Dalton's family, roots shaped his politics

Posted April 10, 2012
Updated April 12, 2012

— The memory of his father led Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton into politics, and his family's influence and his roots in western North Carolina have helped shape his priorities as he campaigns for governor.

Dalton faces former Congressman Bob Etheridge, Orange County Rep. Bill Faison, Harnett County physician Dr. Bruce Blackmon, Matthews college student Gary Dunn and retired federal government auditor Gardenia Henley for the Democratic nomination in the May 8 primary.

Charles Dalton, who died when his son was only 8, served in the North Carolina Senate in the late 1940s. Walter Dalton remembers a letter his father received thanking him for getting a road built in Rutherford County.

"I thought it was really powerful, and I saw the benefits of public service," Dalton said Monday.

The high school quarterback went on to earn undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, start a law practice and raise a family.

Then, like his father, he ran for the state Senate, winning election in 1996. After 12 years in the General Assembly, he took his campaign statewide and won the race for lieutenant governor.

"I am somebody who can work with other people. I have a history of using common sense and good judgment," he said.

Dalton has focused his political efforts on education initiatives, such as one that bridges high school and college programs. He sees job creation and education investment as closely tied.

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton Moderate Democrat Dalton hasn't always backed liberal causes

Toward that end, he said, he supports the 0.75-cent increase to the state sales tax rate that Gov. Beverly Perdue has lobbied for in recent months to restore education spending that lawmakers cut last year.

"When you fix it, don't lose site of your future, and you can do great damage if you lose site of that future," he said. "That, I'm afraid, may have happened this year."

Dalton bills himself as a moderate Democrat, and he hasn't always backed liberal causes.

He co-sponsored a 2005 bill to ban gay marriage in North Carolina, although he now opposes the proposed amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

"It's far too broad. It's going to affect health care plans," he said to explain his opposition.

He was the only member of the North Carolina Community College System board to vote in 2009 against admitting illegal immigrants.

In the current heated debate over natural gas drilling in North Carolina, he is taking a wait-and-see approach.

"It may be an option that we embrace in the future, but we do need more study," he said.

In the race for governor, Dalton said he hopes voters will study him more.

"I know the great energy that this state has. I know the resilience of its people. They need to know that I can lead them to that better future," he said.


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  • RaleighPirate Apr 11, 2012

    Is WRAL doing this for all of the candidates? If not they should be IMHO.

  • Lucas Turner Apr 11, 2012

    A true politician whose position changes with the wind. Voted for the ban on same sex marriage in 2005 and now is for it. Dalton wants those Gay votes now. Didn't need them in Western NC. Supports raising taxes for education by 0.75%. Why don't they just fix the inefficient DOT, ESC and Revenue Departments. That will save the .75. I guess NC is so broken its easier to raise taxes than fix something. One hundred years of inefficiency.His position on Natural Gas drilling is wait and see. We need leadership, management, and someone who will not wait and see but take action. Dalton does not seem to fit the mold.

  • I-40 Warrior Apr 11, 2012

    "I hope Mr Dalton paid for this political add I do not see the same size articles posted for all the other candidates" - sunshine1040

    Thank you!! I was almost in disbelief when I saw this. I'm sure he's a nice guy and maybe I'll even read the articles, but the whole thing on the surface basically screams, "Please vote for Dalton!"

  • driverkid3 Apr 11, 2012

    alton says this:::I have a history of using common sense and good judgment,"

    If that's true, he would be a Republican.

  • deactivate Apr 11, 2012

    Who is this? Some people are just invisible.

  • piratepeople2 Apr 11, 2012

    so , what exactly has Walter Dalton done for the citizens of NC???

  • WHEEL Apr 11, 2012

    If anything he is less impressive than Bev and she has run the most disasterous term that NC has seen since reconstruction when they broke the Capitol steps rolling beer barrels up and down.

  • sunshine1040 Apr 10, 2012

    I hope Mr Dalton paid for this political add I do not see the same size articles posted for all the other candidates