Scores of candidates to seek high-profile open political positions in North Carolina as filing ends
Scores of candidates filed for nearly a dozen high-profile elected positions in North Carolina where the incumbents aren't running in 2024 because of redistricting, retirements or term limits.
The two-week candidate filing period for next year's elections ended at noon Friday at the State Board of Elections and at all 100 county boards. Primaries will be held March 5 to whittle down the field where multiple candidates are running for their party's nominations.
Six of the 10 statewide elected officials making up the Council of State — with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper heading the list — and five of the 14 members of the U.S. House delegation aren't running again or are seeking new positions.
The state constitution prevents Cooper from running for a third consecutive term. Nearly a dozen people across four parties filed candidacy papers to succeed him, according to a state elections board list. They include Democrats Attorney General Josh Stein and former Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan and Republicans Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, State Treasurer Dale Folwell and attorney Bill Graham.
Missing from the elections board list was former state GOP Sen. Andy Wells, who had announced his candidacy for governor months ago. He didn't immediately respond to a text message seeking comment.
State Auditor Beth Wood and Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson also aren't seeking reelection. Wood prepared to resign on Friday from the auditor's position that she has held in 2009. Cooper's choice to finish out her term, Jessica Holmes, is an auditor candidate next year.
For lieutenant governor, 15 people signed up to succeed Robinson, including four current or former state legislators. Filing for the post minutes before the noon deadline was Mark H. Robinson, a Sampson County Democrat who has been running for several months.
Mark H. Robinson, a former Navy officer, said Friday that his campaign isn't designed to cause voter confusion with the other Mark Robinson, saying he has believed for decades that he would run for statewide office.
While the two names won't appear on the same primary ballot, they could if both advance to the general election, albeit for different positions.
"I'm not trying to confuse anyone," Mark H. Robinson, 62, told reporters. "I think this is what my calling is, and that is to help as many people in the state of North Carolina before I die."
A leading candidate must get more than 30% of the primary vote to win the nomination outright. Otherwise runoffs are possible later in the spring.
Three of the five members of Congress who aren't running are Democratic Reps. Jeff Jackson, Kathy Manning and Wiley Nickel. Each of them said it was futile to seek reelection given that the redrawing of the congressional map by the Republican-controlled General Assembly this fall makes their districts lean strongly Republican. Jackson is now running for attorney general.
Fourteen Republicans alone are seeking the GOP nomination in Nickel's now-reconfigured 13th District, which includes part of Raleigh but stretches north to rural counties on the Virginia border and points south.
The Republicans not running again for Congress are Rep. Dan Bishop, who is also running for state attorney general, and Rep. Patrick McHenry.
Six Republicans are running for the 6th District seat currently held by Manning. The GOP field includes former Rep. Mark Walker, 2022 congressional candidate Bo Hines and Addison McDowell, a recent entry who received former President Donald Trump's endorsement.
Six GOP candidates also are seeking the nomination in the south-central 8th District that Bishop is leaving and five are running for the nomination in McHenry's reconfigured 10th District, which now ranges from Winston-Salem to counties north and west of Charlotte.
State House Speaker Tim Moore is one of three Republicans seeking the GOP nomination in the 14th District that will stretch from Charlotte west to foothills counties. Jackson is the current 14th District representative.
Republicans appeared all but assured to win the 6th District and 3rd District seats because Democrats failed to field candidates in either race. GOP Rep. Greg Murphy, the 3rd District incumbent, currently only faces a Libertarian challenger.
One state Supreme Court and three Court of Appeals seats, and all 170 General Assembly seats also will be on ballots. Republicans currently hold narrow veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate.
Several legislators had already announced that they wouldn't seek reelection. Late additions to that list on Friday were Senate Majority Whip Jim Perry of Lenoir County and first-term Democratic Sen. Mary Wills Bode of Granville County.
Perry, who joined the Senate in 2019 and is a Senate Finance Committee chairman, said Friday in a statement that he reached the conclusion he couldn't "make the time commitment necessary to be an effective Senator if I served an additional term."
"I am entering a season of life where I will need more time to support those closest to me," he said.
Bode cited family considerations in a social media post explaining her decision.