I'm attending the debate this evening in Fayetteville and will, if I can get access, attempt to liveblog it to the best of my ability. I'm setting up this entry so I can just log on and update.
UPDATE: We're here. Hobnobbing in progress. Wayne Goodwin is studiously scribbling at the lectern. Game on in 12 minutes.
6:58 - Take your seats, we're ready to go. All four candidates are still "middle aged white guys," to quote a very unfortunate Charlotte Observer story. Decent crowd, probably 50-75. Campaign families and representatives, along with what looks to be 2 or 3 FSU political science classes.
FULL DISCLOSURE - I'm a friend of and volunteer for Hampton Dellinger. BUt I will try to be evenhanded and fair as possible. I intend to comment, rather than give you a transcript.
NewsChannel 14 is here, and the Dellinger campaign and College Dems are videotaping.
Your humble correspondent is seated on a media row. Heh heh. I'm the MSM. Yeahhhhh boyeee!
seat taking going slowly.
7:09 - Laura DeCastro, President of NC Federation of College Democrats
introduces the candidates introduces the introducers.
Sarah Marks and the FSU College Dems have put together a nice event here. Good for Sarah, who is helping get the chapter back and active.
Wayne Goodwin, nattily attired in a suit and bright red sweater, approaches the mike.
No applause or placards will be allowed. Lack of decorum = ejection. Not sure who will enforce tha, but it is a rule.
Let me say again how impressive it is that the College Dems have been able to put this together. This is no small undertaking. Pat Smathers had a good idea and it speaks highly of all four candidates that they have agreed to do this.
Wayne is reminding us that this year is the 150th anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. I did not know that.
Order of openings by draw - Dellinger, Dalton, Besse, Smathers
Then questions - the same question to each candidate, according to the rules by alphabetical order. Two minutes to answer. If you mention a candidate in your answer, that candidate gets to respond in a 30 second rebuttal. Wayne will control who gets to respond if the series of rebuttals goes too far.
Part II of the debate is open to questions submitted by the audience.
Here we go! 25 minutes behind schedule, but here we go in any event.
Hampton's opening statement. Number one in business, but not in healthcare, quality of air and water, protecting our elders. I'm running because there is more, much more, we need to do.
More than just for business.
Wants all new schools to be LEED certified.
College for every North Carolinian as free as practicable. Live up to the constitution.
Worked at the highest levels in the Executive Branch. Look forward to comparing my experience with those of others.
We're here tonight to determine who will be the Democratic nominee. Our party stands for important ideals. Our platform means something. What we believe in. What we hold dear. Proud my policy positions are consistent with that platform. One of my opponents is not. I look forward to comparing my record to Mr. Dalton's.
Support choice, fight global warming, support affirmative action. Dalton does not.
Must fully inform voters on our positions. Would be honored to be your nominee. Democratic party deserves a nominee who will stand up for the core ideals.
Proud to have served in the Senate. Looking forward to correxting "distortions." People do not want petty politics, they want results.
Have worked hard to update education. Created "home protection" pilot to protect displaced workers. Preparing for the new knowledge based economy. Investments in Colleges and Community colleges. Brought the science program here to FSU.
Attracting military contractors to our state.
Today we have over 100,000 children on the CHIPS program
We created the number one public cancer research center in the Nation.
More business friendly NC. Defense technology center. In state tuition to military personnel.
I want to work to solve the problems of NC. Work with you to make NC a better place to live, work and raise a family. i will work as hard as you do to build a better future.
Dan Besse -
Running to bring positive change.
Two concerns about which I am most passionate:
(1) equal opportunity for all - good education, jobs, housing, healthcare. Regardless of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation or national origin.
(2) environmental stewardship - all these things we have received to use wisely and conserve and hold in trust for future generations.
Worked for these ideals all my life. Legal aid. 20 years on policy making boards and commissions such as EMC. Citizen conservation groups and reproductive choice groups. Elected official at local level.
Running for statewide office because 2008 is a critical year. Leaders elected this year will deal with the challenges of growth at a time of historic drought and competition for resources.
This election will determine how we deal with the crisis of million north carolinians without access to healthcare. 1/2 of minority children do not graduate from high school. Lt. Governor can make sure that these issues are dealt with.
No closed doors in the State Senate.
Talks about the chairmanships that come along with Lt. Governoship and how he will serve in those capacities. Commitment and experience.
Thanks everyone. Pat has a great voice.
Unless we come out and meet you, we will never break the grasp that the moneyed interests have on ourgovernment.
How many of you do not know where Canton is? Thanks for hurting my feelings.
Talks about the two 500 year floods in 10 days that did $100million damage to his town. That experience made him want to run.
NC is a chain of communities. Whether eastern village with no access to water and sewer, a western town with a Meth problem, or a city struggling with growth, the weakest link in that chain must be focused on. Make our communities strong to make North Carolina strong.
We do that with dedication to traditional Democratic values.
Local leadership, statewide. Not about a mayor running for office. It is about empowering local leaders to take charge of problems in you communities.
70% of services enjoyed come from local government.
83% of waste treatment
93% of water treatment
all garbage pick up
Local government makes the decisions.
Esse Quam Videri - similar to the miliary values I learned. Do not be hypocritical. You should hold all politicians to that standard. Looking forward to it.
1 - You should expect to receive a question about the military when you are down here. Lt. Governor Perdue has put a great deal of time into preventing the loss of military installations? What would you do?
Besse apologizes for failing to mention mental healthcare in his opening. Wanted to fulfill a promise.
Besse pledges to maintain tradition and work with congressional delegation to welcome the presence of Army, Marines, Air Force, "AND THE NAVY WHEN THEY GET HERE."
(Not sure what that means in reference to OLF.)
Dalton - pledges to make sure we preserve what the GA did to make life better for soldiers. Will expand that to families. Those also serve who stand and wait. Work to help children communicate with parents serving abroad. Make sure schools are ready.
Proud military has a presence in NC. Proud of service personnel. Working with families is what I will do in addition.
Dellinger - I agree with all those comments. Would add that we also need to take care of the reserves. Make sure agencies are helping active and reserve and their families. But need to hold Federal Govt's feet to the fire.
Troops abandoned at Walter Reed. Families abandoned. State officials have responsibility to go to Washington and urge feds to uphold their share.
TURNS TO DALTON and says he has not distorted Dalton's record. "Only one distorting is you."
Then thanks Besse for bringing up mental health.
Smathers - Several ways to protect military bases. First you have to understand the military. Says he is the only one with any military experience.
(Dalton is pissed - talking to Besse very animatedly while Smathers speaks)
Smathers continues - you have to address mental illness in the homeless population - majority are veterans. It is WRONG and sad. Wrong that nobody on the Council of State has any military experience. I do.
support All American enterprise zone to bring in industries to support our bases and our veterans and reserves.
Dalton gets a rebuttal. Most certainly have distorted my record. Abortion should be safe legal and rare. On affirmative action, my record is clear - I authored the bill requiring state to recruit minority contractors.
Besse - must be precise when making statements about public records. There is a difference between Sen. Dalton and th three of us on Cliffside. But not a charge well founded that Dalton is antichoice.
Smathers - I still want to talk to the miltary people. Dont want to deal in squabbles.
Dellinger - two points -- woman's reproductive rights are not a squabble. US Supreme Court has abandoned this and it is going to become a state issue. Quotes Dalton on abortion in the first trimester. No exception for health in the second trimester.
Cutoff by bell
Besse - I have a strong record on choice, willing to take Mr. Dalton's word for his position. That statement is 10 years old.
Smathers - I want to move on.
Dalton - on Cliffside - we will replace four other plants I think it is a good thing.
Dellinger - Mr. Dalton's position is within a few weeks. He said he wouldn't go as far as Roe v. Wade in his personal preference. That's a real issue.
Ed. Note - format awkward, because give and take ends up being not on the subject of the question. But it may work. We'll see.
QUESTION TWO - What will replace the core industries weve lost?
Besse - no single industry will. Need to focus on energy efficiency. Cna save money and provide thousands of jobs. Also need to take a regional approach to economic development to allow weaker counties to take advantage of strengths of urban counties nearby. We do that in the Triad. Speaks of specific projects. bring that approahc statewide.
(Ed. Note: I'd like to know if the Fed Ex facility that devalued my former home is one of those projects)
Dalton - agree no one industry will. But our economy rides on the back of small business. Best entrepreneurship program in the country. Two guys in a bicycle shop invented flight.
Also need to bring in more military contractors. We supply our military here at home.
Senior services and health care will be a growth area. People aren't going to retire to China.
Biotech. Offers innumerable opportnities.
But we will fail if we dont spread that throughout the state. I've championed development in rural NC. Science and Tech complex here at FSU will help with that.
Dellinger - disagree with the premise. Textile and furniture not industries of the past. Present and future for both. nanotech in textiles is amazing. Replacing human skin with engineered fibres.
IN furniture we ave to compete with Las Vegas. Nothing will be too small for me to protect furniture and textile.
I went to Kannapolis time and time again to help those workers. I am committed to helping them.
NC State government needs to reimaging how it does economic devp.t Giving away too much money, too fast, to too many large companies.
We have to create quality of life to recruit. We've gone too far in commitments to big companies. I would keep those commitments, but I would lead an effort to reevaluate that program.
Smathers - diverse state. Build on the strengths of the local areas. Dont bring in a big target that will leave you when they want to go somewhere else.
All American enterprise zone is a great idea. Build on what works in a local area. Western NC - build small businesses. most jobs created by SMALL businesses. Help the ones already here. They won't leave us.
QUESTION THREE - Insurance - do you favor the current automobile insurance system in which the commissioner sets the rates?
Besse - yes. we have some of the lowest rates in the nation. Not broken, shouldn't change it.
On health insurance - the skyrocketing cost of health insurance is a problem for employers. Hurting more than anything else. Must make access available to all in our state and affordable. Necessary to the economy. Should make it easier for small employers to band together. Too tough to do that in NC today. need a statutory change.
Dalton - I am for the system that leads to the lowest cost. Look at your telephone bill. Hidden charges. We do not have the lowest cost. We have lowest premiums but some of the surcharges are inordinantly high. I will look at gthe report that comes back and then I will support the lowest cost, most transparent cost.
Dellinger - I think it is important when candidates and elected officials recognize the limits of our knowledge. Nobody here knows more about this than our moderator. And if he thinks our rates our low, then I don't disagree. I do understand there is a problem with high cost in the high risk pool - we need to look at that.
Also know that with health insurance, the emergency room should not be first line of health care.
Wants to amend the State Constitution to guarantee health care like we guaranteed public education.
Need to make nonprofit companies do their fair share.
Smathers - Should we change the current system? The measuring stick is what is in best interests of the people. Current system does that. I don't see anything here by maneuvering by the insurance companies and the larger law firms in raleigh who support them.
All of us are for health care and mental health improvements.
QUESTION FOUR - Describe your legal experience. You are all lawyers.
Besse - I worked for legal aid. Helped the poor stay in their homes. Will never forget one elderly couple who were faced with losing their ome because of health care bills. we saved their home.
Since then I have represented conservation and consumer groups against rate increases, for access to healthcare, and in public service roles as chair of Coastal Resources Commission, etc. City leader.
Dalton - Graduated from Chapel Hill. Two years in federal court system. Back to Rutherfordton in a small practice. Wonderful experience helping your clients through their lives and businesses. Also represented local governments. Know the needs of towns and counties. Also prosecuted abuse and neglect and child support cases. Tough cases - I saw what poverty and substance abuse does. That's why I helped establish Family Support Services in that county. And that led me to the NC Senate. Since then I have worked very hard on education and poverty issues.
If you are thinking about a legal career, highly recommend it.
Dellinger - I clerked for Judge Dixson Phillips. During that year Judge Phillips ruled that VMI and the Citadel had to admit women. Upheld the NC Congressional districts that year. Then I went to a firm in DC - worked for paying clients but also spent most of my time doing pro bono work for the NAACP in Baltimore to get them through a debt crisis. Don't think I'll ever do anything more important.
Deputy Atty General of NC - prosecuted criminals and criminal appeals. Legal Counsel to Governor Easley. represented the people of north carolina.
Smathers - After I went home, I engaged in the best type of practice - a small practice. "People practice." All aspects of representing people. Varied practice. Thats what the LG should be about - a people practice. So many of the things that take place in the legislature roll over into our daily lives. I have a reputation in my town of being the person to solve problems. I hope you will go to law school and take care of the people of this state.
FIRST ROUND OVER.
Be back in a jiff with a second post.