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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina’s leading teacher lobbying group has endorsed Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton to be the state’s next governor.

Dalton spoke at Wednesday’s announcement by the North Carolina Association of Educators at the group’s Raleigh headquarters.

NCAE President Sheri Strickland said Dalton has made the defense of public education the centerpiece of his campaign and is fighting attempts by Republican legislators to damage the public schools.

Dalton said the state needs to invest in education, not abandon it as he claims the GOP is trying to do.

Wednesday’s announcement by the NCAE isn’t surprising. Leaders of the 60,000-member association say they can’t remember failing to endorse a Democrat for governor. An NCAE spokesman said Republican Pat McCrory was asked but didn’t sit down for an endorsement interview.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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