Primary 2024: Robinson, Folwell, Graham chasing Republican spot



(The Center Square) – Other than the polls with more undecided voters, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has drawn the bullseye for candidate to beat in North Carolina’s Republican primary for governor.

Even before he formally declared last year, the state’s Democratic Party was hustling out statements against him. The months since have brought little change, with plenty of separation between he and state Treasurer Dale Folwell and Salisbury lawyer Bill Graham. The winner and primaries for Democrats (five candidates) and Libertarians (two) will determine who joins the Green Party’s Wayne Turner on the November general election ballot.

According to campaign finance reports, cash on hand to begin January was led by Robinson with $4.2 million. That’s about $7 million less than the favorite to win the Democrats’ primary, Josh Stein, but ahead of GOP rivals Graham (more than $2.5 million) and Folwell (more than $111,000).

The candidates are on-brand for the party. Robinson draws critics for speech, its unfiltered approach and content. Folwell is well-respected by both parties for his role as “keeper of the public purse.” And Graham, the late comer to the race, sought immediate shock value with his opening advertisement saying, “As a prosecutor, I went after violent criminals. As governor, I’ll put them in jail, or put them in the ground.”

Robinson, a pioneer in being the state’s first Black lieutenant governor, would break the same ground if elected in November. He’s campaigned on abortion law, that life begins once an ultrasound first detects fetal cardiac activity; shares his faith; supports school safety measures and law enforcement; and wants to help curb inflation.

Folwell’s campaign will “completely fund” and staff divisions that combat sex and drug trafficking, including fentanyl. He wants to enforce the death penalty. His other campaign issues are the high cost of living, school choice, government transparency and accountability, and making government work for taxpayers.

Graham’s more recent campaign pitches say he will cut taxes; put people back to work; go after violent criminals, including using the death penalty “for human traffickers and drug dealers”; and support parents’ rights in the classroom. He references President Ronald Reagan and U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms with a pitch to create the Family Values Commission.

The state’s more than 2.2 million registered Republican 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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