North Carolina Gov. race: GOP win could strip Dems’ veto power

  • North Carolina's governor seat is up for grabs as Gov. Roy Cook exits
  • Democrats have claimed the seat for the majority of the past 31 years
  • Republicans, however, control the legislature and the appellate court

(NewsNation) — Eyes are on the North Carolina’s governor race, where two starkly different candidates are vying for a spot in the governor’s mansion ahead of the state’s primary election on Tuesday.

The seat, held since 2017 by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, is up for grabs as Democrats try to expand their success in the South. The party has controlled North Carolina’s governor’s office for the majority of the past 31 years.

Republicans, however, control the legislature and the appellate courts, a GOP success in the governor’s race could eliminate the office’s current Democratic veto power.

Candidate and current North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is an Ivy League-educated attorney who has followed a traditional rise to success through the state’s Democratic party. Republican candidate Mark Robinson is a former furniture factory worker turned lieutenant governor, catapulted into politics by a viral gun rights video.

FILE – North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein speaks in favor of protecting abortion access during a news conference at the North Carolina Department of Justice in Raleigh, N.C., Aug. 3, 2022. A North Carolina prosecutor said Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, that campaign-related charges will not be pursued further against Stein or his aides, one day after an appeals court ruled the political libel law her office was seeking to enforce is most likely unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum, File)

Both men have positioned themselves as frontrunners in the election for Cooper’s seat and either candidate’s success would break the mold. Robinson would be North Carolina’s first Black governor, while a win for Stein would make him the first Jewish politician elected to the role.

Robinson has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, who compared the North Carolina Republican to minister and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. At a rally on Saturday, Trump called Robinson “Martin Luther King on steroids.”

The lieutenant governor has positioned himself as a socially conservative choice, promising to invest in rural communities and hold education leaders accountable. He’s been critical of efforts to teach LGBTQ+ issues in sex education and told churchgoers he wished abortion were outlawed, according to the Associated Press.

North Carolina Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson speaks Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Raleigh, N.C., as Senate Republicans advanced a measure that would limit how teachers can discuss racial concepts inside the classroom. (AP Photo/Bryan Anderson)

Stein, on the other hand, has landed the current governor’s endorsement. Throughout his campaign, Stein has highlighted his efforts to challenge special interest groups and “protect families.” Those efforts include taking on the e-cigarette manufacturer Juul and negotiating the nation’s largest coal ash cleanup.

Robinson’s campaign said in February that the Democrat supports banning abortion with some exceptions after about six weeks of pregnancy, according to The AP.

Both candidates face challengers in their respective parties. Robinson is up against State Treasurer Dale Folwell and trial attorney Bill Graham. Meanwhile, Stein’s opponents include former state Supreme Court Associate Justice Mike Morgan, whose victory would also make him the state’s first Black governor.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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