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Primary 2024: Four Democrats are longshots to upset Stein on Super Tuesday

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(The Center Square) – Attorney General Josh Stein and former state Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan lead the five-candidate field in the primary for Democrats seeking to become governor.

Tarboro’s Gary Foxx, Wilmington’s Marcus Williams and Tryon’s Chrelle Booker are on the ballot with the two Raleigh residents. The winner and primaries for Republicans (three candidates) and Libertarians (two) will determine who joins the Green Party’s Wayne Turner on the November general election ballot.

Stein was first among all parties to announce his candidacy more than a year ago. He has the backing of Gov. Roy Cooper, who finishes his second consecutive term this year.

According to campaign finance reports, cash on hand to begin January was led by Stein with more than $11.4 million. Morgan had less than $5,000, Williams less than $1,000, Foxx less than $100 and Booker zero.

Stein’s campaign stumping runs the expected talking points of his party, and ties to successful litigation on behalf of the state. He’s been a strong ally of Cooper when the governor has used the litigation route – a road well-traveled – to go against the 170-member General Assembly that has majority Republican chambers.

His campaign chooses to highlight his legal wins in cases involving opioids; untested rape kits; defense of women’s access to reproductive health care; public education; vaping; coal ash cleanup; and chemical pollution in the Cape Fear River.

Morgan entered the campaign much later and is generally viewed as the toughest primary opposition. He’s polling well behind Stein. His strategic issues are public education, economy and jobs, health care, reform of criminal justice, women’s empowerment, “LGBTQ+ rights”; climate change; and defending democracy.

Inside Morgan’s points are echoes of the rival party – children deserving sound, basic education “whatever their ZIP code”; an “economy should encourage entrepreneurs and investment in industries of the future”; and every citizen “deserves to live in a community where they feel safe and protected.”

Foxx is campaigning on education, safety and security, economy and jobs, health care, the environment, and diversity. He vows to increase public school funding and make school safety his top priority, and he wants to “strengthen our law enforcement agencies and ensure that they have the resources they need.”

Williams’ name may be familiar. He was unsuccessful in past elections for the U.S. Senate in 2022, the 9th Congressional District in 2020, attorney general against Stein in 2016, state Senate District 13 in 2014, and the 8th Congressional District in 2012. His campaign website is a mix of his 2016 bid with redirects to social media pages, where he’s posted twice since the filing period.

Booker made a bid for U.S. Senate in 2022. She ousted incumbent Crys Armbrust for a Tryon Town Council seat in 2019. Tryon’s mayor pro tempore says in her campaign pitch she wants to address housing, employment, health care, education, clean air and water, agriculture, women’s empowerment and the survival of trees.

The state’s more than 2.4 million registered Democratic voters can vote in this primary; and the more than 2.7 million registered as unaffiliated have the option to vote in the primary.

The mail-in absentee ballot process began Jan. 19, in-person early voting starts Thursday and Primary Election Day is March 5. North Carolina is one of 14 states with both Democrats and Republicans in primaries on Super Tuesday.

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