Lawyers, businessmen vie for top state job

Gubernatorial candidate Dan Barrett, attorney and former Davie County Commissioner, continues his grassroots campaign across the state. Barrett said he is determined to visit all 100 counties. Photo/File

Dan Barrett, one of a group of six Republicans hoping to unseat Gov. Mike Easley, said Wednesday his grassroots campaign is still going strong and he is accomplishing “a little bit at a time.”

The most recent statewide trek for the attorney and former Davie County Commissioner has been from Murphy to Manteo, where he is still finding the main concern for North Carolinians to be jobs and financial security.

“Folks feel like state government is sitting on its hands,” he said.

The candidate, who said he has now raised about $200,000 in campaign funds, talked briefly about the nationwide flap over same-sex marriage.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said. “When I am governor, there will be no same-sex marriage.”

One of Barrett’s campaign promises is to take his message outside of the Raleigh area and into every county in the state.

“The local governments are where the most is done, but we’ve all had a real disconnect with Raleigh,” he said in January, pointing out that the Capital has seized millions of dollars from the local governments and given it to the state. The result being that counties and municipalities have lost a lot of services.

Barrett repeated his call for the creation of an independent commission to draw legislative and congressional district maps in the face of the recent primary delay and Dem-ocratic caucus plans stemming from a lack of certified legislative districts.

“State government needs to change the way it does business,” he said in a release. “The legislature has now spent three years trying to draw district lines. Two primaries, one in 2002 and now again in 2004, have been delayed. We need to create an independent commission to draw district lines so that primaries can be held on time and the legislature can focus on problems facing our state.”

Barrett has now visited over 50 counties.

Candidate Bill Cobey began his campaign against Easley in July 2003. In 1984, he was elected to represent the Fourth District of North Carolina in the U.S. Congress. After serving in Congress, he joined the administration of Gov. Jim Martin, first as Deputy Secretary of Transportation and then as Secretary of the Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources.

Cobey’s past experience includes, management consulting, municipal management and athletic administration. He is a former athletic director at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since 1997 he has worked with local governments in the state, helping them to compete for and receive grants from the federal government.

Cobey, too, has taken a stand on same-sex marriage. He said that as governor, he would advocate and support a bill stating that North Carolina will not recognize gay marriages no matter the state in which the marriage was performed.

Cobey said the biggest challenge the state faces is growing a stable and vibrant economy.

Timothy Cook is a research chemist at a textile wax producing company. He has also done work in producing biodiesel, an alternative fuel source, as well as checking for pesticide residue in animal food sources. He says he cares about the environment and has experience in high tech industry.

Cook lists his objectives as keeping jobs in the state and bringing in more high paying jobs. He would reduce taxes and increase teacher pay by reducing wasteful government spending. A strong advocate of child support, Cook said he would start issuing fines and harsh penalties to companies who do not send the support payments they collect. Another issue would be to negotiate with drug companies for a better prescription drug rate for the state’s citizens.

George Little announced his intention to run against Easley in April 2003. He cited a commitment to bring about change to North Carolina — “changes that grow our economy and provide a better life for all our citizens.”

Little is a small businessman in Southern Pines, operating an insurance brokerage firm. Secretary of Natural and Economic Resources in the Holshouser administration, Little has remained active in civic, educational and political affairs in his home town and across the state.

Little thinks he can win the primary because: “First of all, I’m the best qualified candidate for it based on my experiences and that I’m a businessman. I think I know where the money is and how to get it.”

Little is the only businessman and the only economic developer in the race for governor. He says he was the first candidate to call for a cut in the corporate tax and the elimination of unneeded restrictions on businesses.

Patrick Ballantine is from Wilmington’s ninth district. He has served in the Senate for 10 years and has been the Republican Senate Leader since 1998. He has a wife, Lisa, and a daughter, Wilker.

He said his daughter stands as a reminder that candidates need to think about more than just the next election, they need to think about the next generation.

“Being governor isn’t about age,” said the 38-year-old man. “It’s about experience, drive and leadership. And those are qualities that I’ll gladly match head-to-head with Mike Easley any day of the week.”

North Carolina Taxpayers United, a non-partisan watchdog group that monitors tax and spend legislation, named Ballantine the “Taxpayers Best Friend.” And Citizens for a Sound Economy gave him a “Perfect 100” score.

When not engaged in Senate duties, Ballantine is a practicing attorney.

Fern Shubert has added a stance against Easley’s encouragement of Illegal immigration as one of her top campaign issues in the race to become the next governor of North Carolina. She says Easley’s encouragement of illegal immigration threatens national security and North Carolina’s future.

“Why does he want to help people break the law?” she asked.

Shubert claims the Democrats are raising taxes to pay for their policy of encouraging illegal immigration, and their policy is hurting North Carolina workers and running off jobs.

Shubert is a native North Carolinian. She worked as a CPA for various employers until returning to Union County in 1991 and opening an office in Marshville to practice her profession.

Shubert was elected to the House in 1994, 1996 and again in 2000. She was elected to the Senate in 2002 and was selected as the Minority Whip. Shubert served as co-chair of the Education Issues Study Committee and co-chair of the Education Committee of the N.C. House of Representatives.

“I am the candidate who will roll up Mike Easley’s red carpet for lawbreakers and support those who obey the law rather than those who ignore it,” Shubert said.