The 2024 primary election season is well underway. For those that want to vote early, early voting runs through March 2 and voters in North Carolina can do same-day registration at a precinct of their choosing. If you’re voting on Election Day, March 5, then you’ll have to go to your assigned precinct. You can find that info here.

For the NC governor’s and lieutenant governor’s races, we’ve got two open seats this year. The first, for the highest seat in the state, incumbent Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has met his term limit and is thus looking for a successor. For lieutenant governor, incumbent Mark Robinson is vying for Cooper’s old seat, leaving his position open.

As a reminder, both governors and lieutenant governors in North Carolina are elected to 4-year terms and are limited to two consecutive terms.

Governors have the power to appoint executive branch officials, including judges, and members of boards and commissions. Governors are also empowered to grant pardons and veto legislation and prepare and recommend to the General Assembly a comprehensive budget.

Lieutenant governors preside over the Senate, and cast votes when the Senate is equally divided. They also perform additional duties as the General Assembly or the Governor assigns them. They serve as the vice-chair on the North Carolina Capital Planning Commission and as a member of the State Board of Education, the North Carolina Charter Schools Advisory Board and the Domestic Violence Commission. They also serve as the successor to the governor.

Read on to learn more about every candidate running for each race. For the full primary election guide, go here.

GOVERNOR (Incumbent Roy Cooper, D, since 2017)

Note: Incumbent Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has met the term limit.

Democratic primary

Chrelle Booker 

The mayor pro tem of Tryon, NC ran for US Senate in 2022 along with candidate Marcus W. Williams — both lost handily to Cheri Beasley, who in turn lost to Sen. Ted Budd during the general election. Booker is president of National Women in Government and a member of the National League of Cities. According to her website, her policy positions include fair housing, funding for education and housing, clean air and water, fewer hybrid and GMO agricultural products and “save the trees.” As of December 2023, she has raised $0.

Gary Foxx

Foxx’s website notes that he has had a career in law enforcement, without going into detail. His platform includes strengthening public education and law enforcement, raising the minimum wage, healthcare as a right, preserving the environment and championing diversity.

As of January, he has raised just north of $2,000 and had $25 cash on hand.

Michael (Mike) Morgan

A former senior associate justice of the NC Supreme Court, Morgan was one of the first five students to break the color barrier in New Bern public schools and while in law school was student body president of NC Central University before embarking on a decades-long legal career that included time in the state justice department and as a District Court judge.

He believes in strengthening public education, a “21st Century economy,” affordable healthcare, police reform, equal rights for women and the LGBTQIA2S+ community, and “defend[ing] democracy.” He also believes that climate change is real.

His campaign has raised almost $120,000 as of January, about $10,00 of which comes from a personal loan. He had $32,000 ending cash on hand.

Josh Stein

Like current Gov. Cooper before him, Stein is the current NC attorney general. In that role he has gone after corporate polluters and e-cigarette makers, brought home $50 million in federal opioid-addiction treatment money and chipped away at a backlog of untested rape kits, among other initiatives. He’s secured more than 100 key endorsements, including Gov. Cooper, Rep. Pricey Harrison, Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough, former Gov. Jim Hunt, the AFL-CIO president and dozens of former and current rotate and federal reps, judges, mayors, sheriffs and DAs.

His platform seems to be a continuation of Cooper’s work, wrangling against a GOP-heavy legislature and defending freedoms like abortion, education and voting. He has raised more than $16.9 million as of January and had about $11.4 million ending cash on hand.

Marcus W. Williams

Frequent candidate Williams ran for NC AG in 2016, losing to Josh Stein by about 7 percentage points, ran for governor in 1992, US Senate in 2008. He has run for state office more than once and was student body president at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1974. He is the author of The Capacity To Believe: Race, Media and Politics in the American South (2013).

He’s running on impartiality in the administration of justice and “sound judgment and integrity,” and calls himself a “fiscal tightwad.”

He has raised about $3,000 as of January and had $0 ending cash on hand.

Libertarian primary

Shannon W. Bray

Bray, a technology entrepreneur from Apex, has run for US Senate in 2020 and 2022. According to multiple news reports, Bray has been arrested multiple times, as recently as 2023, for assaulting his wife and threatening to kill her. He was also charged with manufacturing marijuana.

He believes in abortion up to 16 weeks, legalizing cannabis, election reform and a slew of law enforcement reforms that include ending most traffic stops, ending the drivers license “points system,” abolishing no-knock warrants, ending qualified immunity for officers, stripping most officers of firearms, ending embargoes on police body cameras, abolishing civil forfeiture and paying off police lawsuits from the police pension and retirement fund instead of tax dollars.

He’s raised $150.

Mike Ross

Ross, a certified financial planner from Charlotte, believes in “free market education,” which means redistributing the state education budget among parents and letting them send it to private schools as “the state will wind down the current monopoly on education.” He wants an immediate 20-percent raise for all cops, but also wants to end qualified immunity for them. He wants to end drug prohibition and government “interference” in healthcare. And he wants to “create an economic environment where innovative free market solutions that help the environment can thrive.”

He has not yet filed campaign finance reports.

Dale Folwell

Our current, two-term state treasurer from Forsyth County, Folwell has been active in local and state political circles for decades. He served in the NC House for four terms, including one as speaker pro tempore, and got his political start serving on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board from 1993-2000.

As treasurer, he has fought for low prescription-drug prices and championed the NC Cash program, a website where people can find out if the state owes them money. Last month he divested state pension funds from ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry’s for “anti-Israel activity.”

Planks in his platform include law and order (crime in general is actually down in NC since 2019), school choice, the high cost of living and government transparency. He’s been endorsed by former Gov. Jim Martin and the State Employees Association.

As of his last campaign finance report in January, he had raised about $300,000 on top of a personal loan to his campaign for $1 million. He had $1.27 million ending cash on hand.

Bill Graham

An attorney and venture capitalist from Salisbury, Bill Graham was at the fore of the lawsuit against Camp Lejeune, defending Marines and their families affected by toxic water there. And he sued a Chinese company for dumping toxins on NC farmland; as governor he says he would make it illegal for the Chinese government or Chinese citizens to buy land in NC.

Other planks in the arch-conservative’s platform include fighting crime — “death penalty for fentanyl dealers and human traffickers” — repealing local food taxes and overtime income tax, establishing a “Parents Board of Education” in every school district and involving “industry leaders” in crafting curriculum at our public universities, and creating a “North Carolina Family Values Commission.” He also plans on “restoring the American Dream.”

He has been endorsed by Sen. Thom Tillis, though he hasn’t raised all that much — about $112,000, but has loaned his campaign $2.9 million for the primary. He had $161,000 ending cash on hand.

Mark Robinson

The first Black lieutenant governor in NC caught the public eye after airing his grievances with Greensboro City Council for canceling a gun show in the wake of a school shooting. He quickly became a GOP celebrity, appearing on conservative talk shows and rallies, and rode that wave to his current position, which he won in 2020 by three percentage points, or about 175,000 votes.

There are no position points on his website, but Robinson has been extremely vocal about abolishing the NC Board of Education, which as lieutenant governor he chairs, and supporting gun rights. He has called LGBTQIA2S+ North Carolinians “filth,” and is staunchly pro-life, though he admitted to paying for an abortion for his wife in 1989 and, since Roe v. Wade was overturned, has said he doesn’t want to talk about abortion anymore. He has called Beyoncé’s music “satanic,” said he “wouldn’t be surprised“ if the moon landing and 9/11 were faked, called climate change “junk science” and warns against a “New World Order.”

With an endorsement by Trump, Robinson leads the GOP money race with more than $9.9 million raised and $4.3 million cash on hand as of December 2023.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR (Incumbent: Mark Robinson, R, since 2021)

The Lieutenant Governor is the second highest elected official in the state and is the only elected official to have powers in both the legislative and executive branches of state government.

Note: Incumbent Mark Robinson is running for governor this year.

Democratic primary

Ben Clark

An Army brat, an Aggie and an Air Force veteran, Clark served in the NC Senate’s District 21 in the Sandhills region, for five terms, ending his tenure last year. His positions are boilerplate Democratic: women’s rights, workers’ rights, the environment, “protecting our democracy.” But he’s for the school voucher program, separating him from some of the others.

As of last year’s mid-year report, he had raised more than $14,000 and had $5,621 ending cash on hand.

Rachel Hunt

Currently serving in the NC Senate’s District 42 in Charlotte, Hunt sponsored bills to codify Roe v. Wade into NC law, restore master’s degree pay for teachers, increase the minimum wage to $15, bolster early-childhood education and create an independent redistricting committee, among others. She also served two terms in the House.

This campaign, her key issues are affordable healthcare and reproductive rights, public schools, protecting voter rights and expanding broadband access as an economic development tool. She’s earned dozens of key endorsements including Reps. Kathy Manning, Jeff Jackson, Alma Adams and Deborah Ross; pro-chice groups Lillian’s List and Emily’s List; a score of state legislators; a few mayors and councilmembers; the NC Sierra Club; and the NC AFL-CIO.

As of her last report in July 2023, she had raised more than $840,000 and hand $452,000 ending cash on hand.

Mark H. Robinson

No, not that Mark Robinson. This one’s from Sampson County, a Democrat and a Navy veteran who served two tours in Iraq, and is a businessman with an MBA from Duke and a BA from UNC-Chapel Hill. He spent 15 years working for Sikorsky Aircraft.

His website is short on policy positions and long on character references, but he says he’s visited all 100 counties to ask people what they want.

He has not yet filed campaign-finance information.

Deanna Ballard

Ballard, of Blowing Rock, served in the NC Senate’s 45th District from 2016-23. She’s known for fighting to keep schools open even in the early days of Covid, and has served on Lt. Gov. Robinson’s task force on indoctrination in education. Before her political career, she worked with Billy Graham Ministries.

Her No. 1 issue is “protecting kids from the woke agenda,” but also wants to emphasize skills training as opposed to college, along with other bedrock conservative positions: pro-life, pro-police, the deportation of immigrants, and preventing “biological males” from competing in women’s sports.

As of July she had raised about $193,000 and had $98,444 ending cash on hand.

Peter Boykin

Gays for Trump founder Boykin ran for the NC House in 2018 and 2022, and since rising to prominence in 2016, has organized and attended several pro-Trump rallies. In July 2019, he gave a speech at a Proud Boys rally in Washington, DC. He currently hosts a podcast, “Go Right with Peter Boykin,” and is active on Gab Social.

His platform is “America First,” but also pro-Constitution, especially the First and Second amendments, and pro-election integrity. To these he adds school choice, a strong criminal justice system, and abortions in case of rape or incest. As part of the gay community, he’s also for civil unions and supports animal rights, which separates him from the rest of the crop.

As of January he had raised about $6,000 and had $91 ending cash on hand.

Rivera Douthit

A former critical-care nurse from Mooresville, Douthit is now a minister and author of Christian self-help books. There are no policy positions on her website, but she’s got a merch tab. And according to her site, she’s part of the “Secret Ballot Movement,” which assures voters that their choices at the ballot box will not be publicly known.

As of December 2023, she has raised more than $16,000 and had $6,587 ending cash on hand.

Jeffrey Elmore

This past term in the NC House, where he represents District 94 in Alexander and Wilkes counties, Elmore sponsored lots of education bills: one raising the dropout age from 16 to 18, one designed to improve students’ performance in mathematics, one granting licenses to teachers who are licensed out of state. None of those passed, but he was able to turn the Alexander County Board of Education election from non-partisan to partisan. He’s ardently pro-life, and sponsored the legislation that repealed pistol-permit licensure in NC.

As of his last report in July 2023, he has raised about $85,000 and had $113,000 ending cash on hand.

Allen Mashburn

A Christian minister for more than three decades from Pinehurst, Mashburn believes that LGBTQIA2S+ North Carolinians are “a manifestation of moral decay.” He’s a big Trump supporter who believes in defending free speech, gun rights, “medical freedom,” the death penalty for migrants who bring fentanyl across our borders and is staunchly pro-life. He also wants to increase funding for memory-care facilities in our state.

He’s been endorsed by Steve Bannon, Veterans for Trump, Jenna Ellis, the New York Young Republican Club and several other figures from the far right.

He’s raised more than $86,000 and had almost $2,000 ending cash on hand.

Marlenis Hernandez Novoa

A former paramedic firefighter and business owner living in Raleigh, Novoa believes in affordable healthcare, improving school infrastructure and that law enforcement is the solution to the drug epidemic. Her tagline is: “Ready to shock North Carolina back to life.”

She’s raised about $11,700 as of January and had $1,200 ending cash on hand.

Jim O’Neill

The current Forsyth County district attorney, appointed in 2009 and elected three times, has few policy positions on his website save that he is against casinos and wants to extend police officers to private and faith-based schools. A prosecutor, he is tough on crime but also recognizes the connection between mental health, addiction and crime. As Forsyth DA, he presided over the death of John Neville in the Forsyth County Jail, in which he charged the corrections officers and a nurse. Ultimately, a grand jury indicted the nurse, but not the officers involved. In 2023, O’Neill dropped the involuntary manslaughter charges against the nurse. No one was held criminally responsible for Neville’s death. He is head coach for Reynolds High School lacrosse team.

He’s raised more than $89,000 and had about $85,000 ending cash on hand as of January.

Sam Page

Rockingham County Sheriff Page wears a cowboy hat in his profile picture. An Air Force veteran who began his law enforcement career with the Eden Police Department, Page led the Sheriffs for Trump movement in 2016. He wants to create state and national task forces for border security, trafficking and gang violence, back farmers against “crippling activist lawsuits” and raise teacher pay to national standards. He is for school choice and against “unnecessary government encroachment.”

He’s been endorsed by six current and former NC sheriffs, including former Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes. As of July 2023, he had raised about $44,000 and had about $30,000 ending cash on hand.

Ernest Reeves

A retired Army captain, Reeves has run for office many times: a US Senate primary against Kay Hagan in 2014, mayor of Greenville in 2015, the Senate again in 2016, Greensville mayor again in 2017, the NC House in 2018, the US House and Greenville City Council in 2019, NC governor in 2020 and the US House again in 2022. He has yet to win an election.

He believes in voting rights, higher state unemployment payments and addressing the solvency of Social Security, though that’s not strictly in the lieutenant governor’s purview. As of January 2024 he has claimed $1,700 in donations and had $0 cash on hand.

Hal Weatherman

Wake Forest University grad and political operative Weatherman founded the Electoral Education Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to election integrity and was chief of staff for former Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. Before that he worked for Forest’s mother, former Charlotte mayor and US Rep. Sue Myrick, an early member of the Tea Party Caucus in the 2000s. He also served on staff for former Rep. Madison Cawthorn. He calls himself a “principled limited government conservative — fiscal and social” whose main goal as lieutenant governor is to “remove the stigma our society has placed on working in the trades.” He also wants to elevate NC agriculture to the global market, establish continual monitoring of the State Board of Elections and pass a “Heartbeat Bill” outlawing all abortions. He is anti-union. He also wants to create a North Carolina Hall of Fame.

As of January, he had raised more than $400,000 and had more than $43,000 ending cash on hand.

Seth Woodall

UNCG grad Woodall is a lawyer from Eden in his first political race. He is not running for things so much as against them — he’s against “the cultural decline,” against climate extremists, against an open border, against inflation and against the overturning of Voter ID laws. But his key issue, according to a campaign video, is the “woke agenda against children.”

“When they started coming for our kids, I don’t care what any politician says, no one is going to push their agenda on me or my children,” he says in the video. “My daughters will not share a locker room with men. My sons will not be led to question their gender, and before anyone tries to tell you that this is not happening in North Carolina, they’re dead wrong. I’ve experienced this firsthand, and I have no doubt that many of you have stories of your own.”

He has loaned his campaign $1 million for the primary and had about that much in ending cash on hand as of January.

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