Pat McCrory's campaign is standing behind its television ad featuring a controversial former sheriff, rejecting the notion that it carries racial undertones as a leading black lawmaker suggested.
In a statement, McCrory spokesman Ricky Diaz didn't address the substance of Democratic state Sen. Floyd McKissick's letter to the campaign about former Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay's appearance in a TV ad. But he linked McKissick to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton and asserted it as a "positive ad."
Gay, who is white, blamed race for his 24-point loss in the 2010 Democratic primary to a black SBI agent, who he said wasn't qualified for the job. Gay later switched to the Republican Party, an issue the TV ad highlighted without explaining why the sheriff made the switch.
Diaz did not respond to other questions about the TV commercial and McCrory's thoughts on Gay's remarks.
McKissick said the use of Gay in the advertisement "triggers a racial cue that has no place in this campaign."
Diaz called the concerns "just another desperate attack from the Perdue-Dalton smear machine."
"They are obviously worried because Sheriff Gay was a longtime democrat, actively campaigned for 3 consecutive Democrat governors including Perdue, and even was elected national chairman of the sheriff's association by sheriff's from all over the country… but now he is supporting Pat McCrory for governor because of the leadership he can bring to the state," Diaz said. "Pat McCrory looks forward to continuing to run a positive campaign based on the issues and if elected, will serve as governor for all North Carolinians ..."