Primary 2024: Six Republicans vying for state auditor

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(The Center Square) – For more than a decade, the Beth Wood name was synonymous with auditor for the state of North Carolina.

She gave up the post last year, and her gubernatorial-appointed successor won’t face a challenger until the fall. Six Republicans will do battle in a primary for which voting has already begun.

The Grand Old Party’s Dave Boliek, Charles Dingee, Jack Clark, Jim Kee, Jeff Tarte and Tony Street all seek the spot against Democratic appointment incumbent Jessica Holmes and Libertarian Bob Drach. 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 next Thursday and Primary Election Day is March 5. North Carolina is one of 14 states with both Democrat and Republican primaries on Super Tuesday.

Boliek, in a Ballotpedia survey, says the three key messages of his campaign are respected leader, experience and conservative. Those themes echo elsewhere in his answers. He says there, and on his campaign website in a 60-second advertisement, he is committed to “looking after taxpayer dollars” and stopping wasteful spending.

Boliek has degrees in law and his MBA from Campbell and is a past chairman on the Board of Trustees at UNC Chapel Hill. His choice of voting ballots since 2002 are all Democratic; he registered Republican last summer, according to state Board of Elections public records.

Dingee is stumping on fiscal responsibility, transparency and service to the community. His website adds comments on elections, schools, infrastructure and the lottery. He says “the public has a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent,” and he’ll work to ensure “government agencies are transparent.”

The Belmont Abbey graduate is a banker by trade.

Clark says he’s the only candidate with a master’s in accounting, is a certified public accountant, and has recent audit experience. He mentions those checked boxes are in line with the position’s occupants since 2004. Clark said he’ll shape his department’s plans on who to audit based on how recent an audit was conducted, amount of state funds involved, importance to the functioning of the state, and other risk factors.

Kee, an economics major at North Carolina A&T, is campaigning on ensuring financial integrity, compliance with regulations, and providing technical assistance for financial management. He has plans in his website’s platform area to help agriculture, economic development, education and public safety.

Tarte says his time as state senator included authoring legislation that led to uncovering millions of dollars left unaccounted by the Department of Health and Human Services. He says he will “help mitigate the problems of waste, fraud, and abuse in our state agencies.” He earned degrees in economics at Illinois and executive education in finance at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke.

Street, who earned degrees at UNC Wilmington (geography) and UNC Pembroke (public administration), was a candidate in 2020. In the past, he has served on the Brunswick County Soil & Water Board.

Campaign finance reports showed Dingee ($44,975), Tarte ($40,688) and Street ($22,000) had the largest amounts of cash on hand to begin January. Clark ($9,420) and Kee ($340) were some distance back. Boliek’s filing did not show an amount; his records do show more than $150,000 in receipts and nearly $47,000 in expenditures, and an undated Ballotpedia estimate has him at nearly $300,000.

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