TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2004
Candidates get set
for auditor election
BY BROOKE ERICSON
Republican Les Merritt will once
again challenge Democrat Ralph
Campbell today for Campbell’s
position as state auditor.
Merritt lost to Campbell in 2000
after receiving 49.5 percent of the
votes, but this year his campaign
director, Frank Williams, says the
team is more organized and pre
pared to win.
Campbell was first inaugurated
as state auditor Jan. 9,1993, and
became the first black man to win
a statewide elected office. He was
re-elected in 1996 and 2000.
The state auditor serves as the
public’s watchdog because it is his
or her job to make sure tax money is
being spent well.
This involves examining and
publishing findings and recommen
dations for every state department
and agency, including the UNC sys
tem, the community college system
and Superior Court clerks.
Grace Beaman, Campbell’s cam
paign director, said Campbell has
done his duty as the state auditor,
even in difficult situations.
“He has gone into an agency,
regardless of who the person is,
done what he’s had to do and made
some tough audits,” she said. “He’s
done what he was required, expect
ed to do and played no favorites.”
She said Campbell’s honesty and
determination have made him a
“I personally am proud of the
fact that he has been so honest,
so up-front, so intent on doing his
duty and that he has not let any
thing deter him from that,” Beaman
said. “I’m just proud of the whole
12 years, to be honest.”
But Williams said he is less
impressed with Campbell’s work
as auditor and said more needs to
If people are completely satis
fied with the way the government
is spending its money, he said, they
should re-elect the current auditor.
But if not, new leadership must be
brought to the table.
“The current auditor has been
more reactive then proactive,”
One of Merritt’s major goals is to
prevent problems from happening
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Incumbent Ralph Campbell will
take on Republican Les Merritt in
a rematch of the 2000 election.
in the first place.
His other campaign promises
include following through with his
recommendations and taking poli
tics completely out of the process.
Williams said Merritt is working
to make sure tax dollars are being
spent more effectively. He said
Merritt has written a business plan
that will make the state auditor’s
role more like a business and less
like a political scene.
“Merritt wants a position where
he can make a difference,” he said.
While both candidates have dif
ferent platforms and approaches
to the position, their qualifications
make them strong candidates for
Campbell received his bachelor’s
degree in business administration
from Saint Augustine’s College in
1968 and attended the business
graduate program at N.C. Central
University. After graduating from
school, he served as a Raleigh city
councilman and mayor pro tern.
“He has 12 years of experience
as state auditor and has been an
auditor almost all his life,” Beaman
said. “I think people recognize he
has done a good job.”
Merritt attended N.C. State
University, where he went on to
earn degrees in economics and
accounting, which he used to open
his own small business in 1984.
“Les has been in the business
world and part of a small business,”
He added that having a small
business perspective was an impor
tant aspect of being state auditor.
The candidates currently are
wrapping up their campaigns, both
confident in a positive end result
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Three vying for number 2 spot
Race marked by diverse backgrounds
BY INDIA AUTRY
Democratic Gov. Mike Easley
seems likely to keep the top state
seat, but candidates from three
parties are vying for the secondary
Separate elections for the two
positions are not likely to cause
partisan conflict, candidates say.
Asa member of executive boards
and president of the N.C. Senate,
Democratic Lieutenant Governor
Beverly Perdue said she has worked
independently of Easley during the
past four years.
“The governor and lieutenant
governor serve separately but in
partnership as well,” Perdue said.
“Most of the work is autonomous.”
Her chief rival, Republican law
yer Jim Snyder, said he’d prefer to
see Republican gubernatorial can
didate Patrick Ballantine in office
but would be able to work with
Easley if elected.
“I think dichotomy is a good
thing,” he said. “In the end, each
party has to come together. By
having polarities, the truth comes
Christopher Cole, the Libertarian
on the ticket, said he has equal dis
dain for both his possible bosses.
“Easley has more plans to spend
my money, and Ballantine has more
plans to run my life,” said Cole, a
contract worker for a Charlotte
Perdue has incumbency and
Incumbent, challenger look to future
Because agriculture is the state’s
leading industry, the race for N.C.
Commissioner of Agriculture is more
important than voters might think.
Commissioner Britt Cobb, a
Democrat, was appointed in June
2003 by Gov. Mike Easley after
scandal rocked the department.
Former Commissioner Meg Scott
Phipps resigned after three former
aides were indicted and charged
with soliciting illegal funds from
carnival companies. Phipps later
was indicted on 28 federal charges,
including extortion and fraud.
the historical success of N.C.
Democrats on her side, but her
opponent is looking to ride on the
coattails of President Bush.
“I’m running along with a sec
ond-term, popular Republican
president,” said Snyder, who
dropped out of the U.S. House
race for the sth District to unify
Snyder expects his political
ties to win him votes, but he’s not
opposed to disagreeing with fellow
Conservatives sometimes get it
wrong, especially when it comes to
the courtroom, said Snyder, who
inherited a multifaceted Lexington
law firm from his father years ago.
He said Republicans’ distaste for
trial lawyers contradicts their
desire for justice.
“Republicans love the
Constitution, right?” said Snyder,
author of the recently released
book, “The Conservative Mind.”
“Then why don’t they revere a
lawyer who’s trying to provide for
a child injured by a drunk driver?
Republicans love (district attor
neys) who prosecute criminals.”
He said that he is a devoted con
servative committed to smaller
government, military might and
getting rid of abortion —but that
he enjoys giving Republicans new
perspectives and being edified by
“I love to talk with Democrats,”
he said. “I could change my mind
Cobb began his term as the
department was under a cloud
of scrutiny. “I had to make some
changes,” he said.
He said he views bringing cred
ibility back to the Department of
Agriculture as one of his greatest
As Phipps’ trial came to a close,
Cobb began to focus on the four
topics he thinks are of greatest
importance to North Carolinians.
He has stressed environmental
conservation, protecting the state
from foreign diseases, expanding
markets for produce and enforcing
consumer protection laws. “I want
to see us become more diversified
(in product) ... to move from com
modity to value-added goods.”
On the environmental front,
Cobb supports the N.C. Million
Acre Initiative, which aims to bring
1 million new acres of the state’s
habitat under protection by 2009-
He also implemented the Integrated
Pest Management Program, which
decreases the amount of pesticides
used in schools.
“I think we have laid a good
2 battle for top insurance position
BY JAMES EDWARD DILLARD
Jim Long has found a career in
Long, a Democrat, was first
elected state commissioner of
insurance 20 years ago. In 2000,
he won his fifth consecutive term.
As commissioner, he has been
responsible for regulating the
insurance industry, upholding the
building code and regulating the
manufactured housing industry.
But this year his tenure is being
Robert Brawley, the Republican
candidate, has served for 32 years
in the insurance business and spent
nine two-year terms, from 1981 to
1998, in the N.C. House. He says
some changes need to be made.
“We’ve got to do more to make
health care affordable,” Brawley
Affordability is also on Long’s
“The real issue is the affordabil
ity of health insurance,” Long said,
adding that his office has saved
people $3.6 million through the
rates it has set.
In addition to this, Long said
the state auto insurance rate is the
eighth lowest in the country.
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if somebody could debate with me
sometimes, or at least modify my
Perdue avoided partisan labels
when describing her most valued
work as lieutenant governor
decreasing teenage smoking.
“In one’s life, there’s very little
opportunity to actually feel like
you’ve saved a life,” said Perdue, a
former health care professional. “I
hope a teenager has heard about the
dangers of smoking and will per
haps stay alive a little bit longer.”
The battle against smoking is one
many politicians have sacrificed to
special interests, Perdue said. “No
other elected official has taken on
tobacco because tobacco has been
king of the state for a long time.”
Perdue said her disgust for the
government’s neglect of the sick
and elderly led her to 14 years in
the state legislature.
If Perdue wins today, the two
term limit for lieutenant governors
would prevent her from running
again, but she said she’s unsure of
“My only high aspiration right
now is to provide for the folks in the
state who believe in me with a good
day’s work and make a difference.”
A Tar Heel sports fan with ties
to UNC within her blended fam
ily, Perdue said she is dedicated
to improving the state’s education
retaining good teachers, hold
ing educators more accountable
and training community college
students for jobs while keeping
“It’s paramount to me,” said
foundation and a good base,” said
Cobb, who plans to build on that
base if elected to four more years
Republican challenger Steve
Ttoxler, a farmer himself, believes
the biggest issue that needs to be
addressed by the agricultural com
missioner is something more central
to the forming community—the loss
of the traditional farm industry.
“The thing that we are dealing
with daily is we are losing family
farms, we are losing the next gen
eration of farmers,” he said.
In a letter on his Web site,
Troxler mentions the decline in
agricultural profits as a major con
cern for all North Carolinians.
“The dramatic decline in farm
revenues during the last few years
has added significantly to our
state’s budget woes,” he wrote. “A
strong agricultural economy is vital
to the overall financial health of our
entire state and its families.”
TVoxler has served on the board
of directors of the North Central
Farm Credit Association and as
director of the Tobacco Growers
Still, Brawley believes there is
much more that needs to be done.
He said he would begin his
tenure with a performance audit,
the office’s first since Long took
Brawley also wants to shift
insurance rates from a “one-size
fits-all” system to a more flexible
scale. This would bring more com
petition into the industry.
He also wants to allow free pre
scription discount cards, which the
current commissioner has ruled
Brawley also questioned the
office’s integrity under Long.
“I think North Carolina current
ly has an insurance crisis because
enforcement at the department has
been... irregular at best,” he said.
Citing incongruity in building
code enforcement, inefficiency in
insurance and inadequacy in the
collection of bail bonds, Brawley
said such problems would be fixed
should he be elected.
But Long said some of the
inconsistencies, especially with
the building code, aren’t the fault
of the state insurance department
but of local officials.
“The building codes (are)
enforced at a local level, not in the
insurance department,” Long said.
Long also said there are other
things his office needs to focus on,
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The 3 hopefuls:
Perdue, a former public school
teacher. “Education equals your
ability to get a good job.”
Snyder also said education is
the key to “attack poverty,” but he
lauded his retirement plan as his
He would give every child a
S7OO account, adding $7 monthly,
leaving them with as much as $3
million by retirement age —a cost
of SBS million for the state and $3
billion for the country, what he
calls “a drop in the bucket.”
Former Democratic N.C. repre
sentative Dan Blue said he backs
the incumbent but is rooting for
her rival’s retirement plan.
Snyder said Perdue is one of only
four people, as far as he knows, to
criticize the idea. “Whether I win or
lose, I want to keep pushing this.”
Contact the State £2 National
Editor at email@example.com.
n — | —1
Incumbent Britt Cobb and GOP
challenger Steve Troxler both
hope to restore dignity to the job.
Association of North Carolina. He
now serves on the State Extension
Troxler notes the recent pas
sage of tobacco buyout legislation,
which he said he helped pass, as
one of his greatest achievements
for the N.C. farming industry.
He also believes the Phipps scan
dal inhibited the current commis
sioner’s ability to address the issues
of agriculture in North Carolina.
“It is time for a breath of fresh
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Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Republican Robert Brawley (left)
and Democrat Jim Long have
dueling priorities for the office.
such as a continued expansion of
information outreach programs.
He said the current informa
tion outreach program for the
elderly, Seniors’ Health Insurance
Information Program, is nation
“It’s been so successful that it’s
now the national model,” Long
Still, Brawley wants a chance
against the longtime incumbent.
“I think I can bring some consis
tency and uniformity.”
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Editor at email@example.com
■ Due to a reporting error, the
Nov. 1 story “Officials warn against
illness” states that 11,019 people at
the University have received the
antibiotic drug Cipro.
It should have stated that 1,119
students received the medicine.
■ Due to a reporting error, the
ballot appearing on page 7 of the
Nov. 1 edition stated that Verla
Insko is running for re-election in
N.C. House District 50. She is run
ning in District 56.
To report corrections, contact Managing Editor
Chris Coletta at firstname.lastname@example.org.