Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson claims Republican gubernatorial primary

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, right, greets his supporters with his wife, Yolanda, during his primary election party at the Koury Convention Center Sheraton in Greensboro. Robinson won the Republican nomination for governor and will face Attorney General Josh Stein in the general election. (PJ Ward-Brown / North State Journal)

RALEIGH — Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a former factory worker whose viral speech to his hometown city council in 2018 catapulted him to prominence, won Tuesday’s Republican gubernatorial primary and will face Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein in the general election in November.

Robinson, who lost jobs to the North American Free Trade Agreement and entered personal bankruptcy, used a four-minute speech defending gun rights and lamenting the “demonizing” of police officers before the Greensboro City Council to spark his political career. He became the state’s first black lieutenant governor two years later, and Donald Trump endorsed him for governor last weekend at the former president’s rally in Greensboro.

After being elected lieutenant governor, Robinson spearheaded a task force report alleging that some teachers had assigned young pupils inappropriate reading materials on racism and sexuality. In 2021, he criticized efforts to teach LGBTQ+ issues in sex education, associating gay and transgender people with “filth.” His remarks led to calls for his resignation, but he defended his words, saying he was referring to sexually explicit books, not people.

Registered Republican Paul Babski, 54, an architect from Apex, said Robinson’s life history played a significant role in why he voted for him in the GOP primary on Tuesday.

“I’ve heard a couple of his speeches and his story,” Babski said. “And I like his statement that he’s working and will work on bringing manufacturing jobs back to the state.”

Republican Governors Association Chairman and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued a statement on Robinson’s primary win.

North Carolina families want someone whose conservative policies will deliver results by expanding opportunity, security and freedom,” said Lee. “From investing in safe neighborhoods to driving economic prosperity, Mark Robinson will put the people of North Carolina first. This is in stark contrast from the Democrats’ ideas and agenda that have failed America at the federal level and will fail North Carolina at the state level. The RGA congratulates Mark Robinson on his win and we look forward to supporting him in the general election.”