Christian Bongiorno

Mark Robinson and Josh Stein are set to square off this Election Day in North Carolina’s Governor race. Robinson, the Republican nominee, is the state’s lieutenant governor — while Stein, the Democratic nominee, serves as the attorney general. If elected, Stein would be the first Jewish governor of North Carolina, while Robinson would be the first Black person to take the position. Regardless of your political affiliation or where you reside, you should keep your eyes on this race since both candidates have distinct backgrounds and could determine which presidential candidate will win the state in November. Take their stances on abortion into consideration — Robinson supports a six-week ban while Stein supports the practice in full. A KFF survey finds that one in eight Americans say that abortion is the top issue when they vote in November — therefore, both candidates’ stances on abortion could be pivotal in their race for governor.

Robinson picked up traction in 2018 after making a speech defending the Second Amendment at the Greensboro City Council. Robinson claimed that, when mass shootings occur, “law-abiding gun owners are the ‘first ones taxed and the last ones considered and the first ones punished.’” The speech went viral online, leading Robinson to launch a run for lieutenant governor in 2019. He won the race — becoming the first Black person to hold the position. Robinson has been linked to various controversial takes that led to skepticism on whether he’s too extreme for the position. Some of his unhinged takes include posting on Facebook that the Holocaust is a bunch of hogwash and calling the Civil Rights movement “crap.” Despite the controversy, Robinson won the nomination with nearly 65 percent of the vote.

Under current Gov. Roy Cooper, Stein was the head of the consumer protection division before joining North Carolina’s senate in 2016 and has earned the governor’s endorsement. Stein promised during his Super Tuesday speech that he would veto any bill restricting abortion access while calling out Robinson for his stances on the LGBTQ+ community and other topics. Stein’s time as Attorney General saw him go after opioid manufacturers and even sue the Trump Administration over the Muslim travel ban. Stein secured nearly 70 percent of the vote on Super Tuesday, propelling him to victory.

The Republicans were victorious in 11 out of the last 13 presidential elections in North Carolina. However, North Carolina is experiencing changing population demographics. The 2020 Census saw a more diverse population of residents in North Carolina emerge over the last decade. Republicans have questioned whether Robinson is too extreme for swing voters. In addition, Republican Consultant Paul Shumaker believes that Robinson will be a liability for Trump’s re-election campaign. Democrats hope to capitalize on Robinson’s extremeness and Stein’s political experience to convince voters to come to the polls. Strategist Morgan Jackson indicates that North Carolina’s residents like balance in government, meaning North Carolinians prefer one party in the governor’s office and the other in the state legislature so one party doesn’t have the most power, so a victory by Stein would keep the republican legislature in check. On the other hand, a Robinson victory would lead to an easier path for Republicans since the legislature is already under Republican control, and adding Robinson into the mix would increase their dominance in state politics.

I bet 20 bucks that you were thinking about why this column was written. Survey says to keep you informed on a current event. It’s important to pay attention to this race since both candidates are as different as can be. Also, this race deserves your attention since it could determine political power in the state. A Stein victory would maintain equilibrium while a Robinson victory equals total control of North Carolina. So get your popcorn ready and pay close attention to this political match that’s going down in the Tar Heel state this Election Day as you will see two candidates with distinct backgrounds battle it out.

Christian Bongiorno is a sophomore majoring in political science.

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