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Election: Lt. gov. hopefuls want to help steer N.C.

RALEIGH (AP) ó The race for North Carolina’s lieutenant governor’s post, in many respects, will be a referendum on the work done by Democrats and outgoing Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue.
– Democratic candidate Walter Dalton, a state senator from Rutherfordton, wants to further his party’s initiatives championed by Perdue.
During Dalton’s six terms in the Senate, he has worked with other party leaders to draft the state’s annual spending plan and pass legislative priorities.
Dalton said he has demonstrated he has the expertise to lead the state through shaky economic times. He noted that while other states slashed their budgets and cut services during the economic downturn that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, North Carolina didn’t drastically respond.
If elected lieutenant governor, Dalton said he would like to continue work on the party’s education initiatives, such as raising teacher pay and lowering class sizes. The state needs to “continue to invest in those things that will build the future economy,” Dalton said.
– Republican former state Sen. Robert Pittenger from Charlotte wants to reduce state spending that he says Democrats, including Perdue, have unwisely increased.
Pittenger, who resigned from his third state Senate term in May to campaign, said those Democratic initiatives largely have been failures.
He said there’s no basis to justify increasing the state’s budget by billions over the last few years. Pittenger pointed to the state’s four-year public high school graduation rate, which hovers around 70 percent, as proof the Democrats aren’t effectively spending taxpayer money.
He wants the state to cut taxes and balance the budget and eliminate what he called waste and fraud in Medicaid.
– Libertarian Philip Rhodes says as lieutenant governor, he’d do a better job protecting individuals’ interests. He wants the state to revamp its fiscal policy and quit giving tax breaks to large companies. He said he would also like the state to eliminate cities’ and towns’ ability to involuntarily annex county land ó a plan lawmakers showed some interest in this year but never made law.

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