Hampton Dellinger Urges Walter Dalton to Reconsider Debate Refusal

I am releasing a public letter (below) to state Senator Walter Dalton. Mr. Dalton is the only Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor who has refused to agree to six debates beginning with a Saturday, January 19th debate in Asheville. I immediately accepted the six-debate proposal when it was first made weeks ago, and have specifically committed to the January 19th debate, a BlueNC-sponsored debate, and others. Mr. Dalton has not committed to even one debate. Here is why he should reconsider….

Dear Senator Dalton:

I write to ask you to reconsider your refusal to join me and other Democratic candidates for Lt. Governor in a series of six statewide debates. No one has to run for Lt. Governor, but those who do have an obligation to debate their qualifications for leading this state through any crisis and on a moment’s notice. Indeed, you have said publicly that the question of who is ready to be Governor should be voters’ first consideration in choosing a Lt. Governor. I agree.

The first debate that you have refused to participate in is scheduled for January 19th in Asheville. I propose that the Asheville debate focus be “Experience,” specifically how the candidates’ respective backgrounds equip them to lead this state.

You and I have different professional backgrounds. My public service has been at the highest levels of the executive branch where I served as the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel and as a Deputy Attorney General. You have held leadership positions in the General Assembly. The two other candidates running have served primarily at the local level. I urge you to reconsider your refusal to participate in the Asheville debate and to join my call for this debate to focus on “Experience.”

The other rationale you have offered publicly for your candidacy is your role in overseeing the state Senate’s budget proposals. I believe there are major differences between us in the budget area as well, both in terms of state government revenue and spending, and the process by which the ratified budget is reached. Given the importance of the state budget to every North Carolinian, I urge you to join in a second debate devoted to this topic.

Beyond debates on “Experience” and the “State Budget,” there are a number of other vital matters that merit debate in light of our differing policy positions. I believe a total of six debates is a reasonable number, enough to allow meaningful, side-by-side comparisons of the candidates while still allowing each of us to meet with voters around the state on an individual basis. I have committed to a “live blogging” debate sponsored by www.BlueNC.com, to a Wake County Democratic Party-sponsored debate, to a debate sponsored by a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) which I propose focuses on education, and to a debate sponsored by a consortium of groups in the fields of mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities. I hope you will participate in these debates as well.

I respect your willingness to serve in public office, and I think voters deserve the chance to hear you debate the merits of your experience and your visions for the future. The best way to give voters what they deserve is to engage in a fair and open discussion of our backgrounds and the issues as all the Democratic candidates for Lt. Governor other than you have agreed to do.

Hampton Dellinger
Democratic Candidate for Lt. Governor


Awesome response

I read a few of your past postings, and you seem like the Behind-the-Scenes person who just gets the job done.

Best of luck Against Dalton. (let's just hope that Democrats vote)

Welcome aboard

Hampton, I'm glad to hear you're with us on the importance of holding issues-oriented debates across the state. I am willing to participate in as many debates as needed for the four of us to share our visions and experience with North Carolina's voters. All of the debates you mentioned sound good to me. Like Dan, I long ago committed to the Wake County debate, and hope other county parties and auxillary groups will schedule similar events: I'll gladly participate in all of them.

But I think we should start with the six debates proposed by the NCFCD. The College Dems have worked awfully hard on this, and I think we should acknowledge their outstanding leadership and service to our party by participating in their forums. Dan and I have already signed on: Are you ready to do the same?

I appreciate you addressing your concerns to Walter, and hope he responds favorably. I believe this is the time for all candidates to demonstrate the responsibility, accountability and openness we expect from our public servants.

I look forward to seeing you in Asheville.


Two important points: Experience, and participation.


I share your hope that Senator Dalton will join us in a series of debates. In addition, there are two points that I'd like to bring up in response to your post.

First, let's be accurate regarding our respective experience. I respect your two years (almost three) spent as counsel within Governor Easley's office. I would respectively suggest, however, that your characterization of my experience as "mostly local" widely misses the mark. It's true that my personal elected experience is local: I have been elected and re-elected as a Democrat against partisan Republican opposition (in a Republican-leaning district) since 2001. In my elected office, I directly represent over 25,000 citizens in my district, in a city of over 220,000. Further, I work on behalf of well over one million residents of the Piedmont Triad region, as Winston-Salem's representative to the Piedmont Triad Partnership economic development organization, and to the Piedmont Triad Early Action Compact for clean air. That's just as a result of my elected office. Unlike Walter, Pat, and myself, you have no experience in elected office at any level.

In appointed offices at the state level, I have served for more than 20 years on North Carolina policy-making boards, including 12 years by appointment of Governor Hunt to the N.C. Environmental Management Commission. I currently serve on the N.C. Climate Action Plan Advisory Group. I hope that I may count these two decades of service in state level, public policy-making roles as significant.

Second, with regard to your well-put challenge to Senator Dalton to join the three of us in debate, I have a suggestion. Your challenge will be stronger when you have finalized agreement to your own full participation in the proposed debate series. If you have a specific conflicting commitment with one or more of the College Democrats' proposed debate times and venues, please let us know. I'm sure that we can find a substitute date that will work. If not, I challenge you to move past tactical indecision and say "yes" to the full series of six debates as proposed. I have. So has Mayor Pat Smathers. Join us.



Dan Besse
Democrat for Lieutenant Governor

Dan Besse

I wont lie

I didnt read the letter. The fact that a candidate attending one event out of six felt the need to rebuke someone attending zero of six was enough for me to ignore your letter.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

To be fair

There needs to be a little more deliberation for this process to work. I think Hamp is on the right track.

Maybe it's been the work doing this, but how is the BlueNC debate going to work? And who would be a capable moderator? AND - why would Dalton show up to a BlueNC debate?

1 Thessalonians 5:21: But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

To tell the truth

I didn't know anything about a BlueNC debate. I know that the idea for a series of debates came up here. I know that there was talk of a combination live-blog/telephone thing, although the logistics of that are frightening to me.

It seems to me that the College Dems are pulling the weight here - and we should support them in doing that. I'll be glad to make a donation to the College Dem chapter in Fayetteville to help support the debate there, and I would ask any and all BlueNC folks to do the same.

And as for urging Dalton to join the debates - Hampton Dellinger ain't the only one.

What are you scared of, Walter? I've met all three of these guys - not one of them looks like they bite. Too hard.

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

You can tilt at the Dalton windmill all you like...

But those of us in the REAL Democratic Party are interested in the action to be had right here. Shifting the focus away from your esteemed colleagues who do their heavy lifting outside the 440 beltway is certainly a clever tactic, but there are still a lot of progressive Democrats to be convinced (except of course THE Progressive Democrats of NC; they've already endorsed someone).

C'mon already. Dalton's going to wake up one day in February and find that the race has left him BEHIND while he was busy covering his...

very clever!

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


So now you're telling me that Ben Franklin, advocate of Wild Turkey - excuse me, the wild turkey - is endorsing Dan?

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

Look Linda, I just run Google image searches

I can't help what comes up when you google Ben Franklin. I didn't invent the internet. What can I say? The man tossed out a lot of maxims. We're still discovering them.

But if you're going to impugn Ben's judgement, you'll find yourself under a very small tent. John Adams will be under it, but nobody else will because nobody wanted to share a tent with John Adams.

Which reminds me of my favorite Franklin/Adams story from the McCullough book:

The journey consumed two days. With the road crowded, progress was slow and dusty. At New Brunswick, the inn was so full, Adams and Franklin had to share the same bed in a tiny room with only one small window. Before turning in, when Adams moved to close the window against the night air, Franklin objected, declaring they would suffocate. Contrary to convention, Franklin believed in the benefits of fresh air at night and had published his theories on the question. "People often catch cold from one another when shut up together in small close rooms," he had written, stressing "it is the frowzy corrupt air from animal substances, and the perspired matter from our bodies, which, being long confined in beds not lately used, and clothes not lately worn ... obtains that kind of putridity which infects us, and occasions the colds observed upon sleeping in, wearing, or turning over, such beds [and] clothes." He wished to have the window remain open, Franklin informed Adams.

"I answered that I was afraid of the evening air," Adams would write, recounting the memorable scene. "Dr. Franklin replied, 'The air within this chamber will soon be, and indeed is now worse than that without doors. Come, open the window and come to bed, and I will convince you. I believe you are not acquainted with my theory of colds.' " Adams assured Franklin he had read his theories; they did not match his own experience, Adams said, but he would be glad to hear them again.

So the two eminent bedfellows lay side-by-side in the dark, the window open, Franklin expounding, as Adams remembered, "upon air and cold and respiration and perspiration, with which I was so much amused that I soon fell asleep."

In the movie version of that scene (HBO is doing it with Paul Giamatti as Adams), they'll cut to the following night: you'll see Franklin adjusting his stocking cap. He notices a draft, pulls up his collar and closes the window.

He was contrary, old Ben. Probably just wanted Adams out of his room.

The great Turkey vs. Eagle debate of 1777 was serious however. Franklin couldn't stand seeing the vacant, preening Eagle selected for the Great Seal of the United States over a bright, common sense bird like the Turkey. It offended, I believe, his deepest sensibilities.

That is one of my favorite books.

I had no idea they were making a movie of it - and despite his reputation - John Adams is one of my favorite founding fathers. Much maligned, is John. Probably deserved.

As for the turkey vs. eagle debate, I know - and I often wonder what we'd be eating at Thanksgiving now if old Ben had won that one.

edited to add:I was not impugning his judgment. I may not yet have made up my own mind - but I can appreciate wisdom when I see it.

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

I know you can!

Looking forward to meeting you at the Fayetteville debate on January 24th!

An added treat.

I'm hoping there will be many new faces to put with names and screen names. I'm looking forward to it.

I'm really looking forward to this debate, and I'm so pleased that Dan Besse and Pat Smathers have taken their obligation to the electorate seriously and committed to being at every one.To actually get to hear what these men have to say, in depth, on the issues and have a chance to make a decision based on that is what I wish we had in every election, every time. To have that in a statewide race is almost too much to be hoped for. Kudos again to the college dems for stepping up to the challenge of organizing this - it can't be easy. But this changes this from a cult of personality thing into a race based on the issues and qualifications of the candidates. To me, one of the qualifications of the candidates is a willingness to participate in these debates. So I guess the field may be limiting itself. Not surprising. :)

I certainly hope to be able to hear all 4 candidates at that debate on January 24. Once again I'm going to encourage Dellinger and Dalton (as if he's reading this) to step up and meet your opponents in honest debate. I really want to hear what you have to say - face to face to face to face.

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

Thanks Hampton --

The NCFCD echoes the remarks of Mr. Dellinger. We sincerely hope that Senator Dalton will join the other three candidates for the debates.

Mr. Dellinger, thank for your response. We applaud the leadership of the candidates.