NC Council of State races

Published October 7, 2016

by Matt Caulder, Capitol Connection, October 6, 2016.

With the election just over a month away, and most eyes on the presidential race, it’s easy to lose focus on many of the other statewide races, but those elections can have a big impact on North Carolinians’ lives.

That’s because the offices at stake have a wide range of responsibilities, including the state’s fiscal health, the prosecution of the law, and the efficient administration of state and local governmental bodies and agencies.

In addition to the race for governor, there are nine other statewide races that make up the Council of State.

The November winners will take over the Offices of the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, the State Auditor, and the Attorney General; and the Departments of Agriculture, Labor and Public Instruction,.

Currently the office of lieutenant governor, commissioner of agriculture and commissioner of labor are held by Republicans; Democrats hold the other offices.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is running for re-election in 2016 against Democrat Linda Coleman.

In North Carolina, the lieutenant governor officer’s primary responsibility is to preside over the state Senate. It is the only elected position to have powers in both the legislative and executive branches of state government.

The race for attorney general is interesting in that long-time Attorney General Roy Cooper has decided to not run for re-election, but instead is challenging Gov. Pat McCrory.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who has been in office since 1997, is running against Republican challenger Michael LaPaglia.

The Secretary of State is charged with overseeing many of the economic and business-related operations of the state government, such as registrations of professional bodies like corporations or charities.

With Cooper running for governor against McCrory, two state legislators are stepping up to become the next attorney general.

Republican Sen. Buck Newton is running against Sen. Josh Stein, the Democrat.

The attorney general is head of the state Department of Justice and is charged with providing legal representation and advice to all state agencies.

State Treasurer Janet Cowell is not running for re-election in 2016, leaving the seat open for either Democrat Dan Blue III, son of Sen. Dan Blue, and Republican Dale Folwell, who was most recently head of the state’s Division of Employment Security.

The treasurer is charged with overseeing the financial operations of the state, including its $90 billion pension fund and the State Health Plan, while also acting as fiscal adviser to the state and local governments.

State Auditor Beth Wood, a Democrat, is running for re-election against Republican Chuck Stuber, former FBI agent and chief investigator for the State Board of Elections.

The auditor’s office is considered to be a fiscal watchdog charged with overseeing and reviewing the financial accounts of state agencies, including the public universities.

Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, a Republican, is running for re-election against Democrat Walter Smith, who is going for his second challenge against Troxler this November.

The Commissioner of Agriculture oversees the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as well as serving as the chairman of the state Board of Agriculture.

Wayne Goodwin, the Democratic Commissioner of Insurance, is running for re-election against Republican challenger Mike Causey, for another term.

The Commissioner of Insurance is charged with regulating the insurance industry in the state and overseeing insurance professionals in the state.

The incumbent Commissioner of Labor, Cherie Berry, is running against Democrat Charles Meeker for another term as the head of the Department of Labor. It is charged with safeguarding the “health, safety and general well-being” of more than 4 million workers.

Meeker formerly served as the mayor of Raleigh.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, a Democrat, is running for re-election against Mark Johnson in November.

The superintendent serves as the head of the Department of Public Instruction, overseeing the public school system in the state.