The Political Beat Candidate Guide: North Carolina Primary Elections

    by WSOCTV.com News Staff

    CHARLOTTE — Primary elections in North Carolina are set for March 5, and many statewide offices have candidates in the running from the Democratic and Republican parties.

    The Political Beat asked questions of each candidate in the races. Their unedited responses are below.

    Governor

    Democratic candidates

    Michael R. Morgan

    What is your occupation? Senior Associate Justice, Supreme Court of North Carolina (retired)

    Why are you running? I am running for the office of Governor of the State of North Carolina in 2024 because I want to revive the progressive spirit and advancement for which North Carolina has become known, but which has been compromised and reduced more recently. The hopes and dreams of too many North Carolinians have been dashed by the encroachment of regressive actions by our state’s General Assembly which chooses winners and losers among our fellow citizens. Such unfair limitations upon North Carolina’s people inhibits their individual and collective abilities to reach their fullest potential, and I plan to end this process of narrowing our citizens’ opportunities to be all that they can be. I am also running to become Governor because state government is broken, and the three branches of government are collectively failing to operate in such a manner so as to allow North Carolina to move forward. With 44 years of state government experience which include 34 years of judicial experience on the bench of North Carolina, encompassing 4 different judgeships–the most judgeships held by any person in the history of North Carolina–I have a unique, never-before-seen skill set which equips me to utilize my sustained pervasive view of state government’s issues and my analytical skills which I employed to decide the most complex legal issues on the state’s highest court, and draw upon these skills to successfully execute the duties of the state’s highest office.

    What is the most important issue facing our state and how do you plan to address it? Improving education in North Carolina’s public schools is the top policy priority area of my campaign for Governor. It is important because the quality of the education which is provided to our North Carolina children in our public schools constitutes the foundation upon which their lives will be based in their ability to learn, to achieve, to grow, to become productive citizens, and to fulfill their respective destinies. My plans for achieving this policy area include the full implementation of the Leandro decision of the Supreme Court of North Carolina in which I participated as a member of the state’s highest court, which reiterated our state’s mandate established by the North Carolina Constitution that the state must provide each child with the opportunity to receive a sound, basic, and quality education. The Republican-led General Assembly has continually and deliberately failed to satisfy this constitutional mandate by refusing to allocate sufficient funds to provide the required level of education to all children of North Carolina, with students in rural areas of the state suffering the greatest lack of support of school funding. As Governor, I’ll utilize my unique understanding of requirements of Leandro and the authority of the executive branch and the appropriate state agencies to elevate the standard of education available to all students in North Carolina to constitutionally-acceptable levels. Another aspect of my plan for improving education in North Carolina’s public schools includes an increase in pay to appropriate levels for our public school teachers and administrators, with starting salaries beginning at least at the national average, with incentives to hire and to retain quality educators. A further aspect of my policy priority for improving education in North Carolina’s public schools includes the elimination of the ability of public school funds to be transferred to a private school upon the election of a public school student to attend a private school. This option which has been created by the Republican-led General Assembly serves to methodically and systematically weaken North Carolina’s public school system by draining funds intended for the state’s public schools through the allowance of such allocated monies to follow public school students into private schools.

    How will you use your office to protect residents from large insurance hikes? I’ll consult with the North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance, and in turn have the appropriate persons in the executive branch of government to regularly consult with the Commissioner’s office, to ascertain the factors which insurance companies assess to establish their rates. I would then utilize this information to equip our state and its people with the wherewithal to minimize the likelihood of large insurance hikes through knowledge, preparation, and the subsequent encouragement of continuation of good consumer practices would make it difficult for insurance companies to impose, justify, and defend large insurance hikes, especially when compared to other states.

    Do you agree with the General Assembly’s move stripping fire marshal responsibilities from the insurance commissioner? I do not agree with the General Assembly’s action to remove the duties of state fire marshal from the North Carolina Insurance Commissioner. The General Assembly has displayed a penchant for utilizing its strengthened authority to change institutionalized standards, practices, and protocols, often solely for political reasons. Historically, the Commissioner of Insurance has performed the role of Fire Marshal; however, the General Assembly determined, with no reported or otherwise publicized input from stakeholders affected by this decision, to strip the fire marshal responsibilities from the Insurance Commissioner, without any given reason, and by way of a provision in the state budget. This unconventional and unexplainable move by the General Assembly does not appear to have been implemented for any reason other than political maneuvering, which undergirds my disagreement with the General Assembly’s action.

    What sets you apart from your opponent? I have a broader, deeper, and lengthier knowledge of state government, its operations, and its abilities to enhance the lives of the people of North Carolina by virtue of my decades of experience in determining the issues and resolving the matters which North Carolina routinely must face. Furthermore, unlike my Democratic primary opponent, I am not a career politician. My background as a judge has kept me out of the arena where political promises are made, political deals are struck, and political reciprocation is expected and practiced. As a retired jurist, there are no political favors for me to return and no political expectations upon me, whereas my Democratic primary opponent is saddled with them.

    Josh Stein

    What is your occupation? I’ve been honored to serve as the state’s Attorney General since 2017.

    Why are you running? I love North Carolina, and I believe in the promise of this state that if you work hard, where you come from should not limit how far you can go. I am running for Governor to deliver on that promise by investing in our people and their futures and building a state with a thriving economy, safe communities, and strong schools. As your Governor, I will work to deliver the economic security and peace of mind that every North Carolinian deserves by lowering costs, raising the minimum wage, and cutting taxes for working families. I will work to build safe communities by confronting the fentanyl crisis and recruiting and retaining well-trained, public-spirited law enforcement officers. And I will recommit our state to investing in our public schools.

    What is the most important issue in our state and how do you plan to address it? There is no greater priority than ensuring our kids get the quality education they need to succeed in life. Yet, North Carolina spends less than nearly all other states in the nation on public school funding as a share of our state’s economy – 49th out of 50! It’s a disgrace. All kids should get a good education from pre-kindergarten through community college and university, including our HBCUs, so they can succeed, whether starting college or a career. We need to strengthen career and technical education and apprenticeship programs because folks shouldn’t have to go to college to provide for their family. And we must support our educators and raise teacher pay to at least the national average. In the State Senate and as Attorney General, I have worked across the aisle to deliver for North Carolinians. I’ll continue doing that as Governor. We have to find common ground because the issues that matter are not red or blue, they’re North Carolina. We all need strong schools in our communities.

    What is your position on abortion? Deciding to have a baby is the most personal decision a woman can make. It is a decision that a woman should make in consultation with her loved ones and her doctor. It should not be made by politicians. That’s why I’ve fought back as far-right legislators in Raleigh relentlessly seek to strip women of their reproductive freedoms and their right to make their own decisions about their own bodies, their own families, and their own futures. As Attorney General, I have protected access to reproductive health care for all women, including members of the military. I am also fighting to ensure women can continue to access medication abortions and pushing back against the General Assembly’s highly restrictive and unconstitutional anti-abortion law. As Governor, I’ll continue to defend women’s rights and freedoms because extreme politicians in Raleigh are not done yet – my likely opponent for Governor supports a total abortion ban without exception, not for rape, incest, or the life or health of the mother. As Governor, I will stand up to our far-right legislature and veto any further efforts to restrict women’s reproductive freedoms.

    What bill are you most eager to sign? For our state to thrive, people have to feel safe. Public safety has been my top priority for the last seven years as your Attorney General. I have advocated for the General Assembly to invest in a comprehensive public safety package, which includes efforts to recruit and retain law enforcement officers, strategies for combating drugs, common sense gun safety measures, and more. We can hire and retain more law enforcement officers via hiring bonuses, a public awareness campaign, training incentives, and a fix to allow retired officers to return to the job. We need to create a Fentanyl Control Unit within the Department of Justice to help local district attorneys handle large-scale fentanyl trafficking, wiretap, and overdose cases. And finally, we can improve public safety and reduce gun violence by passing universal background checks and red flag laws. We can make North Carolina safer and stronger, and I’m determined to do it.

    What sets you apart from your opponent? I have an enormous amount of respect for Justice Morgan and his decades of service to this state. I’m running for Governor because I want to continue fighting and delivering for the people of North Carolina. As Attorney General, I’ve been delivering for North Carolinians in concrete ways that make their lives better, whether that’s addressing the opioid crisis that’s devastating families, tackling the backlog of untested rape kits, or protecting consumers from scammers and fraud. As Governor, I’ll continue to take on big fights for the people of North Carolina and work to build a state with a thriving economy, safe communities, and strong schools.

    Marcus Williams

    What is your occupation? Attorney At Law: 45 continuous years of the practice of law

    Why are you running? My essential motivation to run for Governor is to elevate living standards and societal/justice conditions for all residents and families of this great State. Further, I desire to continue my public service work and unique PROVEN RECORD of creating meaningful, positive change while utilizing a vast scope of professional experiences in Executive, Legal, Administrative and Community Economic Development capacities. Now in my 45th continuous year of practicing law in MN/NC/PA, I have acquired intense executive skills while serving as Executive Director for 17 years of 2 Regional NC Legal Services Programs -18 counties – and the Statewide – 5th largest State- Pennsylvania Legal Services Programs. For 24 years I worked for the economically disadvantaged, the working poor, elderly and middle-class families to protect their core survival needs and advocated to save their homes and family farms from foreclosure. I initiated/implemented 4 successful Community Economic Development Projects (See Website); then continued the fight for justice for @ 6 years in the Courts as a Public Defender. (NOTE: I was blessed to have been elected Student Body President at Lumberton High School 70-71, at UNC-Chapel Hill 71-75 and at the University of Minnesota Law School – Minneapolis 75-78.)

    What is the most important issue in our state and how do you plan to address it? Insights garnered from living/working in N.C. for 57 years, 45 continuous years of the practice of law, along with the aforementioned EXECUTIVE duties lead me to the conclusion that the leadership of the General Assembly is misdirected in the execution of its responsibilities, especially the appropriation of our scarce tax dollars. Our State Court System is inadequately funded. Criminals can run free and engage in recidivism due to a lack of State Court personnel. Basic Court ordered functions can’t be performed in a timely fashion (i.e. Autopsies). Murder cases are stacked like cargo ships stuck in Port during Covid. Therefore, legislators posturing like tough guys on tweaking a criminal law would be ludicrous – if the consequences weren’t so serious. Contrary to their explicit N.C. Constitutional mandate to provide a “uniform system of free public schools”, the General Assembly has been led astray, evidenced by financially starving the Public School system and its employees. How can the bulk of our kids – who DO ATTEND Public Schools – be prepared for the demands of the emerging WORKFORCE if they are not given a fair chance to a strong, basic education? I, as Governor, intend to hold the N.C. Legislature accountable for every dime of taxpayer resources so that they are not siphoned/diverted to pet social engineering projects (e.g. Almost $26 million in GRANTS allocated to private religious groups in 2023 & a proposal for giving away $l.4 billion to a nebulous, fledgling NC Innovation project without PUBLIC oversight or any reasonable objective scrutiny.) NO! But the N.C. VOTERS have to help me/themselves and throw out enough Republicans to break their stranglehold – AKA the Supermajority.

    What is your position on abortion? In my opinion, the real, overarching issue is that a WOMAN should have total DOMAIN and control over her body and that all health care decisions should be driven by the patient in consultation with her skilled medical adviser (and significant others, if applicable). Regardless of the type of state-of-the-art medical procedure which may be available by law, this should be the standard premise. The government should have no interference or voice, except if a law is being transgressed. With respect to the medical procedure known as abortion (NOTE: I reference sex abstinence, adoption and family planning more frequently.) the former ROE v WADE legal standard which prevailed almost 50 years – an 8-1 vote by the Justices on the Supreme Court – should be reinstated. The palpable danger of the government intrusion into or undue interference with a woman’s choice on this medical procedure is that it could inexorably lead to further political or arbitrary attempted restrictions (e.g. In vitro pregnancy procedures).

    What bill are you most eager to sign? Bills assuring that N.C. stimulates and fosters a Robust Economy; promote access to health care for all – including a Woman’s choice; equalize and enhance primary and secondary education; safeguard the environment; preserve voting rights; and those implementing mandatory gun safety training/counseling, Buybacks of guns and responsible parental oversight (or liability), would be on my list of bills to sign. As a former 3 sport varsity athlete, I, too, will remain vigilant to maintain the strengths and healthy benefits/challenges of our amateur sports – without unwarranted influence of Sports Betting.

    What sets you apart from your opponent? What sets me apart from my opponents is that I am a versatile real person, a blue-collar lawyer and comprehensively the best professional advocate and fighter running for Governor. Like many other successful North Carolinians (in various sectors), I have worked hard to develop the strengths of being an effective and competent Lawyer – 45 consecutive years of practice (MN/NC/PA), in BOTH civil and criminal law, without a Bar complaint being filed. I have not been appointed, nippled, nurtured or carried by any Party, Person, Benefactor or Interest Group. Through integrity and honesty, I have worked to acquire a unique combination of skills to protect the rights and serve all citizens in N.C. In addition to representing the clients in legal matters at the time they needed it most, I have collaborated with local stakeholders to initiate Community Economic Development projects that constructed 79 units of housing for the elderly and disabled, led the renovation of an inner city 84,000 sq ft school, and founded a Community Development Corporation which built/established, among other projects, a Business Incubator (Nine 1,500 sq ft units) that created new business startups and jobs. In 2020, I negotiated the construction of a Verizon Cell Tower on the rural outskirts of Lumberton, NC.

    Chrelle Booker

    What is your occupation? In addition to my role as an elected official, I work full-time in television broadcasting as the Station’s internal-one-woman-legal department and Human Resources Manager I’m also a licensed North Carolina Realtor.

    Why are you running? My platform is about People, Partnerships, and Unlimited Possibilities. As a national President and leader with an organization that is the voice of more than 200 million people, I want to use my knowledge and experience gained and apply some of the problem-solving solutions I have learned nationally to problems North Carolinians are facing. I envision a large chalkboard with the issues written. Utilizing partners and engaging our citizens, I see old problems being checked off and new ones solved quicker.

    Also, the Center For American Women and Politics states: “Of the 49 women governors, 34 were first elected in their own right;…”. I’m perplexed! In America’s history, there have been only 49 women governors. I’m always encouraging women to run for office. As the Immediate Past Present of Women In Municipal Government, leading by example, I must run.

    What sets you apart from your opponent? I know one has to form partnerships and one is only as good as her team. This is not a me/myself/I governorship. Another thing that sets me apart from the other candidates is obvious. I’m the only woman in any NC Governor’s race for 2024.

    Did not respond: Gary Foxx

    Republican candidates

    Mark Robinson

    What is your occupation? 35th Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina

    Why are you running? I’m not a career politician. I know what the people of our state are going through because I have lived their struggles. I’ll focus on solutions to the problems North Carolinians face daily.

    What is the most important issue in our state and how do you plan to address it? Schools are struggling and COVID-19 only made it worse. We need to bring accountability to the bureaucracy, get politics out of the classroom, and refocus on academics and career readiness.

    What is your position on abortion? My wife and I have experienced the painful experience of abortion; that’s part of what makes me prolife. I would support a heartbeat bill with protections for extreme situations such as rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in danger.

    What bill are you most eager to sign? I am most looking forward to partnering with parents, teachers and other stakeholders to advance legislation that will strengthen our schools and make our education system better for our students.

    What sets you apart from your opponent? Josh Stein is a career politician and a rubber stamp for Biden and the Democrats. They’ve brought us inflation, struggling schools, rising crime, and more. I’ve partnered with Republican lawmakers who’ve turned our state around and have North Carolina headed in the right direction.

    Dale Folwell

    What is your occupation? Husband,father, NC State Treasurer(keeper of the public purse)

    Why are you running? Because conservatism (conserving) and fixing things is fun for me.

    I’m not the loudest or the richest person running for Governor. I’m the one that God has given the vision to see what needs to be seen(as a Quaker I can’t unsee),the humility to listen and the courage (not rage )to act. I have been endorsed by fmr NC Gov Jim Martin, fmr CLT police chief Kerr Putney, State employees association and other groups.

    My public service career has been focused on saving lives, minds and money by governing and explaining conservatism without offending people. I advocate for the invisible. Folks like me who make/made their living with their hands,back, feet ,minds and heart.

    I’m applying to be the CEO of NC to attack the problems that directly impact citizens who are frustrated with the lack of customer service at the DMV,DOT,Board of Elections and other state agencies. People disagree on how much government, but they want it to work.

    What is the most important issue in our state and how do you plan to address it? There’s not just one. Crime, the economy, the federal government’s inability to protect our border or live within their means, education and energy independence. I will address these as I have every major problem that has my fingerprint on the solution. As a lifelong trained motorcycle mechanic , I listen, act and fix. This involves listening to the hard working state employees who have fantastic solutions..

    What is your position on abortion? I have always been pro-life with the 3 exceptions. I have publicly said that as Governor I would have signed recent legislation on this issue.

    What bill are you most eager to sign? You don’t always need a law to do what is right or wrong. What we need to do is make sure current laws are being followed. I would welcome many bills starting with legislation that truly addresses the decades long backlog at the state crime lab and puts NC on a path of energy independence.

    What sets you apart from your opponent? We are exact opposites. Their are no gaps between my personal life, campaign life public service life. My opponent Lt Gov Mark Robinson is history’s latest example of a person rising to power through hate. He doesn’t think women or blacks or Jews or other groups matter to society. Anyone who has ever come in contact with him has been fleeced.

    That includes his current donors and the taxpayers of NC who drive him around under highway patrol security while he misses 90% of his official duties

    The Republican Party that I joined nearly 50 years ago was based on conservatism(to save),common sense(not so common),courtesy(answering the phones) humility,humanity and ethics(its what you do when no one is watching and when powerful forces ask you to look the other way) That’s what a Folwell administration looks like. Underpromising-over delivering. You can visit dalefolwell.com to learn more and contribute.

    Did not respond: Bill Graham

    To read the entire article, including the primary candidates’ responses for the offices of Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner, Labor Commissioner, North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 6, and North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Seat 15, please click on WSOCTV.com.


    Image above: North Carolina’s State Capitol, which is home to the Governor’s office. Completed in 1840, our state capitol is the second oldest in the south and one of the finest examples of a major civic building in the Greek Revival style.

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