Published: Feb 15, 2012 02:00 AM
Modified: Feb 13, 2012 06:54 PM
CHAPEL HILL - Gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory called for lower taxes, natural gas extraction, offshore drilling and vocational education in a speech to Orange County Republicans Saturday night.
McCrory, a Republican, declared his candidacy Jan. 31, less than a week after Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue announced she won't seek a second term.
The former seven-term Charlotte mayor is making his second bid for governor, following a narrow loss to Perdue in 2008.
"Because all of us worked, we changed the state legislature when we won in 2010. We must take the executive branch to fix broken government and the economy," McCrory told about 200 people at the Annual Lincoln/Reagan Dinner at Sunrise Church.
"The Democrats have held onto the executive branch for 20 years. They will say or do anything to hold onto power. We cannot allow that to happen," he said.
Democrats who have announced they are running for governor include state Rep. Bill Faison, whose District 50 seat represents Orange and Caswell countries; Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton; and former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge.
"We all have friends barely holding onto jobs ... college graduates not getting responses to their resumes and moving back in with parents," McCrory said.
Noting that he finalized his decision to run in October after a long wait to renew his driver's license, he cited the few changes he said have been made at the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles during 40 years as an example of the need to fix government.
"The Democrats want to raise sales taxes and put in the same system that is not working," he said. "They want to give cash to new companies while increasing taxes on existing companies."
McCrory, 55, said he wants to lower taxes on companies that already are in North Carolina.
"To fix the broken economy," McCrory said the state must get into the energy-exploration business and help the United States become independent of other countries.
Extracting natural gas from deposits in several central N.C. counties would bring jobs and boost the economy, he said. He also proposed forming a coalition with South Carolina and Virginia for offshore drilling.Education platform
McCrory said he is passionate about education but vowed, "We will not pour more money into an educational system that is not working."
He said he would set up a vocational education track and a college track in every high school.
"We are not encouraging people to use skill sets to work with their hands," he said. "Let's start showing respect for trade skills to show recruiting employers."
He also stressed the importance of rewarding good teachers.
In a broader view of the economy, he said: "We need to grow things, produce things, build things, and innovate. ... If we're only buying instead of making, we're in trouble in North Carolina.
"Our country is known for building and making things. ... I want to put North Carolina back to work. There is no excuse that we have a high unemployment rate."
Orange County Republican Chairman Bob Randall presented McCrory with a book from the Ronald Reagan Library and said money raised at the dinner would be used to finance local Republican activities.
Before the speech, McCrory said he is an advocate of light rail where it can provide a long-term return on investment and noted that Charlotte started its 15-station light-rail system when he was mayor.Democratic response
In a statement Orange County Democratic Party Chairman Matt Hughes said: "We can think of no better contrast to our party's nominee than Pat McCrory, who has been in lockstep with the GOP majority in the General Assembly since day one."
"McCrory's agenda is one that is fundamentally opposed to progress in North Carolina and includes laying off thousands of educators, restricting a woman's right to choose, moving our state to 49th in education funding, raising taxes on working families, and writing discrimination into our state's constitution."
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