At an event Thursday, N.C. Governor Roy Cooper declined to endorse Josh Stein, N.C.’s current attorney general who launched his candidacy for governor earlier this week.
“Josh Stein has worked to battle the opioid crisis and protect consumers and he’s been an excellent attorney general for North Carolina. I have two years left in my term and right now I’m focused on getting things done for the people of this state.”
Stein is the first Democrat to enter the race for North Carolina governor. Stein entered the race more than a year and a half in advance of the 2024 general election, which is unprecedented in recent North Carolina history, as Western Carolina University political science professor Chris Cooper pointed out on Twitter.
There has been some speculation that current EPA Administrator Michael Regan, a N.C. native, might enter the Democratic governor’s primary. U.S. Rep. Valerie Foushee, who represents N.C.’s 4th Congressional District, said she’s heard “murmurings, nothing concrete” about Regan’s candidacy, Bryan Anderson reported.
Foushee has endorsed Stein.
Jonathan Felts, a Republican political consultant, questioned whether Stein was as strong of a candidate as Regan, and implied that Cooper’s consultants might be pushing him to endorse Stein.
Morgan Jackson, a longtime North Carolina democratic political consultant, provides consulting services for both Cooper and Stein, according to Jackson’s bio on his firm’s website.
While Stein’s announcement video has received widespread praise, some have questioned the timing of his early jump into the race.
N.C. Lt. Governor Mark Robinson is currently the front runner to be the Republicans’ 2024 nominee for governor. Stein explicitly attacks Robinson using short clips from Robinson’s speeches to various church groups.
Conrad Pogorzelski, an advisor for Robinson, said that “[Stein] is hoping that by creating the narrative that it is him against Robinson, he can avoid a primary against Joan Higginbotham or Michael Regan.”
Joan Higginbotham, a former astronaut who was the third black woman to go to space, considered running for North Carolina’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2022.
Stein has already lined up an impressive list of endorsements from fellow Democrats.
The post Cooper declines to endorse Stein in 2024 gubernatorial race first appeared on Carolina Journal.