The low-interest GOP primary for secretary of state is getting feisty as the candidates trade jabs about their biographies.
Kenn Gardner, a former Wake County commissioner, accused his opponent in the July 17 primary runoff election, Ed Goodwin, of leaving North Carolina "for a job as a government bureaucrat" when he moved away decades ago.
The line is designed to undercut Goodwin's biography as a former agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which raises plenty of interest on the campaign trail thanks to the popular TV show about the federal agency.
Gardner made the comment in a recent interview with The News & Observer, and Goodwin said similar claims have been routine since the two were pitted against one another in a runoff July 17.
Gardner, an architect, believes the distinction is important, and he characterizes himself as a creative business mind up to the job of serving as a liaison between North Carolina business and the General Assembly.
But Goodwin, an Edenton native, said in a recent interview that he actually left the family farm after being drafted into the Vietnam War and then spent a career working for NCIS before returning home. In a recent candidate forum, he said he chased terrorists all over the world, was a special agent and a spy -- anything but a bureaucrat.
"You can risk your life, spend your life serving in the military, but some people just don't appreciate that," Goodwin said. "As a Vietnam vet, I'm used to that. It's just a shame that it's the same after all these years."
Goodwin also said that Gardner was "not born here" and only came "behind a woman" -- Gardner moved to Raleigh about 30 years ago to support wife Betty's pursuit of a PhD in genetics at North Carolina State University, which she completed and has used to teach courses at the university.
--Austin Baird and John Frank, staff writers