Four of the five Republican candidates running for North Carolina governor went head-to-head in Charlotte on Thursday afternoon.
They debated at WTVI's studios. Salisbury lawyer Bill Graham, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr and state Senator Fred Smith squared off. Elbie Powers wasn't invited because the sponsors, the League of Women Voters, don't consider him a viable candidate.
Eyewitness News asked the candidates about the possibility that fewer Republicans will vote in the primary next month because the Republican presidential race is practically settled and, therefore, not as big a draw as Democrats are seeing.
Orr said if Republican voters think the governor's race is boring by itself, "they're not paying attention."
McCrory reminded voters, "It's going to impact your future taxes, it's going to impact your public safety, it's going to impact your jobs."
"We're sort of like the ant who has worked all year rather than the grasshopper who waited until the last moment," Smith said.
Bill Graham said the strategy is to "keep pushing our message. Tell the public -- and we have -- that this is a critical, critical election."