RALEIGH – An open political seat usually attracts a lot of attention from those with either raw political ambition, or a true calling to make a difference. Determining which category a candidate falls in to is for the voters, and it seems Republican primary voters will have a lot of options to weigh when it comes to the 2020 race for the open lieutenant governor seat.
Already, it’s shaping up to be a shoot out. Months ago, former Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran announced her intentions to run. State House Rep. Mark Brody (R-Union), a conservative stalwart, is also reportedly eyeing the seat.
More recently, news of former vice chair of the Mecklenburg County Commission Jim Puckett’s intentions were leaked, and rumors are flying that former (disgraced?) U.S. House Representative Renee Ellmers is strongly considering a run too.
And the names don’t stop there. According to the Daily Haymaker, there are two more names to be thrown into the mix – Neal Robbins and Buddy Bengel.
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So that is six contenders on the Republican side alone. The Democrats already have a few candidates that have announced as well, including State Senator Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe) and former state lawmaker Cal Cunningham. Cunningham has already cut his first campaign ad.
First in Freedom will be reaching out to a few of the more conservative hopefuls in the race to learn more about them, their priorities, and offer our readers a candidate profile in order to separate the wheat from the chaff in this already crowded race.
The latest two additions to the list, Robbins and Bengel, are more of the political insider variety. This author actually used to be employed by Robbins, via the North State Journal, of which he is publisher. He’s also an attorney and a former McCrory administration legislative liaison.
Bengel, a restaurateur of New Bern, launched (with his family) the minor league Morehead City Marlins. This author is a native of Morehead City. Bengel was selected last year for the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a grooming for political aspirations. The Bengel family are a wealthy family with diverse business interests, from real estate to hospitality, all stemming from the R.E. Bengel Sheet Metal Co. founded in 1910.
As the race heats up, we’ll have more cause to evaluate the merits of each of these candidates, some certainly being more deserving of the conservative vote than others. Until then, brace yourself for more announcements, and get ready for the 2020 Lt. Gov. Shootout.
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