US House District 5
Virginia Foxx (R, i) and Josh Brannon (D)
The 5th Congressional District is among the most conservative in the state, although it got a little friendlier for Democrats when the General Assembly swapped out urban areas of Winston-Salem that were previously part of the 12th district when they redrew maps earlier this year.
Arch-conservative Virginia Foxx has represented the district since 2005, and ascended to the Republican Leadership Conference after the 2012 election, aligning herself with the GOP’s establishment wing. As a national security hawk, she voted for the 2015 USA Freedom Act, which allows the National
Security Administration to continue to access metadata from domestic phone records. In June, Foxx easily survived a challenge from libertarian-leaning challenger Pattie Curran.
The election is a rematch of the 2014 contest, when Foxx defended her seat against Democrat Josh Brannon, prevailing by a 22-point margin. Brannon, a software developer who — like Foxx — lives in the mountainous west end of the district, is running on an economic populist platform that aligned him squarely with Bernie Sanders during the primary. He’s become an enthusiastic Clinton supporter over the course of the general election campaign; a radioactive standard bearer at the top of the other party’s ticket will do that.
US House District 6
Mark Walker (R, i) and Pete Glidewell (D)
Republican incumbent Mark Walker, a former music pastor at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro who was elected in 2014 after Howard Coble’s long tenure in the seat, prides himself on being one of the most conservative members of Congress. He’s sponsored several pieces of legislation, including the 2015 Define It to Fight It Act that “directs the Department of State to withhold 10 percent of US contributions to the regularly assessed biennial budget of the United Nations until the UN adopts a definition of international terrorism concurrent with US laws.” Like almost every piece of legislation where he’s listed as a sponsor, this bill didn’t go very far,
landing in a committee. Some other pieces of legislation that Walker co-sponsored fared better, including one that became law, naming a Winston-Salem post office after Maya Angelou. Many of the bills he co-sponsored sound more like this: “Criminal Alien Deportation Enforcement Act of 2016,” “Prohibiting the Usurpation of Bathroom Laws through Independent Choice School Act of 2016” and “End Executive Overreach Act,” all of which are in committee.
Democratic challenger Pete Glidewell is a veteran and former CEO “of a business that employed as many as 1,900 in North Carolina,” according to his website. Glidewell believes in a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, while Walker’s rhetoric on immigration, Mexico and Syrian refugees hasn’t been too far from Donald Trump’s talking points in the past. Glidewell’s website touts environmentally friendly energy generation, starting public education at a younger age, supporting LGBT rights and reproductive freedom, and increasing mental health resources, while outlining his stance on a variety of other issues including food insecurity, battling ISIS and the Second Amendment.
US House District 13 (open seat)
Ted Budd (R) and Bruce Davis (D)
The new 13th Congressional District was created earlier this year when a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that North Carolina’s previous map was racially gerrymandered and forced the General Assembly to go back to the drawing board. The new district captures the most populated southwest corner of Guilford County, including High Point and most of Greensboro, and stretches west over four counties to Statesville.
Ted Budd, a political neophyte who owns a gun shop and shooting range, bested a crowded field of 16 candidates in the Republican primary. His campaign received some welcome
assistance from the Club for Growth PAC, a conservative group that spent $500,000 in independent ad buys to support the candidate. Meanwhile, Bruce Davis, a former Guilford County commissioner and retired Marine, won the Democratic primary with heavy support from voters in High Point and southeast Greensboro.
Among Republican candidates for Congress in North Carolina, Budd is one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the Trump-Pence ticket, appearing on the campaign trail with both the nominee and his running mate. During a Winston-Salem rally soon after the Republican National Convention, Budd contrasted Trump’s platform with Clinton’s plan to increase the number of refugees accepted from Syria. “Donald Trump has already made it clear what he’s going to do: Protect the border, repeal Obamacare,” Budd said. “Those are the policies that will make America great again.”
In contrast, Davis emphasizes a compassionate approach to immigration, with a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people.
“I’ve been hearing their stories about how their lives are impacted by the rhetoric,” Davis told TCB. “How challenging it is to live an existence in the shadows — going to work, raising a family. We talk about racial profiling in the black community, and they have a double dose.” [Read additional coverage here.]
State supreme court justice
Bob Edmunds (i) and Mike Morgan
Mike Morgan, who has spent about a decade as a superior court judge and as a district court judge, is challenging incumbent Bob Edmunds for a seat on the state Supreme Court. Morgan, who is black, helped integrate the New Bern public school system as a student in the 1960s and is currently a Wake County superior court judge, according to his campaign website. The election is nonpartisan, but Morgan is registered as a Democrat while incumbent Edmunds is a Republican. Edmunds, who lives in Greensboro, almost waltzed to victory when the state General Assembly tried to lock him in with something called a “retention election.” It would’ve been the first in state history, and is hard to describe as anything other than a brazenly partisan move by Republican lawmakers. The courts struck down that plan, however, and after Edmunds and Morgan made it through a primary earlier this year, it’s up to you to choose whether Edmunds stays — not Raleigh.
Pat McCrory (R, i), Roy Cooper (D) and Lon Cecil (L)
The Republican revolution in North Carolina begun in 2010 became complete with the election of former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory in 2012. During his time in office he has presided over a movement that reduced corporate and personal taxes, deprioritized education spending from the UNC System on down, de-emphasized the role of cities in the economic and governmental functions of the state and, with his party’s majority, passed several pieces of key legislation that courts have overturned, nullified or otherwise ruled illegal.
McCrory says he’s been the architect of a “Carolina comeback,” adding 30,000 jobs and dropping unemployment to a historic low, creating a $425 million budget surplus and developing a $2 billion bond to invest in infrastructure.
Cooper, the current attorney general, takes heat for a scandal in the State Bureau of Investigations that was discovered on his watch in 2010 in which lab reports were shown to have been falsified to strengthen prosecution’s cases over at least 20 years.
He’s basically running as the anti-McCrory, pledging to overturn HB 2, accept federal Medicaid funding and fighting the environmental problems of coastal erosion and coal-ash disposal. And he’s vowed to roll back the state’s voting legislation, which has already been deemed largely illegal by appellate courts. [Read additional coverage here.]
Dan Forest (R, i), Linda Coleman (D) and Jacki Cole (L)
The position of lieutenant governor in North Carolina is unique in that the post affects both the legislative branch, as president of the state Senate, and, as a member of the Council of State, the executive, along with seats on key committees and boards. This is in addition to be next in line for the governorship should something happen, but this is quite rare.
Forest, an architect, won the post in 2012 by less than 0.2 percent — about 7,000 votes — against Linda Coleman, the current Democratic challenger. His platform remains similar to the last go-round: growth through low taxes, cheap energy and separate and limited government among them. He’s also become active in the charter school movement, and brings that view point to his seat on the state Board of Education.
Coleman, who has been a teacher, director of the office of state personnel under Gov. Bev Perdue, chair of the Wake County Commission and a representative in the state House, is hoping she can overcome that 7,000-vote deficit this time around with a platform heavy on public education, Medicaid expansion and environmental issues. She says she will use her seat on the state Economic Development Board to favor policies that help the middle class.
Attorney general (open seat)
Buck Newton (R) and Josh Stein (D)
Roy Cooper’s ascension to the governor’s race creates a vacuum at the top of the state’s AG office
The heir apparent is Josh Stein, who served as deputy attorney general under Cooper. He has not addressed Black Lives Matter or the racial element of the criminal-justice system. Instead he touts his experience in the AG office and as a state senator from Wake County to position himself as a reasonable successor.
Buck Newton also comes from the state Senate, serving Wilson and Nash counties since 2011. As such, he was a big supporter of HB 2 — in the spring he was quoted as saying the law was designed to “keep our state straight.” He runs on a so-called law-and-order platform, listing among his chief accomplishments his role in the repeal of the Racial Justice Act.
Beth A. Wood (D, i) and Chuck Stuber (R)
Beth Wood has been monitoring the state’s books since she became North Carolina’s first female auditor in 2009. She notes among her accomplishments that she “removed the politics” from her office.
Chuck Stuber, a former FBI agent from Raleigh, has been an investigator for the state Board of Elections since 2014. He says that with access to all of the budgets of the various departments, he’ll be able to ferret out corruption in the same way he did with the BOE — he’s referred more than 30 cases of election-law violations to district attorneys’ offices around the state.
Commissioner of agriculture
Steve Troxler (R, i) and Walter Smith (D)
Steve Troxler, a former tobacco farmer from Browns Summit, won the office in 2004after a bizarre election that came down to fewer than 100 votes, and necessitated a special election in Carteret County to determine the winner.
In his time in office, he says he’s increased the impact of agribusiness from $58 billion to $80 billion, and preserved more than 10,000 acres of farmland.
Challenger Walter Smith, who has a small farm in Yadkin County, sees food security as his top issue, and emphasizes helping family farms to compete against large agribusinesses.
Commissioner of insurance
Wayne Goodwin (D, i) and Mike Causey (R)
The commissioner of insurance oversees all the companies that sell insurance in the state, what they charge and how much they’ll cover. It’s most important in matters of real estate, natural disaster and healthcare.
Wayne Goodwin has been on the job since 2008, through the passage of the Affordable Care Act and what ensued. He’s also led investigations resulting in refunds from health insurance and auto insurance agencies.
Mike Causey, a Guilford County farmer and former state lobbyist, has charged the current office with being outdated, resulting in high rates for consumers across the state. His website does not address healthcare.
The two last faced off in 2012, with Goodwin taking it by almost 4 points.
Commissioner of labor
Cherie Berry (R, i) and Charles Meeker (D)
Democrat Charles Meeker is well known in Raleigh — he spent eight years on city council in the capital, followed by a decade as mayor ending in 2011. Meeker, who graduated from Columbia Law School, wants to tackle a variety of issues as labor commissioner, “from worker injuries to employee misclassifications to workers not being paid,” according to his website.
Meanwhile Republican Cherie Berry, whose name you may recognize from the signs in North Carolina elevators, said in 2012 that she believed in abolishing the minimum wage, according to the Washington Post. She previously served in the state House and says on her campaign website that the state “achieved the lowest injury and illness rate in state history” under her tenure, adding: “As commissioner, she helped lower worker’s compensation costs and continues standing steadfast against the special interests seeking redundant, job-killing regulations.”
Secretary of state
Elaine Marshall (D, i) and Michael LaPaglia (R)
The secretary of state office handles business filings, loans and liens, copyrights and trademarks, lobbyists, international issues, investments and securities, birth and death certificates, and charitable organizations. It’s a big job.
Elaine Marshall has held the post since 1997. She won her last re-election in 2012 by more than 7 points.
Michael LaPaglia, an entrepreneur who has neither held nor run for office before, comes at Marshall from the right, touting deregulation and free-market solutions as the answer to the state’s economic woes.
Superintendent of public instruction
June Atkinson (D, i) and Mark Johnson (R)
June Atkinson, the first woman to be elected to the post, has been superintendent of public instruction since 2004, overseeing all aspects of public education. The status quo is challenged by Mark Johnson of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board, who runs as a reformer emphasizing teachers and technology in the classroom, and local education initiatives.
Treasurer (open seat)
Dale Folwell (R) and Dan Blue III
A vacancy in the council of state due to the retirement of state Treasurer Janet Cowell, a Democrat, has attracted two high-profile candidates.
A former state lawmaker from Winston-Salem, Dale Folwell served as speaker pro tem in the state House for two years. He lost his bid for lieutenant governor in 2012, but his consolation prize was a role critical to the GOP’s conservative agenda in Raleigh. As assistant secretary of commerce, Folwell administered a reversal of the state’s $2.5 billion unemployment insurance deficit to a $1 billion surplus, after the Republican leadership and Gov. Pat McCrory slashed benefits.
The son of state Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue Jr., Dan Blue III worked as an investment banker in New York City before returning to North Carolina where he worked in the pharmaceutical industry and eventually joined his father’s law firm.
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