RALEIGH – That’s the word on the street according to WRAL reporter Cullen Browder.
Multiple sources tell WRAL they expect former NC Treasurer @JanetCowell to run for @SenThomTillis seat in 2020. The Democrat won two statewide races for treasurer after serving on the Raleigh City Council and state senate. #ncpol @NCCapitol pic.twitter.com/g0hS15dyUF
— Cullen Browder WRAL (@cullenbrowder) May 9, 2019
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Cowell spent eight years as the N.C. State Treasurer from 2008-2016 after working in private sector finance and serving as a state senator. She now heads up a non-profit that focused on increasing the number of women in portfolio management – identity politics in the private sector.
Cowell boasts about her tenure as state treasurer in her bio:
“During her eight years as Treasurer, Cowell consistently achieved exceptional results and national recognition: she maintained North Carolina’s AAA bond rating—one of only ten states with a AAA bond rating from all three rating agencies—and grew pension assets from $60 to $90 billion, achieving an eight-year return of over 7.5 percent. […]”
It’s not surprising that a state treasurer would take credit for such performance, but some context is helpful. The state’s bond rating has as much, if not more, to do with the fiscal habits and revenue trends of the N.C. General Assembly, than it does the state treasurer. Remember, the Republicans wave in 2010 is what reversed some worrying fiscal trends in the Old North State, and it was the Republican legislature and then-Secretary of the Department of Employment Security (now state treasurer) Dale Folwell that pulled the state out of the huge debt hole Democrats had put it in and set a new path for fiscal sanity.
Further, it is useful to compare the ‘7.5 percent’ return over Cowell’s tenure to the respective performance of capital markets over the same period. Cowell was elected in 2008, during the height of the Great Financial Crisis, and she took her oath in early 2009, the same year the stock market collapse bottomed out and initiated an upward trend.
From 2009-2016 the annualized return for the S&P 500 was about 13.6 percent. In other words, Cowell’s tenure coincided with a massive bull market, and she underperformed that market by about half. In the investing world, beating the market is usually the standard mark of success.
Beyond the wonky finance issues, Cowell also presided over something else voters may find interesting. The State Treasurer also oversees the State Health Plan, and chairs the State Health Plan Board of Trustees. In late 2016, in her last days as State Treasurer, Cowell, as chair of that board, cast the deciding vote to extend state health plan coverage to sex changes, hormone therapy, and the like, for state employees and their families.
A state employee feels like the opposite gender? The taxpayers would cover the gender transition. A teacher’s adolescent daughter thinks she is actually a boy? The taxpayers would pay for hormones to suppress the normal changes a female undergoes during puberty.
It was a blatant trans-justice move that Cowell helped implement, and forced taxpayers to finance it. Luckily, her successor, Republican Dale Folwell, and the Board reversed this coverage expansion in 2017.
With all that being said, Cowell is likely the most formidable Democratic opponent Tillis could face, assuming he makes it past the primary (not a slam dunk at all). She has won two statewide races already, is smart and presentable, and, identity politics being what they are, can play the woman card against a patronizing and unpopular older man in Tillis.