Morgan challenges Stein for Democratic gubernatorial nomination



(The Center Square) – Twelve days after the governor gave an endorsement to the state attorney general, there’s a new candidate in North Carolina’s gubernatorial Democratic primary.

Michael Morgan, formerly on the state Supreme Court until stepping down Aug. 24, said Tuesday he will run for governor. He is vying to become the first Black to win the position, which has been held by Democrats almost exclusively since the Civil War.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is term-limited and gave an endorsement to Attorney General Josh Stein on Wednesday before Labor Day. Stein announced his candidacy Jan. 18. He and Morgan are the lone Democrats running.

The Republican primary includes Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, state Treasurer Dale Folwell, former state Rep. Mark Walker, Jesse Thomas and Andy Wells. North Carolina is in the Super Tuesday lineup of the March 5 primaries; the general election is 14 months away.

North Carolina had a Republican governor when the Civil War ended in 1865. Only seven have been elected since; three of those were before 1880 and only three have come since 1900.

Morgan, a New Bern native who turns 68 next month, would have hit the mandatory retirement age for judges halfway through a new term if he ran and won in 2024. He’s been a justice 34 years, according to his social media account, and earned degrees from Duke and North Carolina Central.

No campaign website could be found immediately at midday Tuesday, about an hour after his announcement. That statement on social media said simply and succinctly, “Today I announce my candidacy for the Office of Governor of the State of North Carolina.”

Morgan had served his current position since defeating a 16-year incumbent in 2016 with more than 54% of the statewide voting.

Morgan’s place on the state Supreme Court was filled Monday when Cooper appointed Allison Riggs, a 42-year-old registered Democrat who has argued redistricting cases for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in front of both the state and U.S. Supreme Courts. Riggs, elevated from the state Court of Appeals, now has distinction of appointments to two key benches without having won an election.

Riggs’ spot on the appellate court was filled by the governor’s appointment of Carolyn Thompson, a deputy commissioner on the state Industrial Commission. She has been a judge in District Court and Superior Court.



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