North Carolina Down Ballot Races Competitive

By John Celock

North Carolina’s gubernatorial race is not the only competitive race in the Tar Heel State, as a new poll shows competitive races for three other statewide offices.

A PPP Poll released Tuesday shows that the races for lieutenant governor, attorney general and state treasurer remain just as competitive as the gubernatorial race between Gov. Pat McCrory (R) and Democratic challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper, who are tied at 41 percent each. The competitive races come as both parties seek to gain control over parts of North Carolina’s government in one of the most politically divided states in the country.

The poll showed Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) and his Democratic challenger, former state Personnel Director Linda Coleman, tied at 38 percent each. In the attorney general’s race Democratic nominee, former state Sen. Josh Stein, narrowly leads the Republican nominee, state Sen. Buck Newton 39 percent to 38 percent. In the open seat race for treasurer, the Republican nominee, state Sen. Dale Folwell and Democrat Dan Blue III are tied at 39 percent. Treasurer Janet Cowell (D) is not seeking reelection.

The lieutenant governor’s race is a rematch between Forest, an architect and son of former U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick (R) and Coleman, a former state legislator and Wake County commissioner. In the 2012 contest between the two, Forest defeated Coleman by roughly 7,000 votes.

In North Carolina, the lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate, serves on the state Board of Education and state community college board, along with serving on the state economic development board and Council of State. Forest has taken on additional duties including serving on the state military affairs commission and chairing an energy policy committee. He has been promoting having a personalized school curriculum for each student in the state.

Coleman has been running on her record in county and state government and focusing on the conservative direction McCrory and the Republican-controlled state Legislature have taken since 2013. Coleman headed the state Personnel Office under former Gov. Bev Perdue (D), who left office in 2013.

Stein, a former senior deputy attorney general and aide to former U.S. Sen. John Edwards (D), and Newton have been battling to succeed Cooper as the state’s top attorney. The office has been in the spotlight during the fight over the state’s new law regarding transgender access to bathroom. Cooper declined to represent the state in ongoing federal litigation on the issue, leading McCrory to retain other legal counsel for the state.

In the race to succeed Cowell as treasurer, Blue, the son of state Sen. Dan Blue Jr. and former investment banker, and Folwell are looking to take over an obscure but powerful office within the financial community. North Carolina’s treasurer serves as the state’s top banker, investing state funds and overseeing the state’s public pension systems, including the funds investments. In addition, the treasurer oversees the state’s bond program, unclaimed property program, the state employee health plan and advises local governments on fiscal issues.