Conservative picks for Council of State
By: Steve Rader
Most voters have little information on the races for the Council of State. These are statewide positions with important policy functions, and who collectively act as a brake on some of the governor's powers. Most have little campaign money are little attention from the media, however. All of the conservatives are on the GOP side, and in some races there is more than one conservative. Here is a rundown in the primary:
Most of the 11 candidates are at least generally conservative, and the two that are regarded as frontrunners have solid records to back that up. Hal Weatherman was chief of staff for staunchly conservative former Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, and more recently has been very active in promoting election integrity. State Representative Jeff Elmore is one of the more conservative members of the NC House who has been a dependable vote on key issues.
With six candidates running, the two regarded as frontrunners come from different wings of the Republican Party. Former legislator Jeff Tarte was one of the most liberal Republicans in the General Assembly when he served. Charles Dingee, a small businessman and former banker, on the other hand, sports a more conservative record.
Commissioner of Agriculture
Incumbent Steve Troxler is very popular with farmers and will thus be difficult to beat. His mixed political record such as having served as chairman of Farmers for John Edwards, a liberal Democrat, when trial lawyer Edwards beat conservative US Senator Lauch Faircloth, a former agricultural leader, has always rankled many conservatives. He is being challenged by Colby Hammonds.
NC Commissioner of Insurance
Solid conservative incumbent Mike Causey has established a strong record of looking out for citizens, even when he had to fight the legislative leadership openly to do it. Causey just came through for citizens again by rejecting the massive rate increases proposed by the property insurance companies. His most serious challenger is Robert Brawley, a conservative former House member recruited to run by legislative leadership who want someone more controllable by them.
Commissioner of Labor
With four candidates, two are clear frontrunners and from different wings of the party. Luke Farley is an experienced labor lawyer and a staunch conservative. He is endorsed by conservative longtime Labor Commissioner Cheri Berry. Jon Hardister is a current state representative with one of the most liberal voting records on the Republican side. He is endorsed by the current one-term Labor Commissioner, who himself came from the more liberal side of the House GOP caucus.
Secretary of State
Of the three candidates, frontrunners Chad Brown and Christine Villaverde are both relatively conservative, with county commissioner Brown having the most relevant experience.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Incumbent Catherine Truitt raised conservative eyebrows from the beginning of her term when she appointed a liberal Democrat as her chief deputy, and it has gone downhill from there with conservatives. Truitt has recently received the support of liberal Republican US Senator Thom Tillis. She is getting a spirited challenge from conservative former teacher Michelle Morrow who wants to take “woke” out of education.
All three candidates are substantial but one has a liberal background. A. J. Daoud is a successful businessman who owns a multi-state chain of funeral homes and is a longtime conservative Republican activist, holding many positions within the party over the years. Rachel Johnson is a CPA and wife of a former Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction. Brad Briner is an employee of the financial network of anti-gun crusader Michael Bloomberg. Briner voted in the Democrat primary as recently as 2020.
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