Democratic Candidates For Lt. Governor Debate in Asheville

PhotobucketArratik and I, after loading up with kegs of Caffiend's finest roast, ventured into the blowing snow and made our way to UNC-Asheville's Lipinsky Auditorium for the first of six scheduled debates between the Democratic candidates for Lieutenant Governor. Moderated by NC 11th District Democratic Party Chairman, Luke Hyde, and organized by the NC Federation of College Democrats, the debate allowed too much time for each response and too little chance to compare candidates stances. Each of the four men meandered away from the prescribed questions. They're politicians, after all, and they're going to keep talking if you let them. Very few questions were answered at the Jan. 19th debate, but the ones that were reveal four distinct personalities running on four different records.

The debate was dominated by environment and energy issues, and this being Asheville, that's no surprise. I imagine that each debate will have its own set of pet issues, so I'm hopeful that we'll have a comprehensive picture of each candidate by the end of the series.

Dan Besse certainly came across as the environmental candidate by repeatedly listing his experience on various environmental boards and commissions as well as the progress he's made in Winston-Salem as City Councilman there. Walter Dalton's presentation was rooted in maintaining the status quo. One got the sense that if you like the Easley/Perdue system, you're going to love Walter Dalton. He's the status quo and isn't pretending to be anything else. Dalton was openly contemptuous of Hampton Dellinger, who has decided to attack Dalton on a number of issues while pretending he's in a two-man race. Hampton Dellinger, ambitious and proud, is another stay-the-course candidate. His determination to score some political points against Dalton was off-putting. Canton Mayor Pat Smathers, who got the least time to speak, probably had the most to say. Smathers concentrated his message on advocating that local leaders be empowered through targeted funding and increased decision-making latitude. He also concentrated on integrity, repeating Esse Quam Videri.

What follows is from my notes. Anything not in quotation marks is my blogger's prerogative paraphrase:


Dan Besse said his top two motivations for running are to improve environmental stewardship and promote equal opportunity. He highlighted his extensive experience in all things environmental throughout the day. Besse addressed NC's booming growth in this stark way - The number of people expected to move to NC in the next 20 years is equal to adding the population of South Carolina to our existing NC residents. He pointed out the achievement gap in education and that "1.4 million" people have no access to affordable health care.

Walter Dalton talked about his wife and told us that North Carolinians "want someone who will work as hard as they do". He trumpeted his record saying that in his 16 years representing Rutherford and Cleveland counties he championed higher teacher pay, lower class sizes, the "Learn and Earn" program, foreclosure protection, entrepreneurship, children's health care, a Senior Prescription drug benefit, the 12.5% alternative energy requirement, and the preservation of a half a million acres of public land. But, Dalton said, "the job is not complete". He wants to be Lt. Governor to continue on the same road.

Hampton Dellinger strode to the podium and emoted that he has the experience, fortitude, and energy to make a difference in Raleigh. He pointed out his wife and mentioned that she was Miss Asheville, 1987. Dellinger stressed his ability to "lead the state on a moment's notice in the event something happens to the Governor. He mentioned he was chief legal counsel to Governor Easley and that, as Deputy Attorney General, he "stood up to the drug companies". Dellinger said he protected the Appalachian Trail and public beach access, and that he has stood up to insurance companies. He called for fundamental protections for migrant workers as well. Then he attacked.

He claimed to be more pro-choice than Dalton. He said that Dalton wants two new coal plants. Lastly he questioned Dalton's claim that attacks are "the worst aspect of campaigns", feeling instead that he's drawing legitimate differences.

Under the debate rules, because Dellinger said Dalton's name, Dalton got a rebuttal.

Not for the last time, Dalton said that some would "comb through thousands of votes and distort them to mislead the people". Dalton defended the Cliffside plant because it will "shut down four" dirtier plants. He said he supports conservation, biofuels, tax credits for green buiding, and making state buildings energy efficient. He repeated "it's easy to comb through thousands of bills" before adding that he's the only person in the race who's voted on thousands of bills.

Pat Smathers explained that he believes North Carolina is a chain of communities and that it is government's role to help the weakest links. He wants to empower more people at the local level through strong public education, a clean environment, and fair administration of justice. "My slogan is Local Leadership, Statewide", Smathers said, pushing for additional resources to local governments to address their issues. He ended by saying the motto of his campaign is Esse Quam Videri, and that he wasn't running on hypocrisy.

{Strangely, each candidate was given a different question, and the format didn't allow all the candidates to chime in on each issue. It looked like mistakes were made. Here's hoping they straighten it out in time for the second debate}

Q: What have you done in your previous career or public service to protect and create jobs in NC?

Dan Besse:

  • As a local and as a rep. of Winston-Salem, we have one of the top ten most effective regional economic models in the country
  • We've gotten 15,000,000 dollars for workforce development
  • Rural colleges work with area hospitals to meet the workforce needs
  • We need to promote both rural and urban counties
  • In Winston-Salem: Recruiting industry - tax rates low, sound budgeting, standard municipal services
  • We have to ensure best education, the best Community College and University system. This is a "necessary prerequisite for economic development"
  • People need health care and small businesses are buckling under the weight of the costs as well.

Q: Arguably Lt Gov. Bev Perdue has expanded the traditional role of Lt. Governor. Would you follow this tradition? What differences would you make?

Walter Dalton:

  • Use the bully pulpit, the voice of the people
  • Move forward with education, health care, creating jobs
  • Create Opportunity
  • Poverty rate is too high
  • College students can graduate debt free through his Learn and Earn program
  • Use bully pulpit

Q: Why do you think you have more experience to be Lt. Governor than other candidates on the stage?

Bullydoc offers us the video of this exchange, the most dynamic of the day. Check out Dan Besse's jab against Dellinger six minutes in:

Q: Should State Government take the lead on alternative energy production or trust corporations to do it?Pat Smathers:
  • "Absolutely government has to take the lead."
  • They [power companies] are going to "squeeze every last nickel out of oil"
  • What if state would help local motor fleets to become greener?
  • Empowering local people
  • Mayors get things done

{These questions were submitted by attendees during an intermission after the first round}

Q: In your public life, what is the most significant decision you've had to make?

Walter Dalton: "To put myself into public life"

  • It impacts family
  • Did lots of volunteer work in Rutherford County, making a difference in people's lives
  • 12th year as NC Senator
  • "People are shooting at you a lot of the time, as you've seen here today."
  • Proud of Community Colleges
  • Growing new jobs right now
  • Proud of the latest budget
  • Gerontology, health and wellness
  • Climatology - 5 IPCC scientists came out of AVL
  • "We're on the cutting edge", "a leader in nanoscience", "biofuels project", "help our farmers", "Cancer Research Center will be the number one CRC in America"
  • 1 in 3 NCers will have cancer
  • Home protection pilot that protected folks from foreclosure

Q: Please discuss some ways that NC should address the needs of returning veterans

Pat Smathers: "Currently there's no one on the Council of State with military experience"

  • 28 years in National Guard
  • "Military service is not a requirement for public service but it is helpful"
  • Care for all vets, not just recent vets from Afghanistan and Iraq
  • Majority of homeless people in NC are vets
  • Provide benefits for veterans
  • Protect their jobs while they're serving in the armed forces
  • When they're down and out give them a hand, but that won't come from Raleigh.
  • I can make executive decisions

Q: What is your detailed plan for future power, and how does that relate to nuclear?

Hampton Dellinger: "NC relies on nuclear power, we get 1/3 of our power from nuclear"

  • Coal provides "clear and present danger with global warming"
  • We need safely produced nuclear energy, waste that can be safely transported and stored
  • We have incredible potential across the range of safe, renewable energies
  • Conservation is a source of energy
  • We need to lead in energy efficiency
  • He mentions "Smart Metering in California"
  • "We don't know how far and how fast we can get" with renewables
  • NC ought to be a leader in sustainable communities and renewable energies
  • Schools should be green buildings - retrofitted and efficient

{Pat Smathers asked the moderator for time to put his two cents in}

Pat Smathers: "I do not think nuclear energy is an option for North Carolina"

  • Areas around here [Buncombe County] were studied for nuclear waste dumps 15-20 years ago
  • We don't need it in Asheville's back yard or anyone else's

Q: What do you see as North Carolina's role on the problem of global warming?

Dan Besse: "We can provide leadership"

  • We have a problem
  • We are emitting too much CO2
  • Climate Action Plan Advisory Group - submitted plan
  • Plan has gone to State DENR and others
  • Need to work cooperatively in interstate agreements for cap and trade, providing incentives to reduce emissions
  • Be aggressive in energy efficiency and energy conservation
  • Conservation is a source of energy
  • Use renewables - offshore wind, biofuels, reduce imported oil, reduce emissions
  • More efficient transportation and development patterns
  • Stop sprawl


Walter Dalton repeated his "some can comb over those votes and distort them" defense at the outset. Then he rattled off a series of vaguely good-sounding words: "Knowledge-based economy", "Knowledge", "Ability", "Experience", "Make sure our best days are ahead of us". In conclusion, Dalton asked us to consider whether we'd get on an airplane if the co-pilot had never flown.

Hampton Dellinger came out from behind the table and spoke from the front of the stage. He spoke about big picture politics, how North Carolina ought to be a blue state. "Help me be North Carolina's #2, and I'll help North Carolina be #1", Dellinger promised. He then mentioned workers, children, seniors, protecting reproductive rights, and reducing racial disparities.

Pat Smathers' closing statement was captured on video by Arratik:

Dan Besse applauded all the candidates, saying none are "marginal". He repeated his desire to offer leadership on the environment, affordable health care, equal opportunity, and education. Touting his "real world experience outside the Beltway" of Raleigh, Besse said he knew the differences between urban problems and rural problems. He asserted he would stop the revolving door between corporate law and public office and would wear "work shoes not wingtips" if elected.gordonnhamp-smmiller-ac-t.jpg

{Pic credit - smmiller at the Asheville Citizen-Times}


I was shocked and appalled that none of the candidates had mentioned the mental health system crisis at any point during the debate. I'd submitted two separate questions on the issue, neither of which were asked, and the candidates hadn't once listed fixing our broken system as a priority. So I made it my mission to go to each candidate to ask if they felt there was a problem, what they think the problem is, and what solutions they would offer.

I found four candidates who don't know much about it. All four mentioned new Secretary of Health and Human Services' plan to keep Dorothea Dix Hospital open and to funnel more money into crisis services, but none of them had any idea about the community mental health system's ongoing collapse. Dan Besse and Pat Smathers offered to learn more, and I'll be sending them information soon.

Unless candidates for State office are prepared to prioritize our embarrassing, failing mental health system, they will be tacitly approving the status quo. They will approve of our 50th in the nation status in per capita mental health spending. They will approve of shrinking services to the uninsured and underinsured as private providers, having made every effort to survive the state's dreadful incompetency, decide whether to limit services or shut their doors.


Pat Smathers and Dan Besse are the candidates running for Lt. Governor who are prepared to alter the course our state is on. If you like Mike Easley, you can comfortably vote for either Walter Dalton or Hampton Dellinger with the knowledge you'll get more of what you like. Smathers' take infers a devolution of power from Raleigh down to municipalities and counties and an increase in funding those local authorities to solve their problems. Dan Besse is the environmental candidate who's expertise could have enormous impact on that issue. Perhaps due to his immense understanding of environmental policy, he comes across as less informed in other areas.

From where I was sitting, local boy Pat Smathers won the first debate. Without pretense, attack, or obfuscation, Smathers laid out a vision for leadership that empowers local leaders to solve problems at the local level through proper support from Raleigh. He stayed out of the Dellinger - Dalton sniping and connected with the audience.

The race boils down to two "Stay the Course" candidates and two candidates who have a more progressive vision for the state. Dalton and Dellinger think they're the only two running, and that arrogance plays poorly in public forums. I'm undecided on whether Dan Besse or Pat Smathers would be the better Lt. Governor and will be looking forward to reading more of their positions as the debate series continues.

In the comments, please leave your reactions. All of the campaigns are reading this, and your comments will help them prepare for future engagements. Thanks to all of the candidates for creating this opportunity to see the four of you together. Everyone's going to have their own opinions about who's the best candidate, but I'm confident that the worst we'll do is a reflection of what we've got now.

{crossposted from Scrutiny Hooligans}

edited 1/21/2008 to give proper credit. - LCloud - The Debate Series was organized by the NC Federation of College Democrats. Thanks for the write-up, Gordon!


Gordon, this is wonderful

I only had time to read half of it at this sitting, but I am so excited to have your notes (I trust your blogger's prerogative) and will finish reading as soon as I can. I haven't had a chance to meet Mayor Smathers, but hopefully will before the campaign. (Someone from his staff saw me say that once and contacted me to say that Pat would be happy to make time for me the next time he's in the area....if that tells you anything about these folks.) I do like Hampton personally, but haven't seen him in action. So far I've had more exposure to Dan Besse than any of the others and a really, really like Dan. I'm torn and look forward to the rest of the debates - even if I will only hear about them second hand.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Pat Smathers

I had a chance to talk to the good Mayor Pat (as opposed to evil Myers Park Pat) for a couple of minutes at the Soil and Water Annual meeting earlier this month. If he wins the nomination I will have no problems voting for him.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

Many thanks Gordon and Arratik and bullydoc

And thanks to the sponsors of the debates, the NC Young Democrats. It's starting to have the feel of little "d" democracy to have the LG candidates sparring all across the state.
News of the 10th district: See Pat Go Bye Bye,

LG Debate

Thanks for taking time to cross-post this here. I've been scouring the Tubes for insights about the debate, and your report is far and away the most complete and cogent that exists. Much appreciated.

I've met three of the four (not Dalton) and am impressed with the level of dedication across the board.

I haven't seen polling lately, but I suspect Dellinger's approach maybe driven by the numbers game. Dalton has the insider's track and the support of all the good old boys in the NC Chamber of Commerce NC Senate. He's a corporatist through and through and seems proud of it. The old philosophy of "attack if you're behind" has turned the governor's race into a mud-slinging contest, and it looks like some of that is going on here. There's no way this isn't going to a runoff.

Dellinger's strategy of trying to make this a two-person race is smart tactically, even if it's off-putting to those who are watching this stuff closely. Most people aren't paying attention at all, which means the primary will be 99% about name recognition. Smathers and Besse run the risk of splitting the "outsider" vote, throwing the runoff to Dellinger and Dalton.

There's no question Besse is the most articulate and experienced on environmental issues. I've also found him up to speed on other issues too.

Hopefully the debate format will get smoothed out.

Thanks again for this good coverage.

PS Cliffside, as evidence of Dalton's kowtowing to big bidness, could become his Achilles heel. Combine that with voting to cut taxes on the rich and you have a pretty good view of someone more concerned with special interests than public interest.

Gordon, This is great.

I have to say there are really no surprises in your account for anyone who has been following the race. I'm sorry the format didn't seem balanced; it would have been good for the all candidates to answer all questions, or at least a few. That way, we wouldn't have to guess about their positions, experience, etc.

I will be attending Thursday's debate in Fayetteville, and will be taking copious notes (the old fashioned way) and hopefully getting some video assistance as well. I'm also taking some teenage debaters with me, and I'll either get their impressions or get them to post them. It will be very interesting to see if the tactics change. At any rate, I hope to post my play-by-play by next weekend.

I have pretty much narrowed down my choice for LG between two candidates, and I've been waiting until after I hear the debate on Thursday to make my choice as to where my ultimate support will go.

If any of the rest of you are there, please look for me (I will be the short one.) and introduce yourself. I'm going to see if Momoaizo will come with me, too.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

off putting

What is offputting is your dismissive attitude towards Hampton. He is a serious and substantive candidate with real progressive positions and impressive accomplishments both in and out of government. Besse's schoolmarmish tendency to say "about time young man" to everything hampton says is tiresome. Dalton somehow thinks he was supposed to be able to run for office without anyone looing at his record. Smathers is a great guy who is running as good a race as his budget will allow.

I hope the next time they debate there will be a fairminded report.

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

One good thing about being on the fence

is being able to watch with a dispassionate eye, or at least try to. Some are criticizing Dellinger's style, you're critcizing Besse's. We're all watching the same exact stuff. Fascinating.

I hope the next time they debate there will be a fairminded report.

As we say in consulting, the first person who gets to the white board with a marker wins.

My "dismissive attitude"

This was the first time I've seen the candidates. Dellinger came off as divisive and false. Like I say in my conclusion, that's my opinion. Other folks will have other opinions, it seems. I'm fairminded as can be, but I'm also honest about my reaction to the candidates. Dellinger went on the attack early and often. He and Dalton can have their back-and-forth. To me it sounds like two insiders fighting for Lt. Gov. so they can position themselves for a run at Governor.

Thanks for letting me know what you think, but if you're looking for "unbiased" reporting, why are you at a blog?

Scrutiny Hooligans -

what is offputting about your comment

was that you behaved as if Gordon had said, "Someone please tell me what is offputting about my post."

If you had just said that you found Gordon's attitude about Dellinger offputting, I would not have found your comment so offputting.

Or I could go off and do some putting.

I couldn't resist. All of you will have to forgive me.
News of the 10th district: See Pat Go Bye Bye,

Off putting


It says "of putting" not "off putting." Grrrrrr.

We're bad

My husband just said, "This is pathetic."

But he wants to learn the art of putting and he would rather be off putting. See, I can't stop.
News of the 10th district: See Pat Go Bye Bye,


Rather than jump down the throats of people taking the time to sort out a broad field of candidates in an oft-ignored primary election, maybe try to hear why people are cold on your guy.

The only one I've eliminated at this point is Dalton, because an LG race in a year with a Democratic wave building and three much bigger statewide races above it on the ticket, this seems like a time to push a true progressive through. I realize Dellinger's a progressive and has a lot of experience in statewide office, but the guy just keeps leaving me absolutely cold. He sounds like he's playing political chess, not trying to lead the state.

I very much appreciate that he's shown up here several times in our electronic peanut gallery and provided some very extensive responses, but damn, they all sound like, "I have demonstrated the leadership to..." and "I have a plan to..." and "We stand on the doorstep to a new millennium." I consider myself a pretty intensive policy wonk who's pretty tied into statewide issues, but I have yet to hear Hamp say anything that resonates as a clear solution to problems the state is facing. He's more pro-choice than Dalton? As a LG, what the hell difference does it make?

Dellinger may be the right guy for the nomination, but his campaign could use a serious kick in the butt about sounding more like a leader and less like a salesman at Sears.


that's a good discription. He leaves me cold.

I no longer vote in NC but I'm wondering if it wouldn't be better to elect a candidate who is respectful towards constituents but doesn't always share my point of view (or vote my way) . . . than to vote for a self-described progressive who doesn't seem to have the ability to listen.

Of course, in this case, we have one other candidate who is a proven progressive (Besse) and another candidate who may not sound as progressive but has a lot of great progressive ideas (Smathers). Of course, they haven't raised the money to be considered "viable." Or, is that just what Hampton Dellinger wants us to think?
News of the 10th district: See Pat Go Bye Bye,


One problem is that we don't know how much the candidates have raised. They haven't reported since July of last year. That's crazy. At least, I can't find any more recent figures on the State Board of Election site.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

V e r y i n t e r e s t i n g

For some reason, I'd thought the numbers were out. So why do people keep saying Hampton is viable but the other two "progressives" aren't?
Are they all Hampton fans trying to get us to believe his strategy without facts to back it up?

Full disclosure: I'm a big Smathers fan who has a ton of respect for Besse.
News of the 10th district: See Pat Go Bye Bye,

If they are out, they aren't on the official website.

Maybe the candidates have made announcements?

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

They arent out

Both the FEC and the state board are actually really really good at getting at a minimum PDFs of the campaign finance reports up as quickly as they can.

The reason we dont know anyting past July is that the campaigns are only required to declare their funds twice in a year they are not on the ballot. So for the LG race it will be: July 2007, End of December 2007 (not filed yet), and then end of March and I think 2 or 3 weeks before the primary (not sure on that), then end of June, end of October and end of the year.

I should add, as an after thought, some links. SBOE search function

Within that, the image links are PDFs. The data links take longer to show up, and are the result of the hard work of the State Board of Elections.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

At the risk of making a really small comment column

While I realize money raised is one important indicator in the viability of a candidate, I'm not sure it's the only one, and I'm not sure it indicates an inevitability.

I was initially put off by the first of Dellinger's campaign emails I received, in which the first line was trumpeting how much money he raised. If I were a stockholder in a corporation, who was going to earn a profit from that, I would have been thrilled with that. But as a voter, it turned me off. If you've raised that much money, dude, you don't need me or my support. He's had a couple of good ideas, but I've got to admit he's a distant third on my list. Who's first? It's a tie. Seriously. Mostly I think Besse. Until I think Smathers.

I have no use for old ideas and old politics, done in the same old ways. I'm ready for new faces and new ideas. I'd love to see Smathers for Governor and Besse for Lt. Gov. Unstoppable.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Another take

(Full disclosure before I comment, I am a long time lurker but have never posted here before, and I'm a Dellinger supporter and volunteer.)

Good post, Gordon, thanks for bringing the debate particulars to light for the folks who couldn't be there. There is a ton of stuff you wrote that I agree with, but I did want to offer a counterpoint to some of your notes as relate to Dellinger.

First, the notion that Dellinger and Dalton are ideologically similar ("stay the course candidates" as you wrote) is way off base. Dellinger is a progressive, Dalton isn't. The Dellinger "attacks" on Dalton you referenced seemed to me to be an effort to point out differences on the issues between Dellinger and Dalton. Given that you lump them together in your post, it seems like Dellinger should keep pointing out the differences until the differences between him and Dalton are clearer to anyone and everyone who is listening.

Second, it's misleading to characterize Dellinger as saying he is "more pro-choice than Dalton" -- Dellinger said he is pro-choice and that Dalton's record reflects that Dalton is not. It's important to me, as a voter, to have a clear handle on where the candidates stand on the issues and your post read sarcastically to me. Maybe I misinterpreted your tone as snarkiness here, and if so I apologize, but it seemed to me Dellinger was again pointing out a key distinction between him and Dalton.

Third and last, your comments on the style points of Dellinger's performance (and here I am referring to your comments that, "Dellinger strode... and emoted", "Then he attacked", his "arrogance", and your opinion that Dellinger is "pretending that he is in a two man race") seem -- as another commenter mentioned -- off-putting, needlessly negative and not in keeping with the insightful and balanced tone of much of your post. It's cheap, doesn't add to the dialogue, and is contradicted by what I saw as well as the clip posted by Bullydoc.

Criticism could be made of the style points of each candidate in the race, all on different grounds. What made the debate great, though -- what makes BlueNC and citizen journalism great -- and what made much of your post great -- is a thorough vetting of issues that help us all as voters get informed and make the right choice for ourselves.

One of these guys is going to be representing all of us (well, all of us on this website anyway) in a few months -- I hope it will be Dellinger, you evidently hope it will be someone else -- if we can't change each other's minds, let's at least remember we're all gonna be on the same team after the primary.

Welcome Blue Beagle

A great first comment. Thanks for coming out of the shadows.

Simple question

Assuming of course that Dellinger thinks equally of all 3 of his opponents, why have all of his so-called distinctions involved why he is right on X and Dalton is wrong on X?

Even here you say that Dellinger is pro-choice and Dalton is not. How does Dellinger stack up against the other two? What would he actually do to protect the issue of choice in his role as LG? From where I sit I have trouble seeing anything he could do one way or the other, unless there was a specific bill that needed a tie-breaking vote.

I dont expect you to be able to answer this, but in what other way would Dellinger's position be at all relevant to the office?

And, I have to absolutely disagree with you. Bullydoc's video showed some very clear arrogance. As I have already stated, Dellinger's very first statement is contradicted by everything else he has to say. And, almost every time I have seen Dellinger stake out a position, including in that video, he has presented that position in opposition to a prior position by Dalton. Except of course when he is stating his unqualified position that women are equal to men. Which, again, would have been impressive if this race was being held in 1958. But its 2008. I would expect the f-ing Republicans to be able to at least say the exact same thing, even if their actions dont always follow.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Thanks, Beagle

Like I said, this was my first look at the candidates, so I'm giving what are, essentially, first impressions. I'm well aware that there's plenty I don't know about all of these candidates.

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I like to see folks get behind their candidates. We'll have five more of these debates, and forums like this will continue to provide as much information as possible. We'll also allow our personal feelings and thoughts to be on display.

Democracy is fun!

Scrutiny Hooligans -

Some thoughts. (edited for clarity)

First, thank you for your time and input Gordon. Regardless of what some might say above, you went, you taped, your wrote, you published - thank you. I think Pat Smathers is a great candidate, but I also think that unless things have changed, he has been raising an unreasonably small amount of cash. That matters. There is no way that Pat can compete against Dalton or Dellinger with so little money. I know that stormbear supported Kucinich because he believed, even though he had no money; and, I know that Sam did the same with Biden. I guess that as close as I am willing to come to that would be someone like Besse, who is far behind but who still has a nice six-figure fundraising under his belt.

As for Dellinger. My experience with Hampton have been very different under different circumstances. First, here at BlueNC he came and posted press releases, complete with "Sincerely," and all. At the Orange County convention he showed up at the end of the candidate introductions, grabbed the microphone and proceeded to give a somewhat lengthy rah-rah speech about his campaign. What was odd about that? No one gets to speak when they introduce candidates. Not even David Price. It was a little tone deaf. Along that same vein, his ads are a little odd at times.

Now, on the other hand. My son and I met Hampton at Whole Foods one day and had a long conversation. Okay, he did "play" the politician, but he was also a real nice guy to chat with. We talked about kids, rainbow soccer, all sorts of things. I liked him, still do I guess (haven't seen or talked to him since then).

In the end, I'm left with two pictures of Hampton, one of a nice guy with a nice family that I would be pleased to invite over to the house for a cook-out (or chili, like we did tonight with several couples). But, there is that other Hampton, the politician, who seems a little overanxious, a little tone-deaf, a little eager, and maybe a little blind to his image.

I think I would be apt to support Hampton, but in the end, I have reservations.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Dan's closing remarks

"I believe that we need someone with experience both in the growing urban regions of our state and the rural areas. Hands on experience in addressing the very different problems that you deal with in the areas of our cities where the economy is booming and the areas of our countryside where businesses are closing and we're falling further behind.

I have the real-world, hands-on experience in both...We need that combination."

Dan Besse


Dan Besse wasn't just the most articulate and knowledgeable speaker on the environment in this debate, but he even took the time to visit Warren County which is where the fight for Environmental Justice began in the United States. It did not matter that Warren County is small and rural, Dan is committed. He has been tilling these fields for quite some time, which his record shows.
Councilman Besse is experienced in creating partnerships with rural and urban areas which produce jobs as well as other needed resources for the people of North Carolina. He continually demonstrates his commitment to equal opportunity in employment, education, and health care. There is no wonder he got the vote of the NC Progressives. He is an all around good candidate.

And for #2. Article in Charlotte Observer today

At the end of the day, the Democrats need to elect someone who can win a general election. Here is what was written is the Charolotte Observer today.

The Democrats:

• Mayor Pat Smathers of Canton. Aged 54, he has practiced law and represented the Haywood County school board. He ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate in 1990.

• Hampton Dellinger, 40, a lawyer who lives in Durham and who has been deputy attorney general in North Carolina and counsel to Gov. Mike Easley.

• Dan Besse, 53, a Winston-Salem lawyer and city council member. He was a director of the N.C. Public Interest Research Group and worked for a legal aid nonprofit in New Bern before moving to Winston-Salem. He ran unsuccessfully for the state House in 1998.

• State Sen. Walter Dalton, D-Rutherfordton. Aged 58, Sen. Dalton is a lawyer and is serving his sixth term in the General Assembly. He is co-chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

More video footage from the first debate

We've posted a few more Asheville debate clips over at, including this one highlighting Pat's response to an important environmental question.

For those of you who weren't able to join us in Asheville, I'd be happy to send you a disc with a copy of the complete debate. Just send your address to

We're looking forward to seeing many of you in Fayetteville on Thursday. Thanks so much for your support.

Take care,


Hanna Raskin
Campaign Manager
Smathers for Lt. Gov.

Hanna Raskin
Campaign Manager
Smathers for Lt. Gov.

Thanks for posting this.

Much appreciated.

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