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How Faison made his half million personal loan disappear

When state Rep. Bill Faison, a wealthy trial lawyer, was trying to get people to take his campaign seriously back in January, he told reporters that he had loaned his campaign $500,000.

But what he didn't say is that the campaign had repaid nearly all of the loans two days later,  according to a campaign finance report he filed this week.

On January 4th when Faison was mulling a Democratic primary challenge to Gov. Bev Perdue, Faison said he had loaned his campaign a half million dollars. At the time, Faison said the money would go to support Democrats but he refused to provide specifics.

Bill Faison rips into absent Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton

State Rep. Bill Faison isn't afraid to attack his fellow Democratic candidates, as we saw in the three TV gubernatorial debates.

But at the Tri-District Forum in Salisbury last week he launched into a tirade about Lt. Gov Walter Dalton. (Listen to the audio below.) Faison and rival Bob Etheridge attended the voter forum -- but not Dalton, which is apparently a trend on the campaign trail.

The audio below isn't great. But it starts with Faison talking about Dalton missing Board of Community College meetings in 2009, 2010 and 2011. "The guy's not working. Just like he's cutting you today," Faison said. (The siren about 20 seconds into the tape means his time ran out --  but certainly fits Faison's tone.) As for the claims, it's worth a fact check.

Walter Dalton surges to tie Bob Etheridge in Democratic governor's race

A new poll shows a major shift in the Democratic governor's race with Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton erasing rival Bob Etheridge's 11-point lead from a month ago.

The Public Policy Polling survey of Democratic primary voters puts the two frontrunners in a virtual tie with Dalton's 1-percentage-point lead within the poll's 4.4 percent margin of error.

In late March, Etheridge boasted 26 percent in head-to-head matchup with Dalton receiving just 11 percent. But while Etheridge remained essentially in place at 25 percent, Dalton scored a boost to 26 percent by winning previously undecided voters, the polling data shows.

Morning Roundup: Democrats turn up heat in debate, party controversy

The Democratic gubernatorial candidates sharpened their criticisms Tuesday night, drawing more pointed contrasts with each other’s records in the second in a series of televised debates. 

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge heard his congressional record on trade and his tenure as superintendent of public instruction come under fire. Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton found himself defending his attendance record and his advocacy of Democratic causes in the legislature. Read the story here. And get the pundits' take on the debate.

Other headlines:

-- The calls for Democratic Party chairman David Parker to resign snowballed Tuesday, leaving his tenure short on days. Gov. Bev Perdue, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and former Congressman Bob Etheridge all reversed course to call for his ouster after trying to avoid the controversy for days.

The Charlotte Observer is calling it the "April Surprise" and the paper's cartoonist gets in his take on the candidates' reactions to scandal.

Morning Roundup: Democratic debate round 1 ends with little discord

The major Democratic candidates for governor held their first televised debate Monday night, rapping the Republican legislature for education cuts but offering only muted criticisms of one another.

Introducing themselves to what polls suggest is a large number of undecided voters, Lt Gov. Walter Dalton, former Congressman Bob Etheridge and state Rep. Bill Faison spent much of the hour talking about their backgrounds and discussing how they would work to address North Carolina’s high unemployment numbers and help the state regain momentum in education.

Read the full story and see a photo gallery from the debate -- the first of a trio that continues tonight. Click here to see how the pundits rated the night. And check to see if the candidates were telling the truth about the state's economy, tracking and federal transportation money in the N&O's Fact Check.

In other headlines:

--Columnist Barry Saunders: Until the Democratic Party tells everything there is to tell about the harassment allegations and the settlement, many others may get the same impression – that Raleigh is a Democratic den of iniquity. To borrow a phrase from Jay Parmley, let me be clear: What David Parker needs to do is tell why he settled with the alleged victim, why he kept quiet about it and how much money the ex-staffer was paid. Full column here.

Profile: Bill Faison soldiers forward, undeterred

New law school graduate Bill Faison came home from dinner one midsummer night to news from a state trooper that both his parents had been killed in a car crash on their way to the beach. His teenage sister, Teresa, was gravely injured, and another young passenger was hurt.

He had just completed a Bar exam review course that day.

Faison, 65, has a habit of facing challenging circumstances and powering through them, not wavering from his goals. That determination is on display now, as he campaigns for governor despite abysmal poll numbers and the public airing of the messy details of his second marriage. Read the full profile here

Big-name donors line up behind Dalton for governor

Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton is looking to raise thousands of dollars to fuel his gubernatorial campaign in the final weeks before the May 8 primary with a big-name fundraiser on the day early voting starts.

The April 19 event is hosted by Lou and Burley Mitchell. Burley Mitchell is a former N.C. Supreme Court Justice who serves on Gov. Bev Perdue's judicial nominating commission.

Hosts for the event gave $4,000 and the cheapest ticket costs $100. Other big names on the list include a number of prominent Democratic lawyers, such as Wade Smith, Eddie Speas, Robert Zaytoun, Josh Stein and Mack Paul. (Read the full list below the jump.)

What did Democratic candidates for governor look like in college?

The N.C. Digital Heritage Center pulled the college yearbook photos for the three major Democratic candidates for governor, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton (left), state Rep. Bill Faison (middle) and former Congressman Bob Etheridge (right). The blog couldn't find an image of Pat McCrory, the likely Republican nominee. Read more here.

Democratic candidates for governor prepare to launch TV ads

The Democratic campaigns for governor are preparing to launch an ad war later this month. With early voting starting in two weeks and the primary about 35 days away, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton has apparently reserved time on broadcast TV from April 17 to May 7 for an ad campaign. GOP operatives report the buy is starting at $315,000.

Dalton's campaign refused to confirm the numbers or talk about its TV strategy. But the advertisement is apparently not yet filmed.

His rival Bob Etheridge, who is showing an early lead in the polls, recently filmed his first ad of the campaign. It is expected to hit the airwaves later this month, the campaign says. The former congressman hired consultant Steve Murphy to produce the ads.

Morning Roundup: Democrats focus on McCrory, not each other

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge and state Rep. Bill Faison spoke to nearly 200 members of the Young Democrats of North Carolina at their state convention at the Blake Hotel. They did little to differentiate themselves but kept the focus on the likely Republican nominee instead. Read full story here

In other news:

--Tens of thousands of North Carolina businesses are putting their employees at risk by failing to buy workers’ compensation insurance, a violation of the law that’s driving some injured workers to destitution and businesses into bankruptcy.

Though the state has the power to crack down on these businesses, it doesn’t act until a worker is hurt and left without a paycheck and with mounting medical bills. The state Industrial Commission rarely enforces penalties, and efforts to collect money for health care can drag on for years. Read the full investigation here.

-In his column, Rob Christensen recounts Charles Brantley Aycock roles in North Carolina politics. Read here

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