Walter Dalton's focus on public education and economic development while a legislator and now lieutenant governor have made him well-cast for the role of a Democratic North Carolina governor.
That's because similar issues have helped other Democrats land the winning part on election night for the past 20 years.
But Dalton is facing several obstacles to extend that streak. Many aren't of his own making, such as the sputtering national economy and incumbent Beverly Perdue's 11th-hour decision not to run again.
Some of his positions have helped Republican Pat McCrory and his allies reinforce their argument that Dalton wouldn't fix North Carolina's broken government and economy.
Dalton acknowledges he's behind in polls and fundraising but believes he can still win by contrasting himself with McCrory.