This new argument has to do with which state has or is going to have the first female governor.
That argument ought to stop right now. North Carolina has its first woman governor, and South Carolina, even if it elects Nikki Haley next month, will be second to us again.
But wait a minute, the South Carolinians say. Bev Perdue was born and raised in Virginia. North Carolina may have elected her, but if you are talking about a woman governor born and bred in the state, South Carolina will beat North Carolina if, as expected, Hailey wins next month.
And, the South Carolinians continue, Hailey will be the first woman governor of Asian heritage. Although she was born in South Carolina, her parents came from India. No way North Carolina can top that.
Or, so they say.
But wait a minute.
What about Alex Sink, the North Carolina native who is running for governor in Florida this fall. Born in Mount Airy, educated at Wake Forest, and a part of the NCNB/Bank of America management team that sent her to Florida about 25 years ago, she is proud to claim her North Carolina roots.
One more thing, South Carolina: The Florida governor takes office on “the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January.” It is a few days before “on the first Wednesday following the second Tuesday in January” when the South Carolina governor takes office. So if both Hailey and Sink are elected, Sink will be the first to serve. That way North Carolina will have beat South Carolina in electing a woman governor and in having one of its native daughters be the first to serve as a state governor.
Well, say the South Carolinians, their state will still beat us by having a South Carolina-born woman of Asian-American heritage serve as a governor.
Again, not if Sink wins in Florida.
Her ancestor (reportedly her great grandfather) was one of America’s most famous Asian immigrants, Chang Bunker. Chang and his Siamese twin brother Eng settled in Surry County after a long career in show business that took them all over the world. Chang and Eng were born in Siam (now Thailand) to parents of Chinese heritage. They married sisters, and both couples had large families. More than 1500 people, including Sink, are their descendants. Many of them still live near Mount Airy.
North Carolina wins all these arguments with South Carolina if Alex Sink wins.
Right now a victory for her is a big “if.” One recent poll shows the Democrat Sink trailing her Republican opponent by about five or six percentage points. Another poll has it a little closer—just two points behind. She has to buck a Republican trend that is as strong in Florida as it is here in North Carolina. She has been closer in other recent polls—even ahead in some.
Nobody is counting her out. Lots of North Carolinians of all political persuasions will be pulling for her.
But if she loses, what do we say to those South Carolinians who want to claim all these firsts?
We’ll tell them that no matter what else they take from us, they will always have to admit that we elected a woman governor before they did and…
They can never take away our claim to Chang and Eng.
D.G. Martin hosts UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch, which airs Fridays at 9:30pm and Sundays at 5pm. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch/