Candidates facing off for positions on North Carolina’s Council of State fought one another to the very end, with several tight races.
Republican Mark Robinson was elected the state’s first African American lieutenant governor in unofficial results.
Republicans also will likely hold six of the 10 Council of State seats, according to results with 99.96% of precincts reporting.
Becoming a member of North Carolina’s Council of State comes with a $136,699 annual salary for the nine positions underneath the governor.
Robinson ran against Democrat Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley and won 52%-48%.
“We’re feeling real good, “ he told The News & Observer in between interviews Tuesday night. “Of course it’s a whirlwind right now.”
Not only did Robinson become the first African American to fill the seat but also the second African American to hold a position on the Council of State.
Additionally, he is the first African American Republican to win a major seat since the 1800s.
The lieutenant governor, a position with a two-term limit, leads the state Senate but only votes during a tie. The current lieutenant governor, Dan Forest, made rare appearances in the chamber.
Forest spent two terms in office before running unsuccesfully against Roy Cooper for governor.
That left 15 candidates facing off in the primary for the two parties’ nominations that ultimately came down to Holley and Robinson.
Robinson, 52, a Greensboro Republican, became known around the nation as an outspoken gun rights advocate who spoke out at his city’s council meeting. A video of him asking the council to stand up for his Second Amendment rights went viral. He has no prior political experience.
Holley, 68, a Raleigh Democrat, has spent four terms in the state House of Representatives and 25 years as a state employee.
She is a history maker in her own right as one of the first students to attend the desegregated Enloe High School before graduating from Howard University.
Josh Stein said Tuesday night he is confident he will retain his seat as attorney general after leading 50.1% to 49.9% over his opponent, Jim O’Neill.
Stein spoke around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday at the N.C. Democratic Party Headquarters.
“Given our margin, I am confident about my reelection,” Stein said. “We’ll wait until all the votes are counted, that’s how democracy works.”
Stein, 54, is about to finish his first term as attorney general, succeeding now-Gov. Roy Cooper. He had worked under Cooper as senior deputy director of consumer affairs. In 2009, he ran and won a seat on the state Senate representing a portion of Wake County.
Given the coronavirus pandemic, the North Carolina Democratic Party held a subdued election night event for only party officials and the media.
Stein noted that he was watching results at his home in Raleigh, before coming to the headquarters to speak. Like other Democrats, Stein made an appeal for bipartisanship, saying he would be the attorney general for all North Carolinians.
His opponent, O’Neill, also 54, kept a close race against Stein throughout the night. O’Neill has spent more than two decades in the Forsyth County District Attorney’s office. Since 2009, he’s been the county’s lead prosecutor.
He told The News & Observer in a written statement late Tuesday that the race wasn’t over.
“There are still tens of thousands of ballots that have not been counted,” O’Neill said. “Every voter’s voice must still be heard.”
Beth Wood, a Democrat, is poised to remain as state auditor after Tuesday’s election.
She was leading against her opponent, Anthony “Tony” Street, 50.8%-49.1% at midnight.
Wood, 66, has served as state auditor since 2009. She holds an auditing degree from East Carolina University. Before obtaining the auditor’s seat she worked under the state auditor and in the treasurer’s office.
Street, 39, a Brunswick County resident, worked in construction and kept up all his own books. He has a master’s degree in public administration and studied business, economics, finance and budgets.
Commissioner of Agriculture
Steve Troxler will remain North Carolina’s Commissioner of Agriculture after leading his opponent Jenna Wadsworth, 54%-46%.
Troxler, 68, a Guilford Republican, has held his seat since 2005. He also owns and operates Troxler Farms in Browns Summit, where he grows soybeans, tobacco, wheat and vegetables.
Wadsworth was criticized for being a hobby farmer. The 31-year-old grew up on her grandfather’s farm in Johnston County, where her family raised corn, cattle, hogs, soybeans, tobacco and cotton.
She serves on the Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors.
Wadsworth set herself apart from Troxler, advocating for the LGBT community and the legalization of marijuana as a way to drive the state’s economy.
Commissioner of Insurance
Commissioner of Insurance Mike Causey will continue serving the state in his role after winning his election against Wayne Goodwin, 52%-48%.
Both Causey and Goodwin have held this seat and have become political foes over the years.
Causey, 70, a Republican, was the incumbent this year after ousting Goodwin in 2016. Goodwin had held the position since 2009.
Prior to being the insurance commissioner, Goodwin, 53, had been an attorney and elected for two-terms to the state House of Representatives.
Causey is a military veteran who spent 25 years working in insurance.
Commissioner of Labor
Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry made sure everyone knew her name for the past 19 years by posting her photo in every elevator in the state. But she announced her retirement and didn’t run for re-election.
On Tuesday, Republican Josh Dobson led the race to take the open job over his opponent, Democrat Jessica Holmes, 51%-49%.
Dobson, 39, is a four-term member of the N.C. House of Representatives representing Avery, McDowell and Mitchell counties. Prior to that role, he served on the McDowell Board of Commissioners.
Holmes, 36, is former chairman of the Wake County commissioners after being the youngest person ever elected to the board. Holmes has mostly spent her career as an attorney advocating for labor and employment laws.
Secretary of State
After 24 years in office, Elaine Marshall will continue serving North Carolina as Secretary of State.
Marshall retained her seat after winning against businessman E.C. Sykes with 51%-49% of the vote.
Marshall, 74, a Democrat, beat NASCAR legend Richard Petty in 1996 to become the first woman to hold the office and a state executive office.
Sykes, 60, a Republican, ran against Marshall, saying that the office needed new ideas and better customer service.
Marshall was criticized by her opponents for having been in office too long.
She responded to those critiques, taking the stage at the Democratic Party headquarters as the clock struck midnight.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Marshall said of the voters’ pick.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Republican Catherine Truitt will become North Carolina’s superintendent of public instruction after winning her election against Jen Mangrum, 51% to 49%.
The seat became available after Superintendent Mark Johnson unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor after one term in office.
Truitt, 49, spent 10 years in the classroom teaching English to middle and high school students. She then worked for the International Center for Leadership in Education, coaching under-performing schools. But in 2015, then-Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Truitt to serve as his senior education advisor. She now serves as chancellor of Western Governors University North Carolina.
Mangrum, 56, a Democrat, is the daughter of two elementary school teachers and is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She previously, but unsuccessfully ran for N.C. Senate against Senate Leader Phil Berger.
Dale Folwell remains North Carolina’s treasurer after winning the election against Ronnie Chatterji with nearly 53% of the vote.
Folwell, 61, a Winston-Salem native, is a certified public accountant who became the state treasurer in 2017. He is the first Republican to hold the position in 140 years. Before running for treasurer, Folwell served four-terms in the N.C. House of Representatives.
Folwell suffered from but overcame COVID-19 earlier this year.
He ran against Chatterji, 42, a Durham Democrat and a tenured Duke University business and public policy professor. A first-time candidate, Chatterji served on President Barack Obama’s economic advisory board.