As I said in my statewide letter, “Major Differences on Major Issues” (available at www.HD08.com/differences), I have great personal respect for all of my opponents in the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor, despite our differences on policy matters. But I believe that voters need to know where the candidates stand on those issues, which is why I explained some of the major differences between me and an opponent on such fundamental matters as abortion rights, death penalty reform, affirmative action, and environmental protection.
My hope was that Mr. Dalton would respond by explaining and defending the merits of his positions on those key issues. Instead he has interpreted my explanation of our differences as an “attack.” I want to keep the focus where it belongs—on the issues—so let me reiterate: I respect Walter Dalton’s public service. But on issues like the execution of the mentally retarded, the protection of the environment, affirmative action, and safeguarding women’s reproductive rights, I believe it is important and fair to point out where he has fallen short of the progressive leadership that North Carolina needs and Democrats expect.
I am glad to hear Mr. Dalton say that he is now pro-choice. I hope he is, and I hope that others will rally to protect the imperiled right to choose. But the fact remains that in his most recent candidate questionnaire—which he left uncorrected until I pointed it out earlier today—he opposed Roe v. Wade’s essential requirement that a woman’s health be protected throughout pregnancy, and said that he would deny, expect in the narrowest of circumstances, any reproductive rights after the first trimester.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Mr. Dalton acknowledged in response to my letter the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that a woman’s right to privacy predominates the issue of abortion. But he also said, “As a matter of personal preference I don’t know that I would go that far.” (“Candidates for Lieutenant Gov. Clash,” Charlotte Observer, 11/27/07). Agreeing to follow decisions of the current Supreme Court is not the same as being pro-choice, particularly now that the Supreme Court has begun to limit reproductive rights. Since we can no longer count on the Supreme Court to protect women’s constitutional right to choose, the power to preserve that right is increasingly in the hands of state leaders. Voters deserve to know whether a candidate consistently supports the right to choose. I have.
Unlike Mr. Dalton, I don’t see a discussion of the policy differences between candidates as the “worst aspect of the campaign season.” I think it’s one of the best. Voters deserve to know the differences between candidates on critical issues that impact their lives, and I’m not afraid to discuss them. Nor do I think it is “sad” that we disagree. I simply believe that my progressive positions on these fundamental issues are better for North Carolina and for the Democratic Party. I look forward to a fair and open discussion
-- including during a BlueNC-sponsored candidate Live Blog! -- of those issues and others during the course of this campaign.