There was another debate last night. Democrat Walter Dalton and Republican Pat McCrory are vying to be the next Governor of North Carolina. They met in the first of three scheduled Gubernatorial forums and answered questions about a wide range of topics.
In front of about 50 people the major party candidates traded statistics, barbs and rhetoric for nearly an hour. Lt. Gov Walter Dalton and former seven-term Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory fielded questions about education, taxes and the economy, among other things. Both candidates were asked about their plans for economic growth and how many jobs they would create if elected Governor.
Early on Dalton attacked McCrory’s jobs and tax approach
Walter Dalton: He would have the biggest corporations paying no tax in North Carolina. He wants to reallocate and shift that to the middle class, our working class, our senior citizens on fixed incomes and I don’t think that’s going to create any jobs whatsoever.
Pat McCrory: Well I do think we at least need to become competitive tax and income tax with our neighboring states of South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee is in a whole other world at this point in time. But the fact of the matter is we do need to be that to be competitive. And I think it would reduce the need to give these up front cash incentives, where you’re just throwing money at new businesses and again, taxing existing business which in turns helps pay for these incentives. That’s a very mixed and contradictory policy.
After McCrory, pivoted to incentives, Dalton responded by saying he doesn’t know anybody who likes incentives, but that they’re legal, and necessary for the state to remain competitive in attracting businesses and jobs.
The candidates actually agreed on the need for continued funding for early elementary education. Although neither candidate recognized the common ground, and quickly moved to more divisive territory. Dalton declared he wouldn’t make any cuts to education, while McCrory avoided that commitment and called for a reform of education. He said government must stop pouring money into a broken system or else it will continue to see the same failures.
Later in the forum both candidates were asked about hydraulic fracturing and drilling for natural gas, a process known as fracking.
Dalton responded first.
Dalton: I am open to all energy possibilities and fracking being one. I am open to it if it can be done safely. Not only safely. There is another issue. It takes a ton of water to do the fracking and where you’re talking about doing fracking is in some rural areas that are on wells that have experienced severe drought.
McCrory: Well like Governor Perdue like the last four years I can’t tell if they’re before it or against it based on that last comment. I’m in favor of it. It’s time to quit sitting on the sidelines. Borrow policies that have already been in place by democratic and republican governors across the nation, implement those in North Carolina and let the private sector determine whether or not there is natural gas underneath the precious ground here.
Neither candidate mentioned off-shore drilling.
Both men wore dark suits with red ties. McCrory appeared more relaxed throughout the debate while Dalton seemed tense. The two men have bickered back and forth about tax returns in recent weeks. Each was asked how much he contributed to taxes last year.
Dalton: I’m going to estimate 25-percent, give or take. I will say this, you have my tax returns. The people have my tax returns. And I think this is like an application for a job. And he hasn’t. So you haven’t seen his tax returns.
McCrory: I paid was what was require by the I-R-S and the IRS has never questioned my tax returns during the 36 years I’ve been gainfully employed in North Carolina. And I’m proud of that private sector experience. I’m not going to have the IRS start checking the personal tax records of city council members and mayors or governors. They need to stay out of our business and so do politicians.
The most recent series of polls show McCrory leading the Lieutenant Governor by 10 points. Libertarian candidate Barbara Howe is polling at five percent and was not in the debate. The second forum takes place October 16th, again preceding a presidential debate.