(The Center Square) – Mark Walker, the former North Carolina congressman who five months ago stepped into the race for governor, is changing course for a return to the Beltway.
On the same day his close friend Mike Johnson was elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the “Walker4NC” campaign website changed to “Walker for Congress.” A district in the Triad area – he’s a Greensboro resident – will be his choice to represent, multiple media outlets reported.
Walker, a 54-year-old ordained pastor in the Southern Baptist denomination, was a third-place primary finisher in a 2022 midterms bid for the U.S. Senate. Ted Budd, who went on to win the general election, and former Gov. Pat McCrory finished 1-2.
Walker previously represented North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District, winning election in November 2014. He was reelected twice and, in 2020, chose not to seek reelection, his eyes at the time on the seat being left by retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Burr.
His entry to the governor’s race this past spring never showed significant increases in polling. In his three congressional election races, he secured 58.7%, 59.2% and 56.5% of the votes, respectively.
Walker’s campaigning aligns him with conservatives. Topics he supports include government reform, tax reform, a balanced budget, school choice, a watchful eye on adversaries such as China and opposing abortion. He is supportive of law enforcement, the Second Amendment and securing the country’s borders.
Agriculture, the state’s top industry, has his support, as does criminal justice reform and improved care and service to veterans.
Walker’s exit will leave the March 5 Super Tuesday primary on the Grand Old Party side to Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, state Treasurer Dale Folwell, recent entrant Bill Graham, Andy Wells and Jesse Thomas. Democratic candidates are state Attorney General Josh Stein and recent state Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan. Libertarians Shannon Bray and Mike Ross have also declared candidacy.
Polling indicates plenty of undecided voters, and Robinson and Stein as respective party favorites. Stein has the backing of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who is term-limited and unable to run.