NCGA Week in Review: Spotlight on Council of State Elections

October 14, 2016

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Interim Committee Meetings

Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee

On Monday, the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee met to discuss the methods for funding the state’s community colleges and possible changes the state could make to the funding formula.

Follow this link to view all of the presentations reviewed at Monday’s meeting. The committee will meet again on November 14.

Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice & Public Safety

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety met on Thursday to discuss the training methods and standards used to train all law enforcement and corrections officers in the state.

Follow this link to view all of the presentations reviewed at Monday’s meeting.

Spotlight on Council of State Elections 

The Council of State is a group of popularly elected executive offices in North Carolina and is separate from the Governor’s cabinet of appointed secretaries that make up the ten departments that McCrory oversees.

All Council of State offices are up for election on November 8. A voter guide is available here.


Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, is seeking reelection after his first term in the office against two opponents: Democrat Roy Cooper, the state’s current Attorney General, and Libertarian candidate Lon Cecil.

Before winning his first election for governor in 2012, McCrory served as the Mayor of Charlotte from 1995 to 2009. McCrory’s platform focuses on developing infrastructure, growing the state’s economy, reforming state government, investing in the state’s public school system, supporting veterans, the military and law enforcement and protecting the state from federal government overreach.

Cooper, who has been state’s Attorney General since 2001, has also served in both the state House and Senate. Cooper’s campaign focuses on prioritizing public education, growing a small business driven economy and preparing the state’s workforce, expanding Medicaid and investing in renewable energy resources.  

Lon Cecil is a retired engineer whose political experience is exclusive to an unsuccessful 2010 congressional run to represent the 12th district of NC. He’s an advocate for a smaller and less invasive state government.

North Carolina’s governor’s race was predicted to be the nation’s most competitive shortly after the March primary and has since lived up to expectations with close polls, advantageous fundraising and high dollar ad campaigns. 

The latest poll by NBC News, the Wall Street Journal and Marist gives Cooper a one point lead over the sitting Governor, while McCrory has the advantage in other polls. Aggregate data put together by Real Clear Politics gives Cooper a narrow 4 point lead, which is within or close to the margin of error of most polls.

According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Cooper outraised McCrory in the second quarter, while a recent report indicated that nearly $20 million has been spent by the candidates or third parties on advertising thus far.

McCrory and Cooper clashed on stage during their first debate on Tuesday evening. In the debate, the candidates sparred over issues such as voter ID, body cameras and HB 2. The next debate, which will include Cecil, will air next Tuesday. 

Lieutenant Governor

Four years ago, Dan Forest and Linda Coleman ran against one another in the closest statewide race, which Forest won by less than 7,000 votes. This year, Forest, a Republican and the sitting Lieutenant Governor, and Coleman, a Democrat and former Director of the Office of State Personnel, along with Libertarian candidate Jacki Cole, will appear on the ballot.

In his term as Lieutenant Governor, Forest has been an advocate for alternative education models including charter schools, mastery based education, digital learning and increasing technology tools in schools. As Lieutenant Governor, Forest serves as the President of the Senate, serves on the State Boards of Economic Development, Education and Community Colleges, is a member of the NC Military Affairs Commission and is Chairman of the Energy Policy Council. His first entry into politics was his 2012 run for the office; Forest is an architect by trade.

A former public school educator, Coleman served three terms in the state House of Representatives before being appointed director of the Office of State Personnel in 2009. She is an advocate for traditional public education, Medicaid expansion and clean energy policies.

Cole, a newcomer to politics, has a background in sales and marketing at a technology company. Her mission is to reduce government, lower taxes and encourage local control over public education. 

Coleman and Forest sparred during their only scheduled debate in September, where HB 2 and news of the NCAA pulling championship games out of the state largely overshadowed other issues.

Forest has surpassed both Coleman and Cole in fundraising; he was the only Republican in a statewide non-judicial race to do so in the second quarter.

Attorney General

State Senator Buck Newton, a Republican from Nash County, and former State Senator Josh Stein, a Wake County Democrat, have been locked in a race to become the state’s next attorney general, a seat left vacant by Roy Cooper’s run for governor.

In his practice as an attorney, Stein has focused on consumer protection working for both the Self-Help Credit Union and as the Deputy Attorney General for Consumer Protection under Roy Cooper. His campaign is formed on three priorities: promoting public safety, protecting seniors and consumers and preserving clean air and water.

Newton has his own law practice  in Wilson for 16 years. His campaign is focused on improving the state’s business climate, saving money on energy, toughening penalties for criminals and standing up to Washington DC.

In their debate in September the candidates sparred over issues such as voter ID laws and the death penalty.

State Auditor

Beth Wood, a Democrat who has served as State Auditor since 2009, will face Chuck Stuber, a Republican and former FBI Special Agent in November.

Wood worked in the Office of the State Treasurer for more than ten years before being elected to her position. Her campaign focuses on her track record with the Office and promises to protect tax payers and safeguard how tax dollars are spent.

Stuber’s experience with the FBI included work on high profile political corruptions cases in NC. Upon retiring from the FBI, Stuber accepted a position as the Chief Investigator for the State Board of Elections, experiences which his campaign believes gives him a unique perspective to the office.

State Treasurer

Democrat Dan Blue III and Republican Dale Folwell are running against one another for the open seat of State Treasurer.

Blue has experience both on Wall Street and in the pharmaceutical industry, and has most recently returned to NC to practice commercial transaction and bond financing law. Though his father is a longtime member of the General Assembly, this is Blue’s first run for office.

Folwell has experience in both the public and private sectors as a former Vice President for Deutsche Bank and four-term member of the state House of Representatives, where he was President Pro Tempore, most recently he was the head of the state’s Division of Employment Security.

The candidates debated in September, disagreeing on issues including the federal debt and the role that conflicts of interest could play in performing the duties of the office.

Commissioner of Agriculture

Incumbent and Republican Steve Troxler will face Democratic challenger Walter Smith in November.

Troxler has been the Commissioner of Agriculture since 2005, during this time the agriculture and agribusiness in the state has grown from a $59 billion industry to an $80 billion industry. Troxler also runs a tobacco and wheat farm and has received numerous accolades for his work in the industry. Troxler is the state’s first Republican Commissioner of Agriculture. Troxler’s campaign is focused on the accomplishments that have been made during his service and his campaign promises to continue that record.

His opponent is making his second run against Troxler. Smith is a poultry farmer, has served as the mayor of Boonville, and has 32 years of experience with the US Department of Agriculture. Smith’s campaign is focused on ensuring food security, promoting family farms, ensuring animal welfare, protecting the environment and increasing marketing efforts.

Commissioner of Insurance

Wayne Goodwin, a Democrat and the state’s current Commissioner of Insurance will face Republican opponent Mike Causey, who is making his fifth run for the position and his second run against Goodwin.

Goodwin was first elected in 2008 after serving four terms in the NC state House. His campaign platform is focused on fighting fraud, protecting citizens from excessive insurance rates and promoting a more open government.

Causey has experience in the private insurance sector as a former insurance agent and insurance agency ownerr. He has identified four priorities in his 2016 campaign: increasing competition, easing consumer frustration, reforming the outdated rate bureau and making the office more accessible to consumers.

Commissioner of Labor

Republican Cherie Berry, who has been the state’s Commissioner of Labor since 2000, will face Democratic opponent Charles Meeker.

Berry served in the state House from 1993 to 2000, before which she was a small business owner. Berry’s campaign has been centered on her successful four terms in office, boasting that the state’s injury and illness rates are the lowest in state history. Berry has also become a pop-culture icon, due to having her picture in every elevator in the state, many have dubbed her the “elevator queen.”

Former Mayor of Raleigh Charles Meeker is attempting to unseat Berry on a platform that the state needs a commissioner who will prioritize safety. Before serving as the capital city’s Mayor, Meeker served on the City Council and has practiced law since 1975, focusing on local government issues.

Secretary of State

Incumbent Elaine Marshall, a Democrat who has held the office since 1996, faces Republican challenger Michael LaPaglia.

After serving in the NC Senate from 1993 to 1996, Marshall made history when she became the first woman to hold a statewide office. Her priorities in her 20 years in office have been to: cut the costs of doing business in NC, help small businesses create jobs and to make public information transparent.

Her challenger, Michael LaPaglia, believes that the state needs a conservative in office to limit government regulations and interference with businesses. LaPaglia is an entrepreneur by trade.

State Superintendent

Incumbent and Democrat June Atkinson will face Republican challenger Mark Johnson next month.

Atkinson, who has held the office since 2004, has spent the bulk of her career working for the Department of Public Instruction. Her campaigns platform is to ensure that every child: graduates from high school, excels in reading, has access to modern technology and has a teacher who is respected and paid a competitive salary.

Johnson, an attorney, is a former high school teacher and current member of the Winston-Salem/ Forsyth County School Board seeks to oust Atkinson. Johnson’s campaign advocates against over-testing, increasing technology and encouraging education innovation, such as charter schools.