GOP wave capturing statewide races

November 10, 2016 GMT

A wave led by presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared to be carrying Republican candidates to victory in most Council of State races Tuesday night.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, three Republicans on the 10-member group of statewide officials, each won re-election, according to unofficial results. Republican Dale Folwell captured the open state treasurer seat, and GOP candidates also were ahead of Democratic incumbents in the races for education superintendent and insurance commissioner.

So far, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is the only Democrat to retain her seat, topping Republican Michael LaPaglia 52 to 48 percent.

The attorney general’s race remains too close to call between Republican Buck Newton and Josh Stein. The race was also tight for state auditor between incumbent Democrat Beth Wood and Republican Chuck Stuber, a former FBI agent.

Forest defeated Democrat Linda Coleman in a rematch of 2012 with 53 percent of the vote, while Troxler topped Walter Smith Jr., a farmer and former Boonveille mayor, by 56 to 44 percent, according to unofficial results. Berry downed former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, capturing 56 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, Folwell, a former state lawmaker and director of the state Division of Employment Security, defeated Raleigh attorney Dan Blue III in the race for state treasurer, capturing 53 percent of the vote. Incumbent Treasurer Janet Cowell didn’t seek re-election.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, three-term Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson was trailing Republication Mark Johnson Jr., a school board member in Winston-Salem, 51 percent to 49 percent, according to unofficial results.

Atkinson conceded defeat in a tweet Wednesday night.

Johnson has stressed the need for students to be better prepared for college or the workforce upon graduation, and he spoke out about “over-testing” students and his opposition of the Common Core curriculum.

Atkinson stressed more education funding to recruit and retain the best teachers.

Republican Mike Causey was leading Democratic Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin 51 to 49 percent in a rematch from 2012.

In the race for the attorney general seat Roy Cooper vacated to run for governor, Stein was less than 20,000 votes ahead of Newton, according to unofficial results.

Stein served four terms as a state senator representing Wake County before resigning in the spring. Both he and Newton, a senator from Wilson County, have vowed to help eliminate or shorten the turnaround time in the State Crime Lab.

Each was also clear that he would uphold the Constitution and defend North Carolina laws that they don’t necessarily agree with, an obvious reference to current Cooper, whose office refused to defend controversial House Bill 2 and other laws he deemed unconstitutional.

Newton, who is currently serving his third term in the state senate, has been a supporter of House Bill 2, while Stein has called for its repeal.