From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli, NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro
Mike Easley, two-term North Carolina governor in his final year, will endorse Hillary Clinton at a rally in Raleigh tomorrow, according to sources in the governor's office and sources close to the Clinton campaign.
Easley is a superdelegate, bringing Clinton's superdelegate lead to 265-242 (288 supers are uncommitted).
PLEDGED: Obama 1,491-1,334
OVERALL: Obama 1,733-1,599
*** UPDATE *** NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann adds the following for context on Easley's endorsement:
Gov. Easley will be the second NC superdelegate to go for Clinton. Easley was long suspected of being in the Clinton camp, but many believed he would stay neutral, as -- like many of the state's public officials -- he might risk alienating the state's large black population.
Suspicions of his allegiance were all but confirmed earlier this month when Easley publicly criticized Barack Obama for declining CBS's invitation to debate in North Carolina.
Local experts often draw parallels between Easley's early career, which began with a failed run at federal office and a stint as attorney general, and President Bill Clinton's. Easley was heavily recruited as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, and it's widely believed that he could have been a formidable challenger to Elizabeth Dole. But Easley declined to run, famously saying that he wouldn't like a job that entailed "sitting in meetings" all day.
Although he enjoys fairly strong support in the state, Easley tends not to be described as a hard worker. Some politicos in the state quipped that he would stay on the sidelines because following through with an endorsement would be too much work for the laid-back legislator.
He was recently on the hotseat for violations of public records transparency by his press office, which reportedly requested that some e-mail traffic in and out of the governor's office be deleted. The man Easley appointed to oversee the resulting campaign for reform offered the capital press corps a good laugh when he was quoted as admitting that he didn't know how to "cut on a computer."