RALEIGH — N.C. State Treasurer Dale Folwell will run for governor in 2024, he announced while speaking at the Forsyth County GOP Convention in Clemmons on March 25.
“I chose this event out of respect for those whose shoulders have carried me in my political career,” said Folwell. “The root word of governor is to govern, and I am uniquely qualified to be the CEO of the largest business in North Carolina.”
Folwell also said his campaign motto will be, “The best governor money can’t buy.”
Some believe Folwell can win, such as Brent Woodcox, the senior policy counsel to Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden).
“If @DaleFolwell were to be the Republican nominee for Governor in 2024, he would essentially be the definition of ‘generic Republican.’ And you know what happens to generic Republicans in statewide races in NC? They win,” tweeted Woodcox.
Others, such as Sen. Danny Britt (R-Robeson), expressed concern the state would lose a good treasurer in a race that will be a “stomp down.”
“100$ side bet there is not a soul that can beat Lt. Governor (Mark) Robinson in a primary. We will lose what has been a fiscally strong Treasurer who will be nothing more than a speed bump in the primary. It will be a complete stomp down,” tweeted Britt in a thread about Folwell’s announcement.
The North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) attacked Folwell’s candidacy using similar “extreme and anti-LGBTQ” claims that the party has used against Robinson, North Carolina’s first black lieutenant governor who will be formally announcing his bid to become the state’s first black governor in April.
“Dale Folwell has used the Treasurer’s office to target LGBTQ state employees for political points and advance his own extreme views — putting job-killing divisiveness ahead of the people of North Carolina,” the NCDP’s tweet reads.
Folwell appears to have the backing of the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC), an organization that in past years has applauded the treasurer’s work. SEANC represents and protects the rights and benefits of 46,000 active and retired state employees.
The 64-year-old Folwell ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2012 before being elected treasurer in 2016. and he was reelected to the post in 2020. He also spent four terms in North Carolina House that included a term as speaker pro tempore.
Folwell’s entry into the race sets the stage for a primary with Robinson and perhaps former Rep. Mark Walker, who has also shown interest in making a bid for governor.
On the other side of the aisle, Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein announced he would run earlier this year. Gaston County Libertarian Mike Ross has also said he will be running.
Folwell is starting from behind in terms of money. Campaign filings show Robinson has amassed around $2.2 million, whereas Folwell only had around $47,000 as of December 2022.
Robinson will hold a rally to make his announcement on April 22 at Ace Speedway in Alamance County.
The choice of Ace Speedway as the venue is symbolic and highlights Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s broad use of executive orders to shutter schools businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In June 2020, Cooper and then-N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen shut down Ace Speedway, an open-air venue, through a temporary restraining order issued by a Cooper-appointed judge.
The shutdown of the speedway came after Cohen issued an initial abatement order to close down the speedway for allegedly violating Cooper’s order restricting mass gatherings. Ace Speedway did not let the shutdown go unchallenged and appealed the ruling.
Chuck Kitchen, the attorney for the speedway, has argued that Cooper personally targeted the racetrack and in past filings cited several other racetracks were operating unfettered by the governor.
In January 2021, a trial court judge ruled against an attempt to dismiss the case based on the speedway’s claim the shutdown had violated certain constitutional rights. Cohen’s successor, Kody Kinsley, is now named in the case.
North Carolina Court of Appeals three-judge panel unanimously upheld a trial court’s order in August 2022, ruling that the case of Kinsley v. Ace Speedway Racing can proceed.
“In this appeal, we are asked to decide whether Ace has presented colorable constitutional claims for which our courts could provide a remedy. We hold that Ace pled each of its constitutional claims sufficiently to survive the Secretary’s motion to dismiss,” Griffin wrote. “We affirm the trial court’s order.”
Griffin also noted. “This case makes us consider the use of overwhelming power by the State against the individual liberties of its citizens and how that use of power may be challenged.”
The N.C. Supreme Court has been asked to take on the case, but it has yet to be added to the court’s docket.