Incumbent Labor Secretary Cherie Berry — dubbed the elevator queen of North Carolina for mandating that her picture be put on elevator certifications — announced last April that she would not run for reelection. The commissioner of labor enforces workplace safety regulations and certifies the safety of certain equipment, such as elevators, boilers and amusement rides.
Three Republicans are running in the primary to succeed Berry.
- Josh Dobson represents Avery, McDowell and Mitchell counties in the state House and holds a masters in public administration from Appalachian State University.
- Pearl Burris Floyd is a member of the UNC Board of Governors. Floyd has expressed support for deregulating business in hopes of creating jobs.
- Chuck Stanley previously worked for the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office and is now the superintendent of operations for a construction company.
At the end of 2019, Dobson had over $71,000 on hand, while Floyd had just under $9,000 and Stanley had just over $1,000, according to state campaign filing reports. While Floyd is endorsed by Berry, Dobson secured the endorsements of incumbent agriculture commissioner Steve Troxler and U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows.
The winner of the Republican primary will face the sole Democratic candidate — Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes — in the November general election.
Republican Attorney General Primary
North Carolina’s attorney general oversees the N.C. Department of Justice, including the state crime lab and the consumer protection division. Additionally, the attorney general has the power to sue the federal government on behalf of the state.
Sam Hayes is a graduate of Wake Forest Law School and has served as general counsel for the Department of the State Treasurer. He has expressed support for capital punishment, voter I.D. laws and Second Amendment rights, and has expressed opposition to abortion.
Christine Mumma is a graduate of UNC School of Law and clerked for former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake Jr.
Unlike Hayes and O’Neill, Mumma said she personally opposes the death penalty but would enforce it nonetheless.
“I am opposed to the death penalty for many reasons ranging from the disparity of its application to the extrinsic value of human life,” she said. “I can and will, however, uphold State death penalty law, as I will all constitutional laws.”
Of the backlog of untested rape kits in the N.C. Department of Justice, Mumma said the process needs to be accelerated.
“The testing of the backlog should have been started 10 years earlier than it was,” she said. “Like many problems that wait too long to be addressed, the only way through is through.”
Jim O’Neill received his law degree from New York Law School and has served as the Forsyth County district attorney since November 2009. O’Neill has cited addressing the rape kit backlog and enforcing capital punishment convictions as priorities for his campaign. O’Neill unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for attorney general in 2016.
The winner of the primary will face incumbent Josh Stein in the November general election.
Republican State Auditor Primary
The state auditor reviews state and local government operations to prevent waste and abuse of tax dollars.
Tim Hoegemeyer holds a degree from Northwestern University and is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
A recent state auditor’s report found that the Town of Chapel Hill had been double-billing for certain auto parts. Hoegemeyer said that, as a general counsel at the state auditor’s office working on the case, more internal controls would have prevented the error.
“The Town should have taken the steps to make sure they had adequate information from their vendor and then reviewed or reconciled that information on a regular basis,” Hoegemeyer said. “Doing so would have caught the problem much sooner.”
Hoegemeyer identified the Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Health and Human as areas of potential waste because they make up a large portion of the state budget. He worked for the state auditor’s department for three years during Wood’s tenure.
Anthony Wayne (Tony) Street serves on the Brunswick County Soil and Water Board and holds a Master’s in Public Administration from UNC-Pembroke. His website claims he has experience in “nuclear security” and commercial fishing.
Republican Secretary of State Primary
North Carolina’s secretary of state issues business licenses, authenticates identity documents and maintains certain state records. Unlike most states, the secretary of state does not directly oversee the operations of elections.
Three Republicans are running in the 2020 primary. The winner will face incumbent Elaine Marshall. Marshall, a Democrat, was the first woman elected to the position in 1996 and is the longest-serving statewide elected official in North Carolina.
- Chad Brown is a Gaston County commissioner and was the Republican nominee in 2016. His website claims he supports lowering taxes and protecting rights to free speech and gun ownership.
- Michael LaPaglia is a resident of Raleigh and describes himself as a “limited government free-enterprise advocate.” He has expressed support for reducing regulations on businesses.
- E.C. Sykes describes himself as “a businessman who has led public and private businesses of various sizes” and a “conservative outsider.”
Sykes said his main priority is to prevent undocumented immigrants from serving as notaries.
“As Secretary of State, my first objective is to address the voter integrity issue by eliminating illegal aliens as notaries,” he said.
Sykes said his experience in business would help him in lobbying the General Assembly to reduce regulation.
“I will use my executive business experience to advocate for businesses in the legislative process by advising and supporting legislation to remove regulations on business and make the necessary administrative processes more business-friendly,” he said.
Republican Insurance Commissioner Primary
The commissioner of insurance regulates the insurance industry, licenses insurance professionals and educates consumers about the insurance market.
Incumbent Mike Causey, first elected in 2016, pointed to promoting flood insurance policies in response to recent Hurricanes as one success of his term.
“After Hurricane Florence, we launched a flood initiative to educate consumers working with realtors and licensed insurance agents.”
He said he wants to increase public awareness about the prevalence of insurance fraud in North Carolina.
“We need to let people know that, if someone suspects insurance fraud, they should report it,” he said.
But he said his office has cracked down on fraud in the last four years.
“I have more than doubled the number of fraud investigators since I took office,” Causey said.
Ronald Pierce is Causey’s sole challenger in the Republican primary. Pierce is an army veteran who owns a construction business. He said the department is not doing enough to educate people about the need for flood insurance in response to the recent hurricanes.
“They need to go out and educate the homeowners on why they need the insurance,” he said.
Pierce also said one of his priorities is to allow state employees to choose between at least three health insurance plans.
One role of the department is to investigate claims of insurance fraud in the state. Pierce said insurance companies need to take a bigger role in investigating fraud.
“The preliminary investigation needs to be handled by the insurance company, of which it is not,” he said.
The winner of the primary will face the sole Democratic candidate in November — former insurance commissioner Wayne Goodwin.
Democratic primaries for Council of State are on the ballot for state auditor, state treasurer and commissioner of agriculture.
Early voting continues until Feb. 29 in Orange County. The primary is on March 3.
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