Well, the two empty suits topping the tickets for each of the state’s two main parties — Walter Dalton and Pat McCrory — faced off in Wilmington on Saturday.
The mainstream media was shocked — SHOCKED — that Dalton came out swinging at McCrory. ANYONE who has any kind of campaign experience KNOWS that’s what you do when you know you’re down and you need to make up ground in the polls.
Dalton seems to have found McCrory’s Achilles Heel, and is starting to hammer away at it:
In the first question in the campaign’s first debate, the lieutenant governor took aim at McCrory’s support for a downtown arena that many opposed and a budget that boosted his mayoral salary amid the financial crisis. “That is not leading by example,” Dalton said, noting that he voluntarily took a furlough amid state budget cuts.
McCrory offered no response in the debate or a subsequent interview about the pay hike, but he had a witty retort about the arena project. “We’ve done such a good job the Democratic Party is coming to the city,” McCrory said, invoking laughter from crowd. “The convention is coming to the arena he criticized.”
The race is getting early national attention, with Democratic and Republican groups airing more than $2 million so far in TV advertising, questioning McCrory’s ethics and tying Dalton to the unpopular and controversial incumbent governor.
Asked after the debate about his aggressive approach, Dalton said, “I don’t think people know Pat McCrory right now. And I think there has been some change in Pat McCrory over time.”
Changing your mind is not so bad — as long as it is a genuine change. Ronald Reagan — as governor of California — supported tax increases, and took legislative stands favoring abortion AND gay rights. Fortunately, for the country, his presidential tenure featured much more sound policy stands. Perhaps McCrory HAS HAD a come-to-Jesus moment like Reagan did. Ol’ Pat needs to convince voters he is a committed, principled conservative who will stand up to legislative leaders — Republican and Democrat — when they go on spending and regulatory binges.
Dalton had a big mind-change this year. After he started his primary campaign for governor, Dalton came out against the marriage amendment to the state constitution. Never mind that he co-sponsored VERY similar legislation in 2006.