Liveblogging the Fayetteville Lt. Gov. Debate

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.


Dalton next.

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.


Pat Smathers

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.

Nice touch.

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.



Be back in a jiff with a second post.


Thanks, Dr. Frank

Assuming you can get access, we'll get you on the front page for the blow-by-blow. Thanks for doing this.

I was planning on being there.

I'm not going to make it. Lots of complications. I'm wussing out on a lot of things these days. ::sigh::

I wish all of the candidates the best.

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

We'll miss you.

I was looking forward to meeting you in person. I'll try to hold down the fort.

"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

Keep 'em coming

Thanks, Dr. Frank. I was really hoping to make it tonight, thanks for the post, keep the updates coming.

having trouble updating - contents modified by other user.


"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

Try again

I was editing your post to front-page it at the exact same time you were updating. I'll stay out from here on out.

You could also just update in the comments, which might be easier for us out here in the peanut gallery.

Yeah, this is great!

I wanted to be there but was trapped in Charlotte...and you know what that's like.

This is a super effort, thanks again!


I've put a link in BlueNC Bulletins

In case this drops off the front page. I'm still putting food on my family. Be back in a bit.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

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

Good for Dan for getting mental health into his open

Glad to see Pat's ideas about local government still at the forefront of his campaign. I've always like that position and it will definitely win a lot of support among county and municipal workers, elected officials, etc. It's an important issue and he's a great spokesperson for it.

Gordon should be happy.

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.

I'm happier

Kudos to Besse and Smathers for acknowledging our mental health crisis.

Scrutiny Hooligans -

I'm a big Pat Smathers fan

But his "local leadership statewide" slogan makes me think scary things about runaway municipal school boards and paramilitary minded sheriff's departments. I'd like to hear him better explain what impact he feels that putting his slogan into practice would have on actual governance.

Best wishes, Team Smathers!

Why I trust local leadership

I am often asked this question, and it's a fair one. Thank you for giving me the chance to address it here on BlueNC.

We all know people who have held local leadership positions who we wouldn't consider ideal local leaders. But in most cases, those people don't stay in their positions for very long. That's because accountability is strongest at the local level. It's hard to fool folks who sit in your pew at church or stand in line with you at the grocery store.

I also believe that by supporting and empowering our local leaders, we can attract still better people to public service. Once local leadership becomes strong, strong candidates will become local leaders.

Bullydoc, thank you for asking, and many thanks to DrFrank for jumpstarting this discussion. I greatly appreciate the work you did tonight to share all four candidates' views with voters from across North Carolina.

With best wishes, I am sincerely,

Pat Smathers

Thanks, Pat!


Great answer, another question

Mr. Smathers,

Thanks so much for joining us. I have one question which isn't related to anything here, but which given your personal experience, I'd really like your take on.

Growing up in Asheville, the name Canton meant two things to me: smelly air and a polluted river. I won a couple of science fairs in middle school and early high school running around WNC testing water quality above and below various industrial sites, and the one I started out on was the Champion plant. At the time, the environmental impact the plant had on the surrounding area was simply unconscionable.

But in the last 20 years, I've watched as North Carolina's manufacturing sector, including some pretty bad polluters, have packed up and gone elsewhere, leaving hundreds of towns across the state in economic shell shock. I've seen this so many times, both here and in my mother's home town in southeastern Arkansas, that I can't listen to Iris Dement's "Our Town" any more without choking up a bit.

A recent report showed that while the Canton plant has improved over the years and is in environmental compliance on the Pigeon River, it's in compliance with a very weak code, and is still having environmental impact. At the same time, the plant has only barely kept its economic head above the water, threatening to close several times in the past decade, which would of course economically devastate Canton.

As the primary leader of Canton, and as the would-be second-in-command of North Carolina, how do you balance this?


Thanks. I have been waiting for someone to ask me this question. I do not think anyone running for statewide office in this election cycle is in a better position than me to answer this question. I know first-hand the dilemma of weighing quality of life issues caused from living in a polluted environment against the regional and local dependence of good, high paying manufacturing jobs. As a boy, I clearly remember when black ash spewed from the smokestacks, and a putrid sulfur smell was present day and night. No joke, below the mill, the river was so polluted with chemicals that dog owners would make their dogs swim in the river to cure mange. Based upon what I have both observed and participated in, if this type of problem is approached directly, honestly, and with a sense of reasonableness, one can both improve the environment and maintain a community’s economic viability.

The specific answer to your question is in the question itself. It is "BALANCE.” Local, state, and federal government leaders, as well as business entities have to work together to make it happen. All have to be committed, either voluntarily ("carrot") or by regulation ("stick"). It requires that those involved have good "judgment,” a primary attribute of leadership. The goal has to be a clean environment, but attain it without complete economic ruination. It can be done, and Canton is a good example.

As a proud Mayor, let me update you on the current situation. Environmentally, the mill complies with the current regulations. Air pollution is much improved, though there are days when the odor does return for brief periods near the mill. It is nothing like it used to be. Though greatly improved, I am not completely satisfied. Two weeks ago, I met with a mill representative and discussed the very issue. The river is also much improved. I trust you are aware that not only has the ban on eating fish below the river been lifted, but game and other fish are now being restocked. However, just like the air situation, no one concerned about the environment can or should be completely satisfied with the situation. While Canton has been designated a "Cool City" by the Sierra Club and the mill itself has received recognition for its efforts, we have more work to do.

The other good news is the continued economic viability of the mill. It became apparent in the mid-nineties that the mill was either going to be sold or shut down. This would have been economically devastating, not only to Canton, but your hometown of Asheville, and to all of Western North Carolina. (It was then and I think still is the largest manufacturing employer in the area) Instead of walking away the employees of the mill, working with local leaders and state agencies, purchased the mill and formed Blue Ridge Paper Company. Even when heavily impacted by the floods of 2004 and tough economic times, the company has survived. I highly recommend that you read Under the Workers’ Cap by George W. Loveland. This book chronicles how the employees and the union worked to save their jobs with the formation of Blue Ridge Papers. It is a great example of what can happen when you empower local leaders like the ones in Canton who saved the mill. The latest news is that within the last few months, Blue Ridge Papers was purchased by a larger packaging company headquartered in New Zealand which is going to provide it with a much stronger capital base and future. This has been a true success story!

The type of leadership I have described here is exactly what I will do as Lt. Governor. I will use good judgment with a "carrot and stick" approach so we can have a cleaner and safer environment, while also having good jobs for working men and women. To those of you in my hometown of Canton and Western North Carolina, rest assured I will continue to work on our air and water issues as Mayor until inaugurated as Lt. Governor, and then thereafter in a manner that our jobs are protected, but the environment continues to improve. I will accept nothing else.

And MTBinDurham, thanks for being a local leader at an early age and helping make people aware of the problem.

A fantastic answer, thanks!


Anglico, please set me up a second post

"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

Sorry about your old house, Dr. Frank.

But how about some specifics on the devaluation of your old house out by the airport?

We'll put that number on one side of the scale. On the other side we'll place the thousands of jobs that the Fed-Ex hub will bring to the Triad. Deal?

Dont eve get me started on that one

I didnt live "out by the airport" - I lived in a thriving community in North High Point. That facility will send planes over that area, and that city, which is the red headed stepchild of the Triad, every 3 minutes from 1 am to 5 am. You want to sleep through that?

And it will do it without adequate compensation or study of the effects on residents.

That was a railroad job. Not an airport.

But emough of my personal opinions.

"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

yikes, regardless of economic impact, that stinks.

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.

Fantastic summary, Dr.

Sorry I left you hanging. Had to run out for a small family crisis.

I love this!

I wish I'd been able to read it live, but it's great to see it the day after.

Great work, DrFrank.

Scrutiny Hooligans -