Primary 2024: Three Democrats, 11 Republicans for lieutenant governor

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(The Center Square) – Super Tuesday showdowns for North Carolina’s lieutenant governor include three candidates in the Democratic primary and 11 in the Republican.

Rachel Hunt, Mark H. Robinson and Ben Clark are the Democrats vying for the November ballot spot. Robinson, from Sampson County, is not to be confused with the gubernatorial candidate in the position now. Hunt’s war chest and name recognition as the daughter of the state’s only two-time, two-term governor is an overwhelming favorite.

Rivera Douthit, Jeffrey Elmore, Marlenis Hernandez Novoa, Allen Mashburn, Jim O’Neill, Sam Page, Ernest Reeves, Hal Weatherman, Seth Woodall, Deanna Ballard and Peter Boykin form the Republican contingent. Ballard, Elmore, O’Neill, Page, Woodall and Weatherman are considered the leaders, though a run-off on May 14 if none get at least 30% poses a distinct possibility. Woodall is the money leader.

Hunt is expected to be tough to beat not only in the primary but the general election as well. Her father, former Gov. Jim Hunt, was in office for his first term nearly 50 years ago and helped the General Assembly change the law preventing governors from having a second term. He then came back to serve eight more years.

Rachel Hunt is a state senator from Mecklenburg County. She espouses all of the state party’s usual positions – strong on education, expanding access to health care, and an advocate for local businesses. She wants to take the government out of a woman’s right to reproductive health care. She also takes a stand for the environment and expresses opposition to gerrymandered political districting maps.

Clark is a former state senator from Fayetteville. He’s stumping on protecting democracy; supporting the military; jobs and the economy; women and families; access to health care; support for farmers; education; and protecting the environment.

Robinson’s platform includes better teacher pay; public education funding; economics, including building a super convention center east of Interstate 95 and a plan for self-driving big trucks; and the personal freedoms for women, medical options and responsible gun ownership.

On the GOP side, Ballard is a former state senator. Elmore is in the House of Representatives. O’Neill is the district attorney in Forsyth County, Page the sheriff in Rockingham County, and Weatherman was on the staff of former Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

Ballard lost in the 2022 Senate District 47 primary to Ralph Hise by 362 votes of nearly 26,000 cast. She was appointed to the District 45 seat in April 26 and won election three times. Her campaign website lists priorities as “protecting kids from the woke agenda,” “focusing on working family needs,” “preserving conservative family values,” and “securing elections.”

Elmore promises to continue bringing a conservative voice; keep government out of the way of a growing economy; stand up for law enforcement; and support education through school choice and fighting “the woke agenda of the far left.”

Weatherman’s campaign points include education; right to work; rural economic growth; agriculture; an overhaul of the emergency management system; support for law enforcement and the military; protection of the Second Amendment; free and fair elections; and, regarding abortion, advocacy for a “heart beat” bill.

According to campaign finance reports, Hunt ($452,229) leads the Democrats handily. Clark is at $5,621, and Robinson does not have a report listed.

For Republicans, Woodall’s $1,002,542 is far and away ahead. Then comes Elmore ($113,753), Ballard ($98,444), O’Neill ($85,623), Weatherman ($43,698), Page ($30,794), Douthit ($6,587), Mashburn ($1,957), Hernandez Novoa ($1,247), Boykin ($91) and Reeves ($0).

Libertarian Dee Watson, of Cary, will be awaiting the primary winners in the general election.

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 Democrat and Republican primaries on Super Tuesday.

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