DURHAM — North Carolina’s two candidates for governor began the final week of the campaign a study in contrasts.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, the state’s lieutenant governor, was on the attack and raising money, hoping a final surge would allow him to close what the polls suggest is a wide gap with his GOP opponent.
Meanwhile, a buoyant Republican Pat McCrory, the former Charlotte mayor, hit a diner and a local GOP headquarters and warned his supporters against overconfidence.
Speaking to the General Baptist State Convention, Dalton said McCrory would be “a rubber stamp” for a Republican legislature that would pass bills opposed by African-Americans, such as requiring photo IDs for voting, ending early voting and repealing the Racial Justice Act, which allows death row inmates to appeal based on racial statistics of juries.
He said McCrory’s policies would increase the cost of health care to women and would remove the taxes on corporations and raise them on the middle class and senior citizens.
“We need leaders in this state who will represent all people,” Dalton told about 200 people at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel. “Martin Luther King said that our lives end on the day that we remain silent on the things that matter. Education matters. Opportunity and equality matter. Children matter. This election matters.”
“I liked the fact that he talked about inclusiveness, about us helping one another,” said Bishop Melvin Walker of St. Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Havelock. “That is what it’s going to take for this country.”
During the final week, Dalton is hitting early voting sites, doing local media interviews, and attending final fundraisers, including one Tuesday night in Charlotte headlined by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear.
He downplayed polls showing him trailing McCrory by double-digit margins, saying they don’t reflect a surge in early voting by Democrats, new Democratic registrants, or those who own cellphones instead of land lines.
McCrory is hitting the small towns. On Tuesday, he stopped in at the Dixie III restaurant in Asheboro and the Lee County GOP headquarters in Sanford.
“He’s better looking than he shows on TV,” said Dan Cox, a retired textile executive, who McCrory briefly joined for a chat at the restaurant.
Cox said he planned to vote for McCrory, because he thought he did a good job as mayor.
In Sanford, McCrory warned a couple of dozen Republican Party activists against complacency.
“I want you to know that we can’t take this election for granted,” he said. “I do not trust the polls. We have got to work until the polls close on Tuesday.”
McCrory, who was the GOP nominee in 2008, praised the Republican get-out-the-vote effort.
“In 2008, we were kind of blindsided by what the other side was kind of doing on the ground,” McCrory said. “But we are not getting blindsided now.”
McCrory said he thought voters were responding to his positive message.
He asked the crowd what they were hearing.
“The first bill you should sign is voter ID,” suggested one woman. Several others said “stop this early voting.”
“I want to continue some early voting,” McCrory replied, “but we need to make sure it’s done right.”