Governor Choices: Dalton, McCrory
What with Gov. Beverly Perdue’s decision not to run and a sex scandal soiling their state headquarters, North Carolina Democrats face a challenging election year.
Still, a lot can change between now and November, and Democratic voters in the May 8 primary will want to be sure they’re picking the most promising man among the three seeking a chance to go up against all-but-certain Republican nominee Pat McCrory in the fall.
In our opinion, Walter Dalton is that candidate.
Dalton, 62, has served as lieutenant governor since 2008. Before that, he represented Cleveland and Rutherford counties for six terms in the state Senate. He co-chaired the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. He was several times ranked among the most effective Senate members.
Strong Educational Record
At this time when educational issues loom so large at both state and local levels, Dalton’s record in that area is well worth noting. He took a leadership role in sponsoring the legislation creating North Carolina’s early college system. He also helped bring business and educational leaders together by his role in the creation of an entity that was more successful than its rather unwieldy title would suggest: the “Joining Our Businesses and Schools Commission.”
Dalton also has another big plus in our book: He has been an outspoken supporter of the principle of open government — which is a far-from-universal trait in Raleigh circles.
Among those who hurried to file for the Democratic nomination after Perdue’s surprise withdrawal from the race, Dalton’s most significant primary opponent is former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, who also served (without much distinction, in the eyes of many) as the state superintendent of public instruction.
A third candidate, state Rep. Bill Faison of Orange County, was a standout in the recent Democratic debates, but his potential gubernatorial influence with former legislative colleagues is said to be in serious doubt. The other three Democratic candidates, Gary M. Dunn, Gardenia M. Henley and Bruce Blackmon, are relative nonentities.
McCrory Is Clear Choice
On the Republican side, the obvious choice is McCrory, 55, who stands head and shoulders above his five opponents in terms of name recognition and career accomplishments. He has a big head start on whoever gets the Democratic nomination, and he can be counted on to play the current disarray in the enemy camp to maximum advantage.
As mayor of Charlotte, McCrory was known as a strong leader who sought to cultivate bipartisan cooperation in important areas such as mass transit. His image through much of his mayorship was that of a moderate and (in the old, noncontaminated sense of the word) a progressive.
In recent months, McCrory has raised more than a few red flags while moving toward the right and sometimes seeming to embrace the rhetoric of the extreme fringe he once avoided. During the primary, unfortunately, such pandering may be unavoidable in the current atmosphere at the state level as well as nationally.
Here’s hoping that McCrory will move back toward the center once he has the nomination cinched — and that we’ll see a more sensible and less strident debate on the issues as the fall campaign develops.
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