North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

October 23, 2020

Pardon Our Dust

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This week, Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina will remain paused in Phase 3 until November 13. North Carolina has seen an uptick of COVID-19 clusters over the past two weeks, prompting the Governor to continue with Phase 3 restrictions until after the election. State officials were hopeful to continue to lift restrictions that were set to expire October 23 but key metrics and trends moved in the wrong direction as we move into flu season. Under Phase 3, face coverings are still mandatory for everybody over the age of 5, large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7% occupancy for spectators with other safety protocols, smaller outdoor entertainment venues may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity or 100 guests, whichever is less, movie theaters and conference centers may open indoor spaces to 30% of capacity, or 100 seated guests, whichever is less, bars may operate outdoors only at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less, outdoor amusement parks may open at 30% occupancy, the limits on mass gatherings will remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

As of Thursday morning, in the state of North Carolina, there were 252,992 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 3,718,606 completed tests, 4,063 deaths, and 1,205 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.

Elections Roundup 

With only 11 days to go before voters across the country will have cast their ballots for who they would like to serve as their elected officials, McGuireWoods Consulting is bringing you a comprehensive 2020 election website – your one-stop resource for this year’s presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, attorneys general, and state legislative races. Complete with concise information about how elections are shaping up around the country – including snapshots of primary results and hot-button ballot initiatives – our site provides a landscape view of our nation’s political scene and insights on potential shifts in the tide. Click here to visit MWC’s 2020 election website. 

Interested in even more election insight? Join members of our MWC team from across the country for our panel discussion on the 2020 elections. Click here to register for our 2020 Election Recap: Presidential, U.S. Senate and House Races webinar, Thursday, November 5 at 11:00 AM EST. 

Over the last few weeks, our team has highlighted races happening in November from around North Carolina, along with other election resources to keep everyone informed not just on what’s happening in Raleigh, but all over the state, region by region. To catch up on all of the state races we have covered so far, you can check out some of our recent editions of Week In Review. For an overview of North Carolina’s Gubernatorial race click here and for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race also happening this year, click here. For races taking place in the Western part of the state, click here, for Central North Carolina races, click here, and for US House and Eastern North Carolina races, click here

Our team also breaks down the most competitive races for the state Senate and the state House as Democrats fight to gain majority control of at least one of the chambers in the General Assembly. Catch up on our state Senate recap by clicking here and our state House races to watch recap by clicking here.

Council of State 

North Carolina’s 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. This week we highlight the down-ballot races for Council of State. 

Attorney General

Josh Stein

Attorney General Josh Stein (D)

Incumbent Attorney General Josh Stein will face Jim O’Neill (R). The state’s top lawyer, Stein has held the office since 2017. Before becoming Attorney General, Stein served in the NC Senate representing District 16 (Wake County). Stein holds his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and obtained his J.D. from Harvard Law School. In 2016, Stein narrowly defeated his general election opponent former Sen. Buck Newton, winning 50.22% to 49.78%. According to a recent poll from East Carolina University, Attorney General Stein leads O’Neill 49% to 44%. 

If re-elected, Attorney General Stein’s top priorities would be to continue to clear the backlog of sexual assault kits across the state, protect consumers from deception or fraud, and to continue the battle against the opioid epidemic. This race is considered competitive through the final days of campaigning as O’Neill has touted Stein as being soft on crime through statewide ads. 

Jim O'Neill

Jim O’Neill (R)

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. O’Neill holds his undergraduate degree from Duke University and obtained his J.D. from New York University Law School.

If elected, O’Neill’s top priorities would be to strengthen domestic and elderly violence laws, help drug offenders get clean through programs that could get their charges reduced or dropped, and enforce stricter penalties against those who cause civil unrest. 

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Jen Mangrum

Jen Mangrum (D)

Dr. Jen Mangrum 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). Prior to running for office,  Dr. Mangrum helped create the Elementary and Education Program and Department at NC State. She now serves as a education professor at UNC-Greensboro. 

If elected, Dr. Mangrum would like to see increased per-pupil expenditures in public schools, expand equity through all school districts, and raise teacher pay to the national average. 

Catherine Truitt

Catherine Truitt (R)

Truitt previously served as Gov. Pat McCrory’s Senior Advisor on Education. In that capacity, she was tasked with developing strategic state education policy goals for ages 0-20. Currently she serves as Chancellor of Western Governors University (WGU NC). WGU NC is an online university that serves over 3,000 residents of North Carolina. Truitt seeks to replace Superintendent Mark Johnson (R) who unsuccessfully ran for Lieutenant governor. This race remains a tossup. 

If elected, Truitt would recommend research-based early literacy strategies, expand collaboration and partnerships between schools, community colleges, and businesses, and would seek to collaborate with experts to solve the funding shortfall for public schools. 

State Auditor

Beth Wood

Beth Wood (D)

Incumbent State Auditor Beth Wood will face Tony Wayne Street (R). State Auditor Wood assumed the role in 2009 and has handily won all re-election bids.She has become one of the most respected elected officials in the state and has gained a reputation of being tough but fair. She is North Carolina’s first female state auditor and is responsible for holding state government accountable for its use of taxpayer dollars. This race has not been touted as competitive. 

If re-elected, State Auditor Wood seeks to continue to address spending issues that have plagued the North Carolina Department of Transportation, monitor the state’s Medicaid program budget, and review the effectiveness of programs administered by the Department of Public Instruction. 

Tony Wayne Street

Tony Wayne Street (R)

Street, a statewide political newcomer and small business owner from Wilmington, faces an up-hill battle to become the next Auditor. Street currently serves as a member of the Brunswick County Soil and Water Board. 

If elected, Street seeks to bring a conservative approach to limit the wrongful spending of taxpayer dollars. 

State Treasurer 

Dale Folwell

Treasurer Dale Folwell (R)

Incumbent Treasurer Dale Folwell will face Ronnie Chatterji (D). State Treasurer Folwell has held the post since 2017 and previously served in the NC House of Representatives for four terms including two years as Speaker Pro Tempore.  Recently, Treasurer Folwell announced the sale of $400 million of voter-approved Connect NC Bonds. The sale, which is part of a $2 billion package, will assist universities, community colleges, and infrastructure across the state. 

If re-elected, Treasurer Folwell would seek to preserve the state’s pension system, reduce unfunded health care liability, and maintain the state’s AAA bond rating while helping local governments achieve the same. 

Ronnie Chatterji

Ronnie Chatterji (D)

Chatterji, a political newcomer, currently serves as a professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Despite being a new face to statewide politics, a recent poll from East Carolina University shows him trailing Treasurer Folwell by four points (47% to 43%). Chatterji previously served as an economic advisor to former President Barack Obama and is a member of Governor Cooper’s Entrepreneurial Council and the NC FIRST Commission.

If elected, Chatterji would invest in changing the state’s healthcare system, seek to create environmental equity, and expand financial services for all citizens of the state. 

Commissioner of Agriculture 

Commissioner Steve Troxler (R)

Incumbent Commissioner Steve Troxler will face Jenna Wadsworth (D). Commissioner Troxler has served since 2005 and runs a family farm that produces tobacco, wheat, vegetables, and soybeans. Commissioner Troxler has served as past president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and serves on the boards of the N.C. Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation, the Rural Economic Development Center and the N.C. Biotechnology Center. Commissioner Troxler did not have a primary opponent. This race leans in favor of Commissioner Troxler. 

If re-elected, Commissioner Troxler would seek to keep the state’s food supply safe, support farmers across the state, conserve the state’s natural resources, and make North Carolina more resilient to catastrophic weather events.  

Jenna Wadsworth (D)

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. She was elected at the age of 21 to serve on the Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District Board, becoming the youngest women ever to hold public office in North Carolina. She was re-elected to the Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors in November 2018. She was elected Vice-Chair of the Board in Spring 2015. She formerly represented the 11-county Area IV on the NC Association of Soil and Water Conservation District’s Water Resources Committee.

If elected, Wadsworth would seek to address climate change by building resiliency into farm plans, expand new crops and revenue streams including the charge to legalize cannabis, and expand rural broadband access to allow farmers to compete on a global stage. 

Commissioner of Labor 

Jessica Holmes

Jessica Holmes (D)

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. Holmes obtained her J.D. from the UNC School of Law and has spent her professional career as a labor and employment law attorney. She became the youngest commissioner ever elected in the history of Wake County when she assumed office in 2014. 

If elected, Holmes would seek to raise the minimum wage, ensure safe and healthy work environments, and create policies that are conducive to the needs of modern day families. 

Josh Dobson

Representative Josh Dobson (R)

Rep. Dobson, a seasoned legislator, has represented District 85 (Avery, McDowell, Mitchell) since 2013. Rep. Dobson was a rising star in the General Assembly, serving as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and Health Policy Committee. Come November 3, Rep. Dobson will hope to fill  the seat being vacated by one of most recognizable political names in the state, Cherie Berry. The race between Holmes and Rep. Dobson remains a tossup. 

If elected, Rep. Dobson hopes to make the office less partisan and keep North Carolina’s workers safe through increased training, education, and collaboration between employees and employers.  

Secretary of State 

Elaine Marshall

Secretary Elaine Marshall (D)

Incumbent Secretary Elaine Marshall will face E.C. Sykes (R). Secretary Marshall has held the seat since 1996 after defeating NASCAR legend Richard Petty. Secretary Marshall is the first woman to be elected North Carolina Secretary of State and the first woman elected to statewide executive office in North Carolina.  Secretary Marshall has handily won her re-elections to the office after unsuccessful bids for U.S. Senate. Recently, Marshall has come under fire by her opponent for holding the office for too long. 

If re-elected, Secretary Marshall would like keep North Carolina competitive through a changing economy and regulate commerce tailored to the effects of the pandemic. 

EC Sykes

E.C. Sykes (R)

Sykes, a businessman from Durham and political newcomer, seeks to bring a new face to the office. Sykes served as CEO of a small, family-owned manufacturing company that was twice recognized as one of the 50 fastest-growing companies in North Carolina. Sykes hopes that his successful business background will help voters decide between him or the six-term incumbent he faces. 

If elected, Sykes hopes to bring conservative business values to the office, remove barriers to economic growth, and foster job creation. 

Commissioner of Insurance 

Mike Causey

Commissioner Mike Causey (R)

Incumbent Commissioner Mike Causey  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. Commissioner Causey is a military veteran and has spent the last 25 years in the insurance industry. 

If re-elected, Commissioner Causey would like to see more competition in the industry to lower rates for consumers, improve efficiency through less regulation, and reform antiquated bureaucracy. 

Wayne Goodwin

Wayne Goodwin (D)

After losing the 2016 election, former Insurance Commissioner Goodwin went on to chair the NC Democratic Party and now seeks to regain his position on the Council of State. He previously served as Commissioner of Insurance from 2009 to 2016. Goodwin hopes to leverage his statewide name recognition in what will be a competitive race down to election day.

If elected, Goodwin would prioritize fair, low, and non-discriminatory homeowner and auto rates, support Medicaid expansion, and hold insurance companies accountable. 

Upcoming Legislative Meetings 

Monday, October 26, 2020

9:30 AM – 11:30 AM: Unintentional Death Prevention Committee – North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Perinatal Health Committee – North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force