North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

February 23, 2024

Early Voting

Voting for North Carolina’s March 5 primary election is already well underway throughout the state. The early voting period began Thursday, February 15, and will last until Sunday, March 2. During the early voting period, any registered voter may cast their primary election ballot at any early voting site within their county. Eligible voters who may have missed the voter registration deadline earlier this month can also become a registered voter and vote all in the same day.

This year, there are more than 340 early voting sites located throughout the state. Most early voting locations are open from 8:00am – 7:30pm Monday throughout Friday, 8:00am – 3:00pm on Saturdays, and 1:00pm – 6:00pm on Sundays, though voters should double check with their specific voting site before heading out as some locations’ hours may differ.

The primary election will also serve as the first statewide application of North Carolina’s voter ID requirement. All voters will be asked to show photo ID when they check in to vote, both during the primary and the general election. For most voters, simply showing their driver’s license will work, however, there are other forms of acceptable photo IDs, too. All voters, with or without photo ID, will be allowed to vote in-person by filling out an ID Exception Form.

To date, 7,646,070 people are registered to vote in North Carolina. 40,451 North Carolinians have requested their absentee ballots and 185,330 have already cast their ballots, either by mail or in-person early voting, in this year’s primary election. For more information on how to vote early in-person, find your one-stop early voting site, check your voter registration, and more, visit the North Carolina State Board of Elections voting page, or click here.

Council of State Primaries

North Carolina’s Council of State primary elections will take place Tuesday, March 5. The ten members of the Council of State are elected statewide and consist of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Insurance, Commissioner of Labor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, and State Treasurer. Currently, the Council of State is made up of six Republicans and four Democrats, however, that could change with all ten seats up for election in November. The primary races in this year’s Council of State election include:


Incumbent Governor Roy Cooper (D) is term limited and cannot seek a third consecutive term as Governor again in 2024, setting up a closely watched race at the top of the state’s ticket for both major parties.

Three Republicans will compete in the gubernatorial primary: Mark Robinson, Dale Folwell, and Bill Graham.

Mark Robinson serves as the state’s current Lieutenant Governor and first Black Lieutenant Governor in North Carolina history. Elected in 2020, Lt. Gov. Robinson previously worked in a variety of manufacturing industries before seeking public office. Lt. Gov. Robinson rose to prominence in 2018 following a widely shared video of a speech he gave supporting gun rights. Dale Folwell currently serves as State Treasurer, an office he has held since 2017. Treasurer Folwell previously served in the state legislature from 2005 to 2013. Bill Graham is a practicing attorney, business entrepreneur, and former prosecutor. Outside of his business endeavors and law practice, Graham has served on the North Carolina Rules Review Commissio n, is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association, and formerly served as Secretary of the Cabarrus County Board of Elections.

On the Democratic side, five candidates will compete in the upcoming gubernatorial primary: Josh Stein, Michael Morgan, Chrelle Booker, Gary Foxx, and Marcus Williams.

Josh Stein, North Carolina’s current Attorney General, grew up in Chapel Hill and Charlotte, NC, and is a graduate of Harvard Law School, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Dartmouth College. Prior to running for, and being elected as, Attorney General in 2016, Stein served in the legislature as a state Senator from 2008 to 2016. Governor Cooper, who first hired Stein to run the Consumer Protection Division for eight years while Cooper served as attorney general, has endorsed Stein in the race to fill his seat as Governor.

Michael Morgan most recently served as Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. Prior to being elected to the Supreme Court in 2016, Justice Morgan was appointed in 1996, and later won reelection in both 1996 and 2000, as a Wake County District Court Judge. Justice Morgan was elected to the Superior Court bench in 2004 and again in 2012. In total, Justice Morgan has served as judge in the state for 34 years and has worked in state government for 44 years. Chrelle Booker works in broadcasting and real estate and has served as mayor pro tempore of the Town of Tryon since 2019. Booker previously served as the president of Women in Municipal Government, a caucus within the National League of Cities. Gary Foxx is a former law enforcement officer and Chief of Police. Marcus Williams is a practicing attorney and has experience practicing in three states: Minnesota, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Williams previously served as an Assistant Public Defender in Robeson County and as the executive director for two regional North Carolina Legal Services Programs as well as the statewide Pennsylvania Legal Services.

Lieutenant Governor

With current Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson (R) making a run for Governor, the incumbent-free seat has garnered a handful of primary candidates from both major parties: 11 Republicans and three Democrats.

The 11 Republican primary candidates include Jeffrey Elmore, Deanna Ballard, Peter Boykin, Hal Weatherman, Jim O’Neill, Seth Woodall, Sam Page, Allen Mashburn, Rivera Douthit, Ernest Reeves, and Marlenis Hernandez Novoa.

Jeffrey Elmore currently serves as a member of the state legislature representing House District 94 which is comprised of Alexander and Wilkes Counties. Elmore is a graduate of Appalachian State University and a North Carolina Teaching Fellow. Elmore is currently serving his sixth term as a member of the state House and has worked as a teaching in Wilkes County Schools for twenty-three years. Deanna Ballard previously served as a member of the state Senate from 2016 to 2020. Prior to running for elected office, Ballard worked with the Reverent Franklin Graham and family at Bill Graham’s ministry in Charlotte, and at Samaritan’s Purse, in Boone, NC. Hal Weatherman is the founder and President of the Electoral Education Foundation, a 501-c3 nonprofit organization that is dedicated to advancing election integrity efforts in North Carolina. Weatherman previously served as Chief of Staff to former North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest and former US Representative Sue Myrick.

Sam Page began his career in law enforcement at the Eden Police Department after returning home from service in the Air Force. Page was first elected as the Sherriff of Rockingham County in 1998 and, in 2019, served as President of the North Carolina Sherriff’s Association. Jim O’Neill is currently serving his fourth term as Forsyth County District Attorney and previously served as an assistant district attorney in Forsyth County. O’Neill graduated from Duke University and earned his law degree from New York Law School.

Seth Woodall is a native North Carolinian and has remained in Eden, NC, where he has established a law practice. Woodall attended community college before going to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro followed by law school. Peter Boykin is a security professional and holds a master’s degree in IT security, e-commerce, and entrepreneurship. Boykin has previously run for election to the state House, however, both attempts were unsuccessful. Allen Mashburn has been involved in Christian ministry for over thirty years and has made several appearances on conservative radio shows and has written several articles. Rivera Douthit has worked as a critical care nurse in both California and North Carolina. Douthit and her husband have also owned a small business in Mooresville for almost twenty years. Ernest Reeves is a retired US Army Communications Officer and has run, unsuccessfully, for several public offices since he returned to Greenville, NC, in 2014. Reeves currently owns and operates his own business. Marlenis Hernandez Novoa has worked as a paramedic firefighter for over twenty-five years and has since been involved with growing her family’s startup business.

The three Democrats going up against one another in the March primary include: Rachel Hunt, Ben Clark, and Mark H. Robinson.

Rachel Hunt currently serves as a member of the state legislature, representing Senate District 42 which is up made of a portion of Mecklenburg County, and previously served two terms in the state House. Hunt is an attorney and the daughter of former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt. Ben Clark previously served as a member of the state legislature and was elected to his first of five terms in the state Senate in 2012. Prior to serving as a legislator, Clark served in the Air Force, retiring after twenty years as a Lieutenant Colonel. After Clark retired from the Air Force in 2001, he taught high school science before returning to Fort Liberty, formerly Fort Bragg, to work for a military contractor. Mark H. Robinson served as a Naval Officer for thirty years before going to work for a Lockheed Martin company. Robinson is now an entrepreneur in the Charlotte area.

Attorney General

Since incumbent Attorney General Josh Stein (D) is not seeking reelection and is instead making a run for Governor, three Democratic candidates have thrown their hat into the ring, including: Jeff Jackson, Satana Deberry, and Tim Dunn.

Jeff Jackson currently serves as a US Congressman representing North Carolina’s 14th District. Rather than seek reelection to Congress, Jackson has opted to make a run for Attorney General. Jackson previously served in the state Senate, becoming the second-youngest North Carolina Senator when he was elected to the seat in the 2014. Jackson previously served in Afghanistan and continues to serve as a Major in the Army National Guard. Jackson is also an attorney, obtaining his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before serving as the assistant district attorney in Gaston County. Satana Deberry is currently serving her second term as District Attorney in Durham, NC. Prior to serving as District Attorney, Satana worked as a criminal defense attorney, General Counsel for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and as the executive director of the nonprofit North Carolina Housing Coalition. Deberry received her AB in Sociology from Princeton University, JD from Duke University School of Law, and master’s in business administration from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Tim Dunn attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Campbell University School of Law before joining the Marine Corps and serving as a US Marine Prosecutor, Staff Judge Advocate, Chief of Staff, among other roles. After leaving active duty in 1994, Dunn returned to Fayetteville, NC, where he works a practicing attorney focusing on representing juveniles facing criminal charges.

The only Republican candidate for Attorney General is Dan Bishop, the current US Congressman representing North Carolina’s 8th District. Bishop will not appear on primary ballots and will automatically move on to the November general election in which he will face the winner of the Democratic primary.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt (R) is running for another term in office and will face challenger Michele Morrow in the primary election on March 5. Superintendent Truitt began her career as a high school English teacher before joining the International Center for Leadership in Education where she worked as a school turn around coach with underperforming school districts. In 2015, then-Governor Pat McCrory (R) appointed Truitt to serve as his senior education advisor. Truitt previously served as Associate Vice President of University and P-12 Partnerships at UNC General Administration and, most recently, Truitt served as chancellor of nonprofit Western Governors University North Carolina. Michele Morrow began her career as a nurse caring for critically ill patients in the ICU after receiving a BS in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before moving to Texas to manage patients in the Emergency Department. Morrow moved back to North Carolina nine years ago and she began teaching high school in local co-ops and serving as director of a Wake County education network.

Three Democratic candidates will also be on the primary ballot, including: Mo Green, Katie Eddings, and Kenon Crumble.

Mo Green began his career as a lawyer in private practice after doing two US judicial clerkships. Green joined Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools first as general counsel, followed later by chief operating officer, and deputy superintendent. Green then served seven years as superintendent of Guilford County Schools before becoming the executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation from 2016 to 2023. Katie Eddings currently works as a teacher of Personal Finance at Lee Early College. Eddings is an Air Force veteran and previously worked in Robeson County Public Schools as a social studies teacher and an assistant principal. Kenon Crumble began his career as a teacher and currently serves as an assistant principal at Panther Creek High School in Cary, NC.

Commissioner of Agriculture

Incumbent Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler (R) is running for another term in office and will face challenger Colby “Bear” Hammonds in the primary election. Commissioner Troxler has served as North Carolina’s Commissioner of Agriculture since 2005. Troxler was raised in Guilford County and has spent his career as founder, owner, and operator of Troxler Farms. Troxler also serves on the boards of the North Carolina Foundation for Soil and Water Conversation, the Rural Economic Development Center, and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. Colby “Bear” Hammonds currently operates his family farm, Hammonds Land & Cattle, and has over 33 years of military service with the North Carolina Army National Guard and the US Army reserves. Hammond attended North Carolina State University for his undergraduate degree in Animal Science before

The only Democratic candidate running for Commissioner of Agriculture is Sarah Taber, a Fayetteville local who previously helped launch a series of vegetable greenhouses and indoor farms now worth over $4 billion. Taber will not appear on primary ballots and will automatically move on to the general election in which she will go up against the winner of the Republican primary.

Commissioner of Insurance

Incumbent Commissioner of Insurance Mike Causey (R) is seeking another term in office, however, he will first face two primary challengers, Robert Brawley, and Andrew Marcus, before being able to move on to the November general election. Commissioner Causey has experience working in the insurance industry for more than 25 years and is a military veteran. Robert Brawley previously served as a member of the state legislature, from 2012 to 2015, representing House District 95 in Iredell County. Brawley was a helicopter pilot in the North Carolina National Guard and has previously worked as an insurance agent. Political newcomer Andrew Marcus began his career as a prosecutor and now serves as a volunteer firefighter and lawyer in private practice.

On the Democratic side, two candidates will be on the primary ballot: Natasha Marcus and David Wheeler. Natasha Marcus is currently serving her third term in the state Senate representing District 41in Mecklenburg County. Prior to serving in the state legislature, Marcus worked at the Ada Jenkins Center, a local nonprofit, and as a litigation attorney. Marcus has a BA in Public Policy from Hamilton College and a JD from Duke University School of Law. David Wheeler currently works at Global Higher Education Group LLC, which is focused on providing international students with scholarships and global university choices through a match-making platform, based in Spruce Pine, NC, serving as the company’s Chief Executive Officer and founding shareholder. Wheeler has previously served on the Board of Directors for Spruce Pine Montessori and is currently the Chairman of Health-e Schools.

Commissioner of Labor

Incumbent Commissioner of Labor Josh Dobson (R) has decided not seek reelection to the office, setting up a competitive Republican primary race to fill the vacant seat. Candidates competing in the Republican primary include Jon Hardister, Luke Farley, Travis Wilson, and Chuck Stanley.

Jon Hardister is currently serving in his sixth term as a member of the state House representing House District 59 in Guilford County. Hardister was also elected to serve as House Majority Whip, a leadership position within the General Assembly. Prior to becoming a member of the state legislature, Hardister worked as the Vice President for Marketing at First Carolina Mortgage, his family’s small business. Luke Farley is a private sector lawyer and was named Volunteer Lawyer of the Year by the Triangle Chapter of the Republican National Lawyers Association in 2022. Farley lives in Onslow County and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University School of Law. Travis Wilson currently works as a grocery stocker and has a master’s degree in library science from East Carolina University as well as a BA in history from Montreat College. Wilson currently serves as a member of the Union County Historical Preservation Commission. Chuck Stanley served 25 years as a volunteer firefighter and previously worked as a deputy and a jailor for Columbus County. Currently, Stanley works as the safety manager and superintendent of operations at a local construction company.

The lone Democratic candidate for Commissioner of Labor is Braxton Winston, a former Charlotte City Council member, and will not appear on the primary ballots. Winston will automatically move on to the general election and face the winner of the Republican primary in November.

Secretary of State

Incumbent Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who first took office in 1996 becoming the first women ever elected to a statewide, executive branch office in the state, is the only Democratic candidate running for Secretary of State. Marshall will not appear on the primary ballot and will instead head straight to the general to face the winner of the Republican primary.

Three candidates will compete in the Republican primary contest for Secretary of State: Jesse Thomas, Chad Brown, and Christine Villaverde.

Jesse Thomas is a published author, business executive, and retired health plan CEO. Most recently, Thomas served as CEO of the Medicaid Segment at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. In his previous roles, Thomas has served as the Chief Administrator for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Office of Healthcare Purchasing and as the Health Policy Advisor for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Chad Brown previously served as the Mayor of Stanley, later serving three terms on the Gaston County Commission, serving the last two years as Chairman. Brown is also a former professional baseball player and worked in economic development. Christine Villaverde is a former law enforcement officer and previously served as the Emergency Manager for North Carolina’s Judicial Branch. Currently, Villaverde serves as a member of North Carolina’s statewide Emergency Response Team.

State Auditor

Recently appointed, incumbent State Auditor Jessica Holmes is the only Democratic candidate running for the office of the State Auditor. Holmes will not appear on the primary ballot and will automatically head straight to the November general election.

On the Republican side, six candidates have filed to run for State Auditor, including: Jeff Tarte, Jack Clark, Charles Dingee, Jim Kee, Dave Boliek, and Anthony Wayne (Tony) Street.

Jeff Tarte previously served three terms, from 2013 to 2018, in the state Senate representing Senate District 41 in Mecklenburg County. Prior to his time in the state Senate, Tarte worked as a sales executive with IBM and as a partner at Ernst & Young. Tarte also served as CEO and co-founded Applied Revenue Analytics, a national Health Care Revenue Cycle Company. Jack Clark currently works on budget policy in the General Assembly and previously worked in an internal audit role for a large, multinational company. Prior to that, Clark worked as an external auditor for Grant Thornton. Clark earned a BS in Economics, with minors in Statistic and Political Science, from Duke University and a Master of Accounting in the audit track from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Charles Dingee is a small business owner who began his career in banking. Dingee previously served as a Republican party precinct chair in Wake County, later becoming the Chairman of the Wake County Young Republicans. Dingee went on to serve as the 1st Vice Chair of the Wake County Republican Party and as Chairman for the 13th congressional district.

Jim Kee is a developer, farmer, and Executive Director of Concepts Innovators CDC, Inc. Kee also serves as CEO of Kee development Corp which built residential housing subdivision in Knottingham Forest. Dave Boliek is an attorney who has worked primarily as a litigator, previously serving as an Assistant District Attorney in Cumberland County. Boliek graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a law degree and MBA from Campbell University. Currently, Boliek serves on the UNC Board Trustees where he helps lead reforms to the university’s budget process. Anthony Wayne (Tony) Street is a small business owner with experience in the construction industry. Street earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

State Treasurer

With incumbent State Treasurer Dale Folwell (R) deciding not to seek reelection, instead making a bid for Governor, both parties will see a primary contest on March 5.

Three Republican candidates will go up against each other in the primary race: AJ Daoud, Rachel Johnson, and Brad Briner.

AJ Daoud is a former North Carolina Lottery Commissioner and sworn law enforcement officers. Daoud also holds an MBA and is the owner of his own business with locations throughout North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio. Rachel Johnson most recently ran a small, family-owned business in Davie County and previously worked in retirement services. Brad Briner studied economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before attending Harvard for business school. Briner previously served as a member of the Debt Affordability Advisory Committee within the Department of the State Treasurer and joined the board of a public company in the investment business.

On the Democratic side, two candidates will go head-to-head in the primary contest for State Treasurer: Wesley Harris and Gabe Esparza.

Wesley Harris is currently serving his third term in the state House representing House District 105 in Mecklenburg County. Harris earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of North Carolina and his PHD in Economics from Clemson University. Gabe Esparza most recently served as Associate Administrator at the US Small Business Administration from 2021 to 2023. Esparza has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Monday, February 26

12:30 PM House: Select Committee on Education Reform

Tuesday, February 27

10:00 AM: Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee
1:00 PM: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government
2:00 PM: Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee

Wednesday, February 28

1:00 PM House: Select Committee on Homeowners’ Associations

Thursday, February 29

9:30 AM: Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee
2:00 PM: State Bar Review Committee