by Wayne Goodwin
I had the honor and privilege to serve as moderator for the recent debate in Fayetteville among the Democratic candidates for Lt. Governor.
Before sharing a few thoughts, it is imperative for me to say this:
North Carolina owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the young folks – the young leaders – comprising the N.C. Federation of College Democrats. They and they alone proposed, coordinated, and have successfully hosted these debates around the State.
Their leadership has done much to educate the electorate about the role of Lt. Governor and what the candidates plan to do if chosen to serve in the role of Chief Executive-in-Waiting. (Frankly, though the duties have been scaled back over the years, most especially when Republican Jim Gardner snagged the post in 1988, the office of Lt. Governor is – and should be – a tremendous bully pulpit. In addition to serving a constitutional role as perfunctory head of the State Senate and as the potential successor if the office of Governor is vacated, the Lt. Governor has the means, ability and – if the typical candidate is elected to the office – energy to make the position into whatever he or she deems is necessary. Perhaps we should discuss this more in a separate post.)
Fayetteville State University proved to be an apropos location for this particular debate.
Well, it is in the center of several issues central to the votes of folks in the Eighth Congressional District and the neighboring Seventh and Second Congressional Districts.
What are those Eighth District issues? In my opinion, they are:
* The impact of the military’s presence on the region’s economy
* How to transition more quickly and more efficiently those Eighth District communities devastated by the loss of manufacturing and textile jobs over the last 15-20 years
* How to provide focused economic development in counties with regularly-high unemployment stats, namely neighboring Scotland and Richmond Counties
* Whether these candidates favor keeping Insurance Commissioner Jim Long as the regulator of auto insurance rates
In addition to the above topics, we covered in detail approximately eight questions plus several from the audience.
And pursuant to the rules, the candidates were allowed rebuttal time as warranted.
Each candidate for Lt. Governor focused on his particular strengths.
Thankfully, there are additional debates remaining in the series so the public – or at least those paying attention this early - will have a “high-def” understanding of whom these candidates are and what their respective candidacies bring to the table.
I encourage visitors to Wayne’s World to check out my earlier posts from October-November 2007 here that provide a summary of what these four candidates are about, how to contact them, etc. On behalf of the Eighth District, these candidates have many thanks for making multiple visits to Richmond, Cumberland, and other counties in this district over the past year. In the last 24 years, it is irrefutable that this is the most attention paid to our area by an array of candidates for this important post. That says a great deal about these Democrats, the promise of the office, and the lasting legacy that Bev Perdue, Dennis Wicker and Jim Hunt have left from their service as Lt. Governor.
In closing, I encourage the four candidates – Dan Besse, Walter Dalton, Hampton Dellinger, and Pat Smathers - and their supporters to share additional thoughts here at Wayne’s World about the debate series and their campaigns so that the Eighth will hear from them once again. Through these continued contacts, voters will have no excuse for not knowing whom they should cast a ballot for in the May 2008 primary.