Retired NC Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan has dropped a new campaign ad while two GOP candidates drop out entirely.
As the calendar inches closer to the start of the December 5th candidate filing date in North Carolina, there’s movement in the race for governor, arguably the most important 2024 election campaign in the state.
Two comparatively weak Republican gubernatorial candidates have seen the light and decided to drop out of the GOP primary to run for other offices, rather than face the juggernaut that is the front-runner, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.
Meanwhile, a new, well-self-financed Republican candidate has not only jumped in while others are scurrying out, but he’s already put a campaign commercial on the air.
And the Republican front-runner, Robinson, is staying in the thick of controversy, criticizing a large demonstration against the Israel-Hamas Middle East conflict that blocked traffic on Durham Highway 147, posting on social media “lawless disturbances are unacceptable.”
An angry Robinson was upset that Durham Police did not forcefully try to remove the demonstrators.
“When I am governor, we will not tolerate protestors interfering with law-abiding citizens going about their daily lives,” Robinson said. “The days of coddling lawlessness will be over. I’ll move swiftly to order Highway Patrol to use any and all resources at their disposal to quickly clear roadways of these extremist displays.”
In the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, retired NC Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan was busy traveling the state, appearing at public events, shaking hands, and making speeches wherever and whenever he could, especially in the African American community. Morgan also unveiled a well-produced, made-for-social media, first campaign commercial in the race against Democratic gubernatorial front-runner state Attorney General Josh Stein.
The three-minute-plus video, Morgan said, is titled “Hard Steps” and “… is about my past and my vision for North Carolina’s future. I want people to know who I am, what I have been able to accomplish, and what I still want to do to make North Carolina a better place for all our people. My history, my integrity, and my values drive this campaign.”
The video has a child actor portraying Morgan as an eight-year-old Black student in 1964 who first integrated Trent Park Elementary School in New Bern. Years later, it shows a sixteen-year old Mike Morgan becoming the first Black drum major in a New Bern high school.
The video also notes that for the past 34 years, Morgan has served the state on the bench in various judicial capacities. That experience is what prepares him, he says, to be North Carolina’s next governor through the hard times.
“I know we can fix this, we just have to take those hard steps forward,” Morgan says in his campaign video. “Marching toward progress can make a lot of people uncomfortable, but being uncomfortable is God making us stretch ourselves, making us grow. So, if you’re ready to take those hard steps toward a brighter future for every North Carolinian, I’m ready to lead the way.”
While Justice Morgan was tugging at heartstrings with a heartwarming campaign video, his Democratic rival, Josh Stein, was attempting to reach voters through a strong campaign op-ed in the Raleigh News and Observer.
Titled “What Republicans are doing to democracy in NC keeps me up at night,” Stein reminded readers that next year at this time, they will be going to the polls to select a new governor. He also blasted the Republican-majority NC General Assembly for its skewed partisan voter districts, and its new laws designed to restrict voting.
“My challenge to you today—one year out from the 2024 election—is to keep the faith,” Stein wrote. “Keep your hope. Keep demanding your elected representatives stand for democracy. Keep organizing. Keep voting. Because some things are worth fighting for, no matter how tough it is. And yes, things in North Carolina right now are tough. But the people of North Carolina are worth fighting for. Our democracy is worth fighting for.”
Back over in the Republican race for governor, former Sixth District Congressman Mark Walker dropped out of the primary, trailing Mark Robinson’s projected 49%, to run for the newly-drawn Sixth District, which now includes all of Davidson, Davie, and Rowan counties and parts of Guilford, eastern Forsyth County, and Cabarrus County.
Political newcomer and former healthcare executive Jesse Thomas, his campaign for governor barely registering in the polls, has dropped out and decided to try to unseat Democratic NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who has served in office for the past 27 years.
And finally, former prosecutor Bill Graham, a former board member of the Jesse Helms Center, just recently entered the Republican race for governor as a staunch conservative. To back it up, his $5 million self-funded campaign launched its first 30-second statewide ad, promising that if he’s elected, he will push for the death penalty for drug dealers and human traffickers.
Candidate filing begins December 5 and ends December 15, 2023. The Democratic and Republican primaries are scheduled for March 5, 2024.