Gubernatorial candidates debate ahead of Thursday's early voting

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The three leading Democratic candidates for North Carolina governor spent less time criticizing each other in their third and final live televised debate and more trying to reach out to voters as the early-voting period for the May 8 primary begins Thursday.

Verbal jousting between former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and state Rep. Bill Faison was limited Wednesday night at the WNCN-TV studios in Raleigh.

Etheridge said the primary election was about leadership and said he had been able to work across party lines during a long political career to get things done. Dalton discussed his vision of retooling the state's economy for high-tech jobs and said he was committed to innovation.

Faison said he would be a champion to keep North Carolina a progressive state.

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