RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (AP) — Democrat Walter Dalton is running out of time to dismantle Republican Pat McCrory’s front-runner status on the eve of early voting in the North Carolina governor’s race.
McCrory, the former mayor of Charlotte, has stuck to his campaign persona as an outsider to state government who will work to fix what he calls a broken government and broken economy. It’s similar to the platform McCrory, who has served as lieutenant governor for the past four years, ran on when he lost to Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue in 2008.
McCrory’s campaign-fundraising advantage has allowed him to appear on television more regularly than Dalton. With the 2½-week, one-stop voting period starting Thursday, McCrory says both campaigns are now focusing on making sure voters get to the ballot box.
“Right now, each side’s got to get out the vote,” McCrory told reporters Tuesday evening.
Dalton acknowledged that he has a gap to breach with McCrory but said he believes there is still time to bring voters to his camp. He said people will choose him once they hear of his detailed ideas to generate jobs and oppose Republican policies in the Legislature that he said have harmed public education and women’s health care choices.
Dalton didn’t enter the gubernatorial race until January, when Perdue announced she wouldn’t seek re-election. He then participated in a competitive primary. McCrory had no significant primary opponents.
McCrory’s “name recognition is up, he ran last time and he’s probably spent $20 million (in) the two election cycles,” Dalton told reporters earlier this week. “That is a high hurdle to overcome, but hopefully good policies will overcome it.”
Dalton also sought to benefit from three televised debates with McCrory during the month of October. The Associated Press didn’t cover the second debate Tuesday evening in Research Triangle Park because the sponsor didn’t allow text reporters or still photographers inside the studio while the debate was taking place. The AP determined the restrictions violate basic demands of newsgathering.
Dalton, a former Rutherford County state senator, said he hopes voters will be skeptical of McCrory because he’s failed to release his tax returns — which isn’t required of candidates — and to disclose specific details about his work at a Charlotte law firm.
Dalton also accuses McCrory of preparing to raise taxes on working-class families and older adults because he wants to reduce individual and corporate income-tax rates as part of a tax overhaul.
“The question is, is he going to represent special interests, and I think the answer is yes,” Dalton said. McCrory said that’s not true and any tax plan he supports wouldn’t immediately increase the state’s share of revenue.
McCrory said his 14-year-old record as mayor shows that he can work together with Democrats and independents, as well as Republicans. Libertarian Barbara Howe is also running for governor.
“Our message of positive, constructive and visionary leadership is resonating, and I’m very, very pleased with our campaign,” McCrory said.
The Republican Governors Association and a Democratic-leaning group have also tried to inject themselves in the gubernatorial race by spending money on TV ads to oppose Dalton and McCrory, respectively.
Dalton appeared to reach out to more state employees and teachers by announcing earlier Tuesday he would seek to provide up to four weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave for teachers and state employees if elected. His proposal is part of the “Fair Deal for Working Families,” a plan he is expected to announce Wednesday in Durham. The North Carolina Association of Educators, the state’s leading teachers’ lobbying group, has endorsed Dalton.
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