Dalton battles on in his campaign for governor
BY CASH MICHAELS OF THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
The polls have not been kind to Walter Dalton, showing North Carolina’s lieutenant governor generally trailing his Republican opponent, former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, by as many as 15 points (52-37 percent) in the latest Elon University poll Monday in the race for governor.
As in 2008, when the voter coattails of a popular Democratic presidential candidate named Barack Obama helped Beverly Perdue outpoint McCrory for the gubernatorial prize, Walter Dalton may need those coattails again, even though the president is in a deadheat race currently in North Carolina against Republican Mitt Romney.
Time will tell.
But as the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte (which Dalton spoke at) comes to a close, the lieutenant governor continues to travel across the state, holding several town hall meetings in communities large and small, answering questions about the issues.
And believing that when the smoke clears after the November 6th elections, Walter Dalton will be the one elected to succeed Gov. Perdue.
“[I’m] the type of leader North Carolinians want, somebody who will go out and talk to them,” Dalton, a former state senator, told The Carolinian prior to the convention, adding that as a leader, he’s also willing, “… to learn from the people of North Carolina.”
In an effort to stir the political pot, Dalton issued a proposed state government ethics plan that he says he and his administration would follow if elected.
“Obviously we’ve seen several scandals over the years from both parties,” Dalton told The Carolinian. “We need to restore public trust and confidence in state government.”
Thus far the governor’s race has been low-key.
While McCrory has had ads on TV for weeks, Dalton, due to slow fundraising, is only now unveiling his on-the-air campaign. Per the last campaign finance reports from July, while McCrory had over $4 million in the bank, Dalton had under $715,000 on hand. He’ll desperately need any outside money he can get from various Democratic interest groups.
The suddenness with which Gov. Perdue announced that she would not be running for governor in January left capable Democrats flatfooted to vie in the primaries, let alone have time to raise adequate sums of money.
McCrory, on the other hand, has had the past four years to build his war chest for a second run after being edged by Perdue in 2008. And given his Republican connections, money is no object for the party that seeks to dominate North Carolina state government for the next ten years.
Oddly enough, The State Employees Association of North Carolina Political Action Committee decided not to endorse either Dalton or McCrory, saying that neither gubernatorial candidate spoke to their issues.
Dalton says despite McCrory’s high-profile and substantial lead in the polls, he can’t be trusted to protect North Carolina’s middle-class from new taxes on consumption and services. That would push up the state’s sales tax and local property taxes, making life more difficult for small businesses in the state.
On education, Dalton says he’s worked hard to “be a champion of education,” chairing an education committee in the state Senate for four years, advocating for community colleges; laid the foundation for the 70 early college high schools across the state (and gaining praise from the New York Times for helping to stem the state’s drop-out rate as a result).
Lt. Gov. Dalton charges that McCrory has supported the $1 billion in “drastic cuts” the Republican-led NC General Assembly made to the state’s education budget last year, and does not support the mission of the community college system.
Dalton says McCrory, who was elected mayor of Charlotte in 1995, and went on to serve seven terms, still has to explain why he won’t reveal his tax returns for the past few years (Dalton has turned over his), or if he is indeed an unregistered lobbyist who works for a large law firm with corporate clientele, but is not an attorney.
According to the McCrory campaign website, the Republican candidate, if elected governor, wants to, “ modernize the tax code to spur job creation and productivity; reform education to create a workforce for the future; make government more responsive to business, and “fix our broken economy with a new vision and leadership.’”
McCrory is also a proponent for school choice, he says.
“I have a passion for education,” he’s quoted as saying on his website. ”We will never be satisfied until we transform our public schools into centers of excellence. We cannot achieve excellence by simply spending more money on a broken system; we must make major reforms. Our primary goal must be to empower students to grasp control of their adult lives by providing them the necessary skill set to get a job
McCrory’s Democratic opponent says he, not the former Charlotte mayor, has the record, and the leadership, to make things happen in North Carolina.
“In think the people want to know what their leader is going to do. I think they want their leader to engage with them as I’ve done,” Lt. Gov. Dalton says.