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Democratic gubernatorial candidate, 90, makes last-minute push

Dr. Bruce Blackmon, 90, is a Democratic candidate for governor -- and he doesn't want you to forget.

In one of the first signs of life from his campaign, he is running advertising on The News & Observer website -- often appearing on this political blog in a rotation (see right side of screen). The ad links to Blackmon's big plan: the creation of a state endowment using lottery money that he envisions would help reduce taxes. (Read to the end of this story to see why the plan likely wouldn't work.)

Weekend Roundup: Huge rural county early vote pushes marriage amendment

The amendment banning civil unions and same-sex marriage has spurred grass-roots action throughout the state and has helped drive early voters to the polls in record numbers. It has also revealed generational and urban-rural divisions.

Turnout for early voting is high in places such as Mitchell and Alexander counties, which have large Republican majorities and where the amendment is expected to win easily, and in Durham and Orange counties, heavily Democratic counties with a high concentration of younger voters, where it is expected to lose. Read more here -- and get a list of top 10 early vote counties and an age breakdown of voters.

More political headlines:

--Long after the controversy over President Obama’s birthplace seemed settled, some Republican congressional candidates in North Carolina have brought new attention to the issue as they seek advantages in hard-fought primary races.

Richard Hudson told a Tea Party group in Rowan County recently that “there’s no question President Obama is hiding something on his citizenship.” And Hudson, former campaign manager to GOP gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory, isn't the only one.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Faison in fender bender

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Faison was in a minor automobile accident Friday night in Wake County, according to campaign manager Jeanne Miliken Bonds.

Neither Faison nor Bonds were hurt, in what Bonds called a “fender bender” that occurred on Highway 264 near Hodge Road.. She said they were returning from a campaign event in Greenville and had stopped by a relative's house in Knightdale to pick up campaign material.

He was issued a moving violation.

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.

Walter Dalton continues surge, opens 10-point lead in Democratic governor's race

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton opened a double-digit lead against rival Bob Etheridge in the Democratic primary for governor, according to the latest Public Policy Polling survey released Monday.

Dalton's 36 percent to Etheridge's 26 percent represents a huge surge in April. At the start of the month, Etheridge held a 10-point lead with many voters undecided. His advantage began to evaporate by mid-month as Dalton spent about $400,000 on a TV advertising campaign and appeared to win many of those uncommitted Democrats.

A week ago, polls showed Dalton and Etheridge in a dead heat (26 percent to 25 percent, respectively).

Congressman Price, state Sen. Dan Blue to endorse Etheridge

Former Congressman Bob Etheridge will announce big endorsements for his gubernatorial bid on Monday.

Democratic Congressman David Price and Democratic state Sen. Dan Blue -- who at one point considered entering the governor's race himself -- are the biggest names on the list. Price and Blue will appear at a Monday morning press conference for Etheridge.

Bob Etheridge to report $310,000 in contributions, $110,000 in the bank

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Etheridge will report raising more than $310,000 in contributions since he entered the race Feb. 29.

The total is far less than desired, given that his main rival Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton entered 2012 with $600,000 in the bank. Dalton's head start came from his re-election bid, which was underway when Gov. Bev Perdue exited the race at the 11th hour. Dalton's campaign has yet to report its first quarter numbers. Reports are due Monday.

Etheridge is airing TV ads in five markets, draining his coffers. He will report about $110,000 in the bank as of April 21 with another $20,000 in donations coming in earlier this week, campaign finance reports show.

Both Democrats are likely to report far less than Republican Pat McCrory who is sitting on $3 million in the bank. But in 2008 McCrory had about $330,000 in the bank at this point amid his competitive primary.

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.

Bob Etheridge's first ad debuts Tuesday, but dwarfed by Dalton's TV buy

Bob Etheridge debuts his first television advertisement in the Democratic governor's race Tuesday with plans to air the education-focused spot through the May 8 primary.

The former Congressman is spending $188,000 to show the 30-second spot on broadcast TV in Greensboro and Raleigh the first week and then adding Charlotte and Wilmington in the final week before the primary election, according to buy data provided by GOP operatives. His heaviest concentration of markets is Greensboro and Raleigh.

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton is spending more than double Etheridge on TV advertising, hitting about $406,000 -- which is probably a sign of fundraising prowess, too. (Those numbers are expected to leak this week with reports due April 30.) Dalton  began airing his TV ad last week with most concentration in Wilmington and Greensboro.

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