Republican governor candidates face off

March 13, 2008 6:47:30 AM PDT
ABC11 WTVD hosted a one hour debate between the four Republican candidates in the governor's race Wednesday night. This as we prepare to go to the polls for the primary election on May 6th.

Senator Fred Smith, Salisbury attorney Bill Graham and former Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr each tried to lay out differences with McCrory.

Orr accused McCrory of believing it's the task of government to create jobs. Smith tried to portray himself as the conservative in the race, while Graham called himself the true outsider.

McCrory says he has the best chance of winning in November.

The four candidates and Democratic candidate Richard Moore participated education forum in Greensboro earlier yesterday.

With eight weeks to the Republican Primary for Governor of North Carolina, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory continues to lead State Senator Fred Smith and businessman Bill Graham, who continue to be tied for 2nd place, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WTVD-TV. One month ago, McCrory led by 17 points, now by 8. McCrory has lost ground in Raleigh/Greensboro, and in southern and eastern NC, where he now runs 4th in both regions, at 9%. McCrory's entire base of support is concentrated in Charlotte, where he is 42 points atop his nearest challenger. Among moderates, Graham has caught McCrory. Among voters age 50+, Smith has closed to within 6 of McCrory.

16% Graham
12% Orr
26% McCrory
18% Smith
28% Undecided

Background on the candidates

Bill Graham is an attorney and conservative activist from Salisbury. He is a partner at the Wallace and Graham Law Firm. Graham received statewide attention in 2006 when he led a grassroots effort to have North Carolina cap its gasoline tax.

Graham is a native of Harnett County and received his bachelor's of art degree from Catawba College and his law degree from Wake Forest University.

Graham is married and has two children.

Pat McCrory is in his seventh term as mayor of Charlotte. He grew up in Jamestown outside High Point.

McCrory received his bachelor of arts degree from Catawba College. After college he went to work for Duke Power.

McCrory was first elected to the Charlotte City Council in 1989 and was re-elected in 1991 and 1993. He was first elected mayor in 1995 and has served longer than any other Charlotte mayor.

Mayor McCrory is married.

Bob Orrr is a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice.

Justice Orr grew up in Hendersonville. He received his undergraduate and law degree from UNC Chapel Hill and practiced law in Asheville for 11 years.

Justice Orr was appointed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 1986. He was elected to that position in 1988 and 1992. He was elected to the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1994 and re-elected in 2002.

Orr retired from the high court in 2004 to head up the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law.

He is married and has four children.

Fred Smith is a state senator representing Johnston and Wayne counties. Smith grew up in Raleigh and earned his bachelor of arts degree from Wake Forest University. He also graduated from the Wake Forest Law School.

After law school, Senator Smith served in the U.S. Army Jag Corps for four years. Besides being an attorney, Senator Smith is also a builder and owns Fred Smith Homes and he's the CEO of CC Mangum - a site development contractor.

Smith was first elected to the state senate in 2002 and was re-elected in 2004 and 2006

.

Senator Smith is married and has five children.


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