North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

July 31, 2020

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The North Carolina General Assembly is expected to come back September 2, unless called into special session to address additional COVID-19 funding from the federal government. The state continues to operate under Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 151 or the extension of Phase 2. Additionally, Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 153: Restricting Late Night Service Of Alcoholic Beverages earlier this week which requires restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries and other establishments that serve alcohol for on-site consumption to cease alcohol sales and service at 11 PM, and states they may not resume alcohol sales until 7 AM. Bars remain closed across the state. 

As of Friday morning, in the state of North Carolina, there were 120,194 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 1,724,924 completed tests, 1,921 deaths, and 1,239  current hospitalizations. As we all continue to feel the effects of the global pandemic and adjust to a new normal, we want to highlight a few ways our clients across North Carolina have worked to support residents and make this time a little easier for those throughout the state. Read more about what our clients are doing to help by clicking here.

For more information on COVID-19 in North Carolina, click here to visit the Department of Health and Human Services website, and be sure to stay up to date on the latest federal guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by clicking here.

Council of State Races

*Incumbents are marked (i)

North Carolina’a Council of State elections will take place November 3, 2020. The Council of State consists of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Labor, Secretary of State and Commissioner of Insurance. Currently the Council of State consists of six Republicans and four Democrats. 


Gov. Roy Cooper (D) (i) will face Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R). Gov. Cooper took office in 2017 after defeating former Gov. Pat McCrory. Gov. Cooper previously served as the Attorney General of North Carolina and in the General Assembly, in both the House and Senate. Lt. Gov. Forest, a former architect, has served as the Lieutenant Governor since 2013. The coronavirus pandemic has significantly changed the race as traditional campaigning has been limited and the two have disagreed over policy decisions regarding coronavirus and the closing of certain businesses. Lt. Gov. Forest has seen his base grow across the state especially in rural areas carried by President Trump, while Gov. Cooper maintains strong numbers in the more urban areas of the state.The highly competitive race will be one to watch over the next few months as Forest challenges Cooper to become the next Governor of North Carolina. 

Lieutenant Governor 

Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley (D) will go up against Mark Robinson (R). Rep. Holley has represented District 38 (Wake County) in the NC House of Representatives since 2013. Rep. Holley won the Democratic nomination in a surprise victory over Sen. Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe). She will face Mark Robinson of Greensboro in the upcoming election. Robinson, a political newcomer, also won a tough primary defeating more established names such as Sen. Andy Wells (R-Catawba) and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson. History will be made if either are elected as they would become the first African American LT. Gov in the states history. 

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Jen Mangrum (D) will go up against Catherine Truitt (R). Mangrum, a lifelong educator gained recognition in 2018 after running for State Senate against Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). She will face Catherine Truitt who previously served as Gov. Pat McCrory’s Senior Advisor on Education. 

State Auditor

State Auditor Beth Wood (D) (i) will face Tony Wayne Street (R). State Auditor Wood assumed the role in 2009 and has handily won all re-election bids. Street, a political newcomer and small business owner from Wilmington, faces an up-hill battle to become the next Auditor. 

State Treasurer 

Treasurer Dale Folwell (R) (i) will face Ronnie Chatterji (D). State Treasurer Dale Folwell has held the post since 2017 and previously served in the NC House of Representatives. Chatterji, a political newcomer, currently serves as a professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. 

Attorney General

Attorney General Josh Stein (D) (i) will face Jim O’Neill (R). The state’s top lawyer, Josh Stein has held the office since 2017. Before becoming Attorney General, Stein served in the NC Senate representing District 16 (Wake County). Jim O’Neill has served as the DA for Forsyth County since 2009. O’Neill previously ran for Attorney General in 2016 but was defeated in the Republican primary by former State Sen. Buck Newton.

Commissioner of Agriculture 

Commissioner Steve Troxler (R) (i) will face Jenna Wadsworth (R). Agriculture Commissioner Troxler has served since 2005. Wadsworth, a former Wake County Soil and Water Supervisor would become North Carolina’s first out LGBTQ member of the Council of State if elected. 

Commissioner of Labor 

Jessica Holmes (D) will go up against Josh Dobson (R). Holmes, a Wake County Commissioner would become the first African American woman to hold the post. Rep. Josh Dobson, a seasoned legislator, has represented District 85 (McDowell) since 2013. The two will vie for the seat being vacated by one of most recognizable political names in the state, Cherie Berry. 

Secretary of State 

Secretary Elaine Marshall (D) (i) will face E.C. Sykes (R). Secretary Marshall has held the seat since 1996 after defeating NASCAR legend Richard Petty . E.C. Sykes, a businessman from Durham, looks to challenge her this November. 

Commissioner of Insurance 

Commissioner Mike Causey (R) (i) will face Wayne Goodwin (D). This race will be a rematch from the 2016 election in which Commissioner Causey defeated then Commissioner Goodwin by a few thousand votes. Goodwin went on to chair the NC Democratic Party and now seeks to regain his position on the Council of State.

U.S. Senate Race

*Incumbents are marked (i)

The race to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate continues to draw attention from all over the country. With the election less than 100 days away, many look towards this race in North Carolina to dictate a change of power in the United States Senate. North Carolina is one of just five states holding presidential, gubernatorial, and senatorial elections concurrently in 2020. The race pits current Senator Thom Tillis (R) (i) against former State Senator Cal Cunningham (D).

Sen. Tillis previously served in the North Carolina House of Representatives and was elected Speaker of the House in 2011. Sen. Tillis was elected to the United States Senate in 2014 after defeating the late Sen. Kay Hagan. The race will prove to be one of the most expensive in the country, with Sen. Tillis reporting $6.8 million on hand as of July 1 and Cunningham reporting $6.6 million. 

Cunningham, a lawyer, is no stranger to North Carolina politics after serving in the General Assembly from 2001 to 2003. He also ran for U.S. Senate in 2010 and fended off a number of primary opponents in this years election. His campaign reported the largest quarterly haul by a US Senate candidate from North Carolina, reporting $7.4 million in the 2nd quarter. Senate Democrats must win four seats across the country or three seats while winning the presidency in order to take back control of the Senate. 

The race has looked different due to COVID-19 as the candidates release a number of ads across various platforms and opt for virtual meet-and-greets instead of the traditional in-person campaign stops. Polling numbers show Cunningham about six points ahead of Sen. Tillis currently. The race will be tight until the very end as President Trump, who has endorsed Sen. Tillis, continues to frequent the state more often on his own re-election campaign.