North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

August 4, 2023

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The General Assembly did not conduct any official business again this week, however, during an administrative session Thursday, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) confirmed that the House would reconvene on August 15. The Senate is likely to return to town during the same week. Speaker Moore told members that budget negotiations continue to advance after leaders in both chambers came to agreements on a tax package and state employee raises during the last few weeks. While there will be no committee meetings or sessions next week, Speaker Moore said budget negotiators will be in town to continue working.

Statewide Candidates

U.S. Representative Dan Bishop, a Charlotte Republican and former state legislator, announced Thursday that he plans to run for the position of North Carolina Attorney General instead of seeking re-election to the 8th Congressional District seat. The announcement was made on WBT radio, where Congressman Bishop expressed his excitement about returning to North Carolina and his desire to support prosecutors and front-line law enforcement officers.

Congressman Bishop’s decision to enter the Attorney General race has been anticipated for some time, explaining that he and his wife carefully considered the move, ultimately concluding that the timing was right, and he missed practicing law.

Congressman Bishop enters the race just after the end of the mid-year campaign finance reporting deadline, during which many current candidates for statewide office filed their total fundraising numbers.

In the Governor’s race, Democratic candidate and current Attorney General Josh Stein proved to be the clear leader in fundraising, amassing an impressive $5.98 million in contributions over the six-month period ending June 30, with almost all of it (99.4%) coming from individual donors. Attorney General Stein’s strong financial position, with $8.23 million in the bank, sets a high bar for his Republican counterparts.

Among the Republican candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson emerged as the top fundraiser, collecting $2.29 million, primarily from individual donors (98%). Lt. Gov. Robinson entered July with $3.21 million available for his campaign. Former U.S. Representative Mark Walker raised nearly $554,000, while State Treasurer Dale Folwell collected funds largely coming from a personal loan. Former state Senator and current Board of Transportation member, Andy Wells, who is the most recent candidate to join the race, relies heavily on self-financing.

The Lieutenant Governor’s race is highly competitive, with numerous candidates from both parties vying for the seat. Democratic state Senator Rachel Hunt and Republican political adviser Hal Weatherman emerged as the top fundraisers in their respective parties. Senator Hunt raised over $400,000, mostly from individual donors, and had more than $312,000 in available cash. Weatherman raised over $201,000, with nearly all of it coming from individual contributions.

Before Congressman Bishop announced his candidacy, the Attorney General’s race featured three candidates: former Republican state Representative Tom Murry and Democratic attorneys Charles Ingram and Tim Dunn. Murry raised $103,000 and had more than $120,000 available for his campaign, while Ingram raised over $55,000, with a significant portion from a personal loan.

House Speaker

After an impressive five-term run as the Speaker of the North Carolina House, Representative Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) confirmed last week that he will not be seeking another term as Speaker if Republicans maintain their majority in the chamber. Speaker Moore’s decision to step back from House leadership opens up an opportunity for a new Speaker, setting the stage for a competitive race for one of the state’s most influential positions.

Three current House lawmakers have announced their intention to succeed Moore as Speaker, each wielding considerable influence over the current Republican House caucus. Representative Destin Hall (R-Caldwell), the House Rules Chairman, holds a pivotal role in overseeing the scheduling and advancement of all bills in the House, giving him significant control over the legislative agenda.

Representative John Bell (R-Wayne), the House Majority Leader, plays a central role in collaborating with all members of the Republican caucus to determine which bills will be advanced and how they will be prioritized. Rep. Bell’s ability to build consensus and prioritize legislative initiatives makes him a strong contender for the Speaker’s position.

Another candidate in the mix is Representative Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort). As the former Chair of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Kidwell has demonstrated his commitment to conservative principles and has a dedicated base of supporters. Although Rep. Kidwell resigned from a leadership post earlier this year after comments he made on the House floor during bill debate, Rep. Kidwell’s background and experience may still garner support from some members of the caucus.

Representative Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, has not declared his intention to run, but is speculated to potentially jump in the race. Rep. Saine wields considerable power in having the final say on the budget and all funding requests from members for their districts.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Monday, August 7

1:00 PM: Senate Session
2:00 PM: House Session