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Mark Johnson of the Charlotte Observer is one of the best political reporters I know, but I don’t think his story about Zach Ambrose was quite fair about the campaign that Perdue’s transition chief ran.

Johnson wrote:

Ambrose comes into the job with some obvious challenges….(S)ome observers will be watching to see if he’s got better game than the campaign he ran for Perdue this year, which was widely criticized among Democrats as careening from one message to another. Former Gov. Jim Hunt, a Perdue mentor, tried to reassure supporters in mid-October.

“She will be a better governor,” Hunt said, “than people have seen in this campaign.”

Mark quoted me on the campaign:

“An awful lot of folks predicted she was going to lose,” said longtime Democratic consultant Gary Pearce. “There was a lot of criticism of the messaging in the campaign. When you’re not inside a campaign, you can’t see their polls and their research, so you don’t know.”

There’s another point to be made: Ambrose ran a campaign that won. A campaign that, in some ways, was stronger than the candidate, who struggled in debates and some of her public appearances.

Most of all, at the end of both the primary and general-election campaigns, Ambrose made big decisions that turned out right.

In the primary, Perdue and Ambrose decided to go totally positive. It was low-risk: the negatives weren’t working and she was far ahead. But the move put the game out of reach for Richard Moore.

Late in the fall, with many Democrats openly worrying, the campaign ran tough negative ads against Pat McCrory – on “Yankee garbage” and illegal immigration. The ads targeted conservative Democrats in the east, and they gave Perdue just enough push to win.

The kind of clear vision and steely decision-making is invaluable in a campaign – and the governor’s office.

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