Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton walked into the heart of his opponent's home turf Tuesday in the race for governor with a campaign appearance at the Charlotte Rotary Club.
Republican Pat McCrory won a record seven terms as Charlotte mayor and presided over big boom years. He's always had strong support from Republicans and Democrats in Charlotte.
So what kind of audience do you think a room full of Uptown business and community leaders would be for the guy trying to beat McCrory?
"Well, it's really hard to answer that, but I would think it's not favorable," said Charlotte Rotary member Dick Reiling, a McCrory fan who recently retired as medical director of the Presbyterian Cancer Center. "I would say that this room is heavily business, leadership and that's what they're looking for."
Business and leadership were the thrust of Walter Dalton's 30-minute speech.
He rattled off his business-centered efforts while in state government and ran quickly through his plans to recruit new businesses to North Carolina and give breaks to those already here.
"I've come out with an economic development plan that refocuses our efforts, retrains our employees for the 21st century," touted Dalton.
But the audience wanted Charlotte specifics: What do you plan to do about these companies South Carolina keeps luring across the Mecklenburg County line?
"Well one thing - I think what you're seeing is any company's that near the border they game the states," said Dalton. "You have to have incentives. People don't like incentives. I don't like incentives. But you have to have that to compete."
He veered quickly into the need for a strong community college system to build the workforce that will attract businesses.
Next question: What about the Monroe Bypass? Environmental groups won a lawsuit forcing the state to redo studies for the proposed toll-road.
"That is regrettable in my opinion," said Dalton. "I'm totally for getting the road completed."
The Rotary Club is decidedly non-partisan and its Uptown Charlotte members were polite, if not effusive. Dalton avoided overt campaign speech. He didn't utter McCrory's name once or offer a single criticism of him. That was out of respect for Rotary, Dalton said after the meeting.
McCrory is scheduled to speak to the Uptown Charlotte Rotary Club on October 23, 2012.