Arratik and I, after loading up with kegs of Caffiend's finest roast, ventured into the blowing snow and made our way to UNC-Asheville's Lipinsky Auditorium for the first of six scheduled debates between the Democratic candidates for Lieutenant Governor. Moderated by NC 11th District Democratic Party Chairman, Luke Hyde, and organized by the NC Federation of College Democrats, the debate allowed too much time for each response and too little chance to compare candidates stances. Each of the four men meandered away from the prescribed questions. They're politicians, after all, and they're going to keep talking if you let them. Very few questions were answered at the Jan. 19th debate, but the ones that were reveal four distinct personalities running on four different records.
The debate was dominated by environment and energy issues, and this being Asheville, that's no surprise. I imagine that each debate will have its own set of pet issues, so I'm hopeful that we'll have a comprehensive picture of each candidate by the end of the series.
Dan Besse certainly came across as the environmental candidate by repeatedly listing his experience on various environmental boards and commissions as well as the progress he's made in Winston-Salem as City Councilman there. Walter Dalton's presentation was rooted in maintaining the status quo. One got the sense that if you like the Easley/Perdue system, you're going to love Walter Dalton. He's the status quo and isn't pretending to be anything else. Dalton was openly contemptuous of Hampton Dellinger, who has decided to attack Dalton on a number of issues while pretending he's in a two-man race. Hampton Dellinger, ambitious and proud, is another stay-the-course candidate. His determination to score some political points against Dalton was off-putting. Canton Mayor Pat Smathers, who got the least time to speak, probably had the most to say. Smathers concentrated his message on advocating that local leaders be empowered through targeted funding and increased decision-making latitude. He also concentrated on integrity, repeating Esse Quam Videri.
What follows is from my notes. Anything not in quotation marks is my blogger's prerogative paraphrase: