Early voting ends Saturday in North Carolina. Voters are electing a new governor - and they're also making selections for other statewide offices.
Secretary of State Elaine Marshall calls her office a maternity ward for businesses, where new companies are registered every day. The Democrat is running for a 5th term in the post. Marshall says she's revolutionized technology at the department, putting business and investment records online, improving efficiency and accessibility.
Elaine Marshall: "The proof's in the pudding, that we are in the top one two three or four listing on all kinds of best places to do business or start companies from independent sources that are nationally recognized."
Marshall's Republican challenger is Ed Goodwin. He says neighboring states are doing a better job recruiting industry.
Ed Goodwin: "If you sit behind a desk in Raleigh and become a bureaucrat and try to think everything's operating smoothly, you will believe you've got a good business climate. But if you travel around the state, you would find out something much different."
Goodwin's main proposal is what he calls a 100-county Quality Control Checklist, in which he would contact business and political leaders in each of state's counties.
Goodwin: "There's 6 things that now have to be focused on: the cost of doing business in the state, our labor force, our regulatory environment, our economic climate, our growth prospects and our quality of life. You have to find out what factors are affecting all of those 6 things that hurt the business climate in this state. You have to do that. That's called an investigation and analysis. I did that for 27 years."
Goodwin is referring to his work as an agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. He entered politics four years ago, becoming chair of the Chowan County Board of Commissioners. Since then the county has emerged from a fiscal crisis into solvency.
Marshall says Goodwin talks a lot about things the Secretary of State's office has no control over like regulation. And she says he doesn't have the experience that matters: legal expertise, rapport with the legislature, and knowledge of operating major databases.
Marshall: "His notion about being a business ambassador for all 100 counties - that's what the legislators do. I mean, I look at it as needing to be a level playing field. It would be actually improper for the Secretary of State to vault one region over another."
Marshall says in another term, she wants to further improve technology, prevent business identity fraud, and launch a financial literacy program for members of the armed forces.