Republican Lt Gov hopefuls make their case at Raleigh forum

Former state Sen. Deanna Ballard speaks at the NC Values Coalition Lt. Gov. forum on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. North State Journal

RALEIGH — Seven of the 11 Republicans running for lieutenant governor in the upcoming Mar. 5 primary gathered at Christ Baptist Church in northern Raleigh on Tuesday, Feb. 13 for a candidate forum hosted by the conservative NC Values Coalition. 

The group said it invited eight candidates they considered as performing the best in terms of their campaigning and fundraising.  Seven accepted the invite; Rivera Douthit, Allen Mashburn, Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page, former state Sen. Deanna Ballard, Seth Woodall, Hal Weatherman, and state Rep. Jeff Elmore.

Steve Noble and Courtney Geels pose questions to Lt. Gov. candidates at the NC Values Coalition forum in Raleigh on Feb. 13, 2024. North State Journal

The questions were posed to the candidates by well-known radio host Steve Noble and Courtney Geels, the group’s grassroots director. The group asked each of the candidates six questions, ranging from their personal experience and why they’re seeking the office to questions about abortion, education, and parents’ rights.

Douthit said she was told by God to run for the position and cited her time as a critical care nurse and small business owner as experience she brings to being the state’s lieutenant governor. One issue she said she would also focus on was fighting sex trafficking in the state.

Mashburn, a pastor from the Sandhills, said he became active in state issues after the COVID shutdowns and said he was running because the state and nation are in spiritual warfare.

Page – first elected in 1998 as a sheriff – is the most experienced elected official in the race and he was running to do what he’s been doing in his native Rockingham County by protecting the Constitution, citizens, and families.

Ballard said her career has been threaded with a call to service and spoke authoritatively about the boards the office serves on: the State Board of Education and the Community College board.

Woodall, the second candidate from Rockingham County in the race, said it was his experience as an attorney and business owner that set him apart. He said he employs more people than other candidates in the race combined and wants to run the state like a business. 

Weatherman, known for a long career as chief of staff to former Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, said he was running to fight for families against the woke agenda and that over the course of his campaign has completed a tour of all 100 counties.

Elmore, a six-term member of the N.C. House, said being Lt. Gov. is a liaison position and he was well-suited to that role. In addition, he said he’s familiar with state government and was one of the chief budget writers in the chamber.

On the questions regarding education, the candidates all expressed support for school choice and combating “indoctrination” in the public school system.

Ballard said one way to achieve that goal would be to strengthen penalties in the Parents’ Bill of Rights legislation and strengthen existing obscenity laws.

“Those two things can move the needle along with accountability and training for school boards,” she added.

Mashburn says he would lobby the General Assembly and that it was an educational matter, not a Christian matter.

Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page speaks at the NC Values Coalition Lt. Gov. forum on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. North State Journal

Page said we need to “get back to basics” and hold those in education accountable.

Woodall said he would work collectively between the governor’s office and the General Assembly to benefit students.

Weatherman offered one of the lengthiest answers.

He said that “DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) was never in legislation. It was done by executive order, the first day I’ll ask the governor to remove it from every school in our state.”

He added that SEL (social and emotional learning) was implemented after Columbine and said he understood the intent, but it’s been “hijacked” by the left.

Elmore said he’s been a teacher for 23 years and that part of the difference is understanding standards and curriculum.

Douthit said that those in education must have moral standards and there’s no point in having a law if people don’t follow it.

On the topic of abortion, the candidates framed their positions in contrast to the favorite in the Democratic primary, Mecklenburg state Sen. Rachel Hunt, who is running to “promote abortion” according to the panel’s hosts.

Most of the candidates said they personally believe life begins at conception, with Ballard saying she has a voting record backing up her position and added that moving the needle to a 12-week limit was better than staying at a 20-week limit.

Hal Weatherman speaks at the NC Values Coalition Lt. Gov. forum on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. North State Journal

Woodall and Weatherman both said they would be supportive of legislation going further than 12 weeks.

Elmore said he would not be here without two strong women choosing life and that Hunt even voted against the state legislature’s “born alive” bill.

Mashburn added that Hunt would be the “Kamala Harris of the East Coast” but cautioned that Republicans needed to work on their messaging around the issue of life.

Not appearing at the forum were Marlenis Hernandez Novoa, Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill, Earnest T. Reeves, and Peter Boykin.

The forum will be broadcast by the NC Values Coalition on their social media channels on Feb. 15, at 7 p.m.

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Matt Mercer is the editor in chief of North State Journal and can be reached at [email protected].