Dalton debates empty chair at NAACP forum

McCrory skips NAACP forum for Fair, rally

rchristensen@newsobserver.comOctober 13, 2012 

— With shades of Clint Eastwood, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton debated an empty chair at a state NAACP forum Saturday.

Since his Republican opponent, Pat McCrory, decided to skip the forum, Dalton portrayed the former Charlotte mayor as someone who as governor would go along with the agenda of the Republican-controlled state legislature.

With two chairs set in front of the audience – one labeled McCrory – Dalton, frequently criticized his opponent as “this empty chair.”

Dalton, the state’s lieutenant governor, said he opposed many of the cuts instituted by the GOP legislature during the budget shortfall – particularly cuts to the public schools, community colleges, universities, student loans and health care. “This empty chair supported all of that,” Dalton told the audience at the North Raleigh Hilton.

“He was a fan of George W. Bush,” Dalton said. “He supported everything that’s going on in the General Assembly. If he is elected governor, he will be rubber stamp for all of these Draconian policies.

“He would be for the repeal of the Racial Justice Act,” Dalton said.

The Racial Justice Act, passed by the legislature in 2009, allows death row inmates to appeal their sentences based on statistical proof of racial bias. The measure was overhauled by critics earlier this year; their opponents said it was gutted.

“He would support voter suppression laws,” he said, referring to Republican support for bills requiring voter photo ID bills, which is strongly opposed in the black community.

“He would support vouchers for private schools. And he did support those cuts for education and economic development,” Dalton said. “I will not be a rubber stamp for anyone. I will protect the middle class and those wanting to get there.”

McCrory dropped in at the State Fair in Raleigh on Saturday and then attended a fundraiser in Gastonia. A McCrory spokesman noted he has agreed to four televised debates with Dalton. One of those debates is scheduled to be televised by most local stations Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

Racial sensitivity has emerged as an issue in the governor’s race. McCrory ran a commercial featuring an endorsement from Democratic former sheriff Wayne Gay of Wilson County, who had earlier blamed the desertion of black voters for his loss.

The Dalton campaign aired an online video featuring black officials criticizing McCrory as being racially insensitive for using Gay in the ad. The issue prompted one of the sharpest exchanges in their recent televised debate.

Christensen: 919-829-4532

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