Josh Stein says he'll run for NC Attorney General in 2016

Published November 29, 2013

by Patrick Gannon, The Insider, published in News and Observer, November 27, 2013.

State Sen. Josh Stein, a Wake County Democrat, is eyeing the state attorney general’s office in 2016. Stein, in a phone interview Wednesday, confirmed his interest in taking over for N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is expected to run for governor.

Stein said his focus is on 2014, including picking up as many Democratic seats as possible in the state Senate and winning his own Senate race.

“If I do win re-election, I do intend to run for attorney general in 2016 so that I can put my eight years of experience as a senior deputy attorney general to work moving that office forward,” Stein said.

He currently works as an attorney at the Raleigh office of Smith Moore Leatherwood. Stein, 47, is in his third term representing Senate District 16, which includes parts of Raleigh, Cary and Morrisville. He is minority whip during the current two-year legislative session.

Stein is among the more vocal Senate Democrats, routinely speaking out against policies pushed by Republicans who control the chamber. In this year’s legislative session, one of his top successes was pushing through an amendment to the controversial voter ID legislation to require counties to maintain the same number of early voting hours for future elections that they had in the most recent elections.

He is also a top Democratic fundraiser. He recently held a big fundraiser for his Senate campaign that drew many high-profile Democrats.

Stein worked in the AG’s office from 2001 to 2008, where he headed the Consumer Protection Division, working in areas such as predatory lending, identity theft, telemarketing privacy, fraud and Internet safety. He resigned when he became a state senator in 2009. Before his work in the attorney general’s office, Stein worked as deputy chief of staff and legal counsel in the U.S. Senate.

Stein received a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College in 1988, a master of public policy from Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 1995 and a law degree from Harvard in 1995, according to Smith Moore Leatherwood’s website. He lives in Raleigh with his wife and three school-aged children.

Cooper, also a Democrat, hasn’t made it official, but he is widely believed to be preparing for a run against Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in 2016. Stein recently told The Washington Post he wouldn’t run against Cooper, either for governor or attorney general, but if Cooper runs for governor, he might want to replace him as attorney general.