Dan Forest will hold campaign kick off rally in August

Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest poses for a portrait in his office in the Hawkins-Hartness House on Wednesday, May 17, 2017.
RALEIGH — Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest will formally begin his 2020 campaign for governor next month at a weekend rally.

The campaign has opened up free ticket registration for the event which will begin at 2pm on Saturday Aug. 17 at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds.

According to the site, Forest will focus “on a message of unity over division and decency over incivility.”

Forest is a Raleigh architect who was first elected lieutenant governor in 2012. He won re-election four years later and is the highest-ranking GOP executive branch official in North Carolina government since Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s 2016 victory. Cooper is seeking re-election.

A recent poll by Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling showed Cooper with a slight edge over Forest with 45% of registered voters favoring Cooper and 41% favoring Forest. In the poll release, PPP said, “We also find a close race for Governor, with Roy Cooper leading Dan Forest 45-41. This represents a significant tightening from PPP’s last poll of the race in January when Cooper led 47-35. The movement since then is due to Forest consolidating his support among Republican leaning voters.” The poll surveyed 610 registered voters on June 17th and 18th. The margin of error was +/-4.0% and 29% of the respondents were online.

While Forest has been raising campaign money for an expected gubernatorial run, he described his campaign six months ago as an “exploratory committee” for governor. A campaign news release on Tuesday said the “exploratory” language has now been dropped.

The AP contributed to this report.