shortfall.
"I've referred to it as the quack of the lame duck," joked Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger.
Easley has been blamed for problems with the state's mental health reform, destroying public e-mails and taking expensive trips overseas. He's also had to defend his wife's $80,000 pay raise.
His achievements, including the state lottery, More at Four and alternative highs chools, may be overshadowed when he leaves office, and controversy gives the state Republican Party ammunition in its bid for the Executive Mansion.
"They say first impressions count, but when you're going out of office, last impressions can last a long time," notes Democratic consultant Gary Pearce. (AP)