The Republican candidate for governor, Pat McCrory, says he doesnt trust the polls that have shown him with a comfortable lead. Hes keeping his foot on the campaign gas for example, making time to visit The N&O on the morning before his second debate with his opponent, Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton.
Yet as the televised debate played out Tuesday evening, McCrorys approach suggested that he didnt share Daltons sense of urgency.
When the former Charlotte mayor does offer details about his plans, he often leaves himself open to a sharp jab from Dalton, who in the debate again was loaded for bear and gave a good account of himself.
For example, McCrory said he supported two tracks for high school students college prep and vocational. While students should have ample opportunities in either direction, Dalton properly noted the risk that 15-year-olds would be slotted onto one track or the other before they had a chance to figure out what they really wanted to do.
On a larger issue, McCrory continued to maintain that his plan to cut corporate and personal income taxes a key to business recovery, in his view would not mean that sales taxes would have to rise to balance the budget. Dalton framed the numbers in such a way as to leave little doubt that the only option, absent higher sales taxes, would be dramatic spending cuts. And such cuts would jeopardize important state services, especially education.
McCrory keeps his campaign on a civil plane, to his credit, although he gets in his digs at the scandals that have dogged state capital Democrats in recent years.
Dalton bristled at being lumped into a culture of corruption, saying hes been ethically clean. And he tried to knock McCrory down a peg in that regard, challenging him on what he described as a conflict of interest that benefitted Duke Energy, for which McCrory used to work. McCrory said he didnt remember the 1994 episode, which led to a case that went to the state Supreme Court.
In his second run for governor, McCrory is practiced at swatting away criticism and talking up his own agenda. Dalton, forceful and specific, is giving him all he can handle.