Dellinger to Dalton: Policy Differences Are Not the "Worst" Part of Campaigns; They're the Best

As I said in my statewide letter, “Major Differences on Major Issues” (available at, 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.



This response is pretty close to perfect as far as I'm concerned. I hope candidates everywhere are taking note: It is possible to push back firmly, while maintaining a clear focus on the issues.

Well done.


I told y'all.

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

I'll second that bravo.

Well done, indeed, Mr. Dellinger. Thanks for keeping the tone high.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Great Job Hamp!

I couldn't agree more. Hampton kept the focus on the issues - exactly what Mr. Dalton was trying to distract us from. And he kept the tone respectful - great job Hamp!

Thats the thing

Dalton has a voting record. Besse and Smathers have records of public statements from the campaigns for their current positions.

For Hampton all we have is his assertions.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

So you're saying we should only elect people

who've held public office before and have records of public statements?

Well, that would have sucked for John Edwards when he ran for Senate, eh?

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I don't have a dog in this fight at this time, but for me

personally, I am always looking forward to hearing from new Democratic candidates. Sometimes that is absolutely what is needed to freshen up the policies in our State / Country.

I'm glad Hampton is running and being very straight forward with his ideas.

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

Thats not what I am saying at all

Its just that in a fight over who has been a better Democrat for longer Hampton is short on a history for people to look towards. Nothing more than that.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Sheesh, I gotta get Edwards off my profile picture...

It's not that I think that public office should be a prerequisite for running. It's just that Dalton's vast record presents a bigger target than Hampton's comparably smaller one, and that while we can scrutinize Dalton's record (and we should, and shall) we can merely take Hampton at his word.

Now believe you me: Hampton's platform is so remarkably close to my own that I feel like I could have written it myself. I can't find a thing wrong with it.

But as we know, I like Dan Besse. I'm volunteering my time and energies to his campaign. What I really like about Dan is that I can look at Dan's life and see the choices he's made professionally. From these choices I can draw conclusions about the man's views on the Progressive issues I think are important . For instance, I like that he left UNC law school and stepped immediately into grassroots environmental advocacy. Tells me he cares about my ecology in a solid and demonstrable way. His next big career move was into the burgeoning field of legal aid for poor families in some of the poorest counties in the east. Again, the record tells me that this man is committed to the equality issues he mentions in his platform. Add to that his long involvement with Planned Parenthood. Add to that his unceasing and vocal support for green initiatives (like smart building) and fair hiring practices in his role as an elected official.

When several candidates for the same office are all espousing my beloved progressive platform, I look at their record. I trust the one with the long, unbroken and demonstrable record of service. Then my vote isn't such a leap of faith.


Hampton does have a public record; it's just not one of votes. He's been in public service for a long time - most of his adult life, if I'm correct. It's not as easily searched as a voting record, but it can be found.

I have honestly not made up my mind in the LG race. I like Smathers, Besse, and Dellinger. I don't think Dalton can win my vote. But who knows.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

On voting records or lack thereof:

Betsy brings up a good point above, that one Senator John Edwards had no voting record to dig through when he ran for US Senate in 1998. At the same time, I think Blue South and Bullydoc, who support other candidates, ask a good question - how do you measure the worth of a candidate who doesn't have the "right" voting record.

I'll tell you one measuring stick that I use, lack of weaniness. Dalton saying he voted against a bill to get a "better" bill reminds me of a certain candidate I truly don't like because he swears he voted present seven times on "Choice" bills for much the same reason.

To me, the days of weanie candidates are over. Now, this doesn't exclude anyone but Dalton in my mind.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.


We've had enough "weaniness" - at state and federal level. We need adults who have their own ideas and can stand up to bullies.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi


Understanding where candidates are on the issues is critical, and I look forward to the debate.

I'd like to know where all the candidates are in regard to the proposed Cliffside coal fired plant and on the issue of a moratorium for coal fired plants.

Dan Besse responded on the Cliffside issue, I'd like to hear from the candidates for LG, Governor, and all rest...will they make climate change a priority and be willing to take the strong action needed to avoid the worst outcome of unchecked warming? Actions including a moratorium on coal fired plants, serious investment in renewable & green technologies, stronger renewable, conservation, CAFE & building standards, etc?

thanks and keep pushing!

You know how I feel about making action to deal with climate change a priority. I'll fight to get the good recommendations from the state's Climate Action Plan Advisory Group (on which I serve) implemented.

Dan Besse
Democrat for Lieutenant Governor

Dan Besse

Not to get in the middle of this...

but I know all four of the candidates in the LG's race. All of them are good Democrats. I usually side with the candidate that best represents me, on issues important to me. A persons voting record does come in to play in my decisions when I vote, but a persons lack of a voting record does not oddly enough. I like fresh faces.

What I do know about Hamp (and correct me if I am wrong) is that he was legal council for Gov Easley. I also know he was openly running for the AG's office and said that if Roy Cooper didn't stay in the race for Gov. and wanted to run for the AG's office he would back out of the race based on the respect he had for Roy. So a lot of people say things. Hamp actually stepped away from the AG's race when Roy decided to run for AG instead of Gov. That tells me he is a man of his word. I have always been told that if you can't take a man at his word, then what can you take him at?

What I know about my experiences with Sen Dalton have to do with his MySpace legislation. I didn't particularly carfor the way the MySpace legislation was written. It had put the responsibility of protecting internet users on the users and their guardians/parents. I spoke with Sen Dalton about how I felt and my recommendations are being heard loud and clear. I recommended that the principal of the bill was in the right place but framed to put the responsibility on the innocent and the victims. I suggested that the bill be written to make predators on the web responsible. Static IP addresses required and expansion of the Sex Offenders Registry to include these predators. I also suggested that, like a breathalizer machine in a car for DWI offenders, there could be an IP tracking device put on the criminals machines. We can tap my e-mails, my phone calls, etc..but we can't keep track of the real criminals? I also told him that putting the responsibility on parents who already aren't parenting is not going to change anything. He liked my suggestions and is going to work on the bill more for the next session. He is also going to work on stalking/ cyberstalking legislation to improve upon the current statutes. At least that is what he has told me.

I like Dan Besse a lot as well. He is at every event. He is a ethical politician. Not to mention that he had the dishonor of sitting on the Winston-Salem city council with none other then Vernon Robinson. His platform is strong and I have a lot of respect for him.

Mayor Pat Smathers is also at every event. He is a super nice guy who fights for the little guy. He is running a grassroots campaign and I respect him greatly as well. His son Zeb is a friend and a great asset to his campaign. I can see us all talking about Zeb's run in the future for office.

So we have such a good problem here in NC. We have 4 fantastic candidates who are all Democrats. We should cherish the dialogue and may the best man win.

This is not an endorsement of any candidate in the race. As a candidate myself I am staying out of it publicly. I figured I would offer my two cents to add to the discussion.

Jay Ovittore
Candidate- 6th Congressional District

“The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.” Thomas Jefferson

Jay Ovittore

“The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.” Thomas Jefferson

Good insights

Thanks Jay. It's always good to get personal insights about people from those who have met and/or worked with them. (And nice job staying neutral, too!)


PS For those of you who don't know Jay, you'll get the chance to meet him live-blogging here at BlueNC next Monday night at 8 pm. Mark your calendars . . . I'll get a post up about it this weekend.

A little more than 2 cents!

But then - that's appropriate - because for the first time in my memory, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Democrats stepping up to run for office in NC, including yourself, Jay. Thanks for taking on Howard Coble. I'm looking forward to seeing you at many events in Moore County.

I like what you have to say about the MySpace legislation. Great suggestions - especially when you're talking about known criminals. Unfortunately, so many of them use dynamic IP addresses, it's difficult to actually track them. Our law enforcement agencies need to have faster than state of the art technology to keep up with them.

I also want to point out that as Attorney General, Roy Cooper, one of my favorite NC Democrats, has given parents some useful tools to help them deal with the internet with their children and teens.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Thanks for your thoughts and insights into the race.

That STILL doesn't make my choices any easier...
: )

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Given your opinions on various topics...

this endorsement is even another reason for me NOT to like Dalton. I suggest everyone take a meander over to this poster's site to see the things he is writing, then ignore him from that point onward.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.


I realize it isn't fair to Dalton to hold CP's endorsement against him, but it's hard not to. I'm also put off -- almost instantly -- by the way the phrase "North Carolina Values" has been traditionally used by North Carolina politicians.

The worst offenders are usually the GOP, and of the GOP, the fundie religious types. When those folks use the phrase "North Carolina values" what they actually mean is "conservative, regressive, anti-intellectual, emotional and ignorant."

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

Conservative Values.

Pro-birth, pro-death.

Pro-growth, pro-sprawl, anti-planning, anti-taxes to pay for growth.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.