Statewide races among those on ballot as early voting starts today

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In addition to county commissioner and congressional candidates, local voters will see some statewide races on the primary runoff ballot. The second primary is July 17, and early voting starts today.
Republicans are vying for nominations in the races for lieutenant governor, commissioner of insurance, secretary of state and superintendent of public instruction. In the race for commissioner of labor, two Democrats seek their party’s nod.
Here are the candidates:
Labor commissioner
In the race for labor commissioner, three Democrats ran for the right to challenge incumbent Republican Cherie Berry. When the May primary was over, two of them, Marlowe Foster and John C. Brooks, had qualified for a runoff.
Brooks, 75, of Raleigh was labor commissioner from 1977 to 1993. In 1991, he fined a Hamlet chicken-processing plant more than $800,000 — the largest such penalty in state history — after saying the company’s safety violations contributed to a fire that killed 25 workers in 1990.
Foster, 39, of Raleigh, has been a state lobbyist for drug maker Pfizer and previously represented health insurance companies. He has said he would promote “fairness and transparency” in workplace safety inspections as well as “be a partner to business to help them achieve what they naturally want, a family-centered work environment.”
The labor commissioner is responsible for protecting the safety of the state’s 4 million-plus workers.
Lieutenant governor
With current Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton running for governor, his office is open. Linda Coleman, former state personnel director and state representative, won the Democratic primary. Dan Forest and Tony Gurley qualified for a runoff in the GOP primary.
Forest, 44, of Raleigh, is a former architect and the son of retiring U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick. He headed a conservative nonprofit and founded a Christian organization for young families. He has said he advocates a tough stance on illegal immigration, wants to encourage home schooling and more charter schools and also wants to eventually eliminate the state’s corporate income tax, but sharply cut tax rates in the meantime. Forest also would seek to end all government incentives to targeted companies.
Gurley, 56, owns a Raleigh pharmacy and is a partner in a Raleigh law firm he established, though he doesn’t practice law. Gurley has said he wants to bring Tea Party values to Raleigh and would help parents educate their children in more charter schools or with tuition tax credits allowing them to afford private schools. Gurley said his small-business background tops the experience that Mills and Forest tout.
Secretary of state
Of four Republicans who sought the right to challenge incumbent Democrat Elaine Marshall in the fall, Kenn Gardner and Ed Goodwin qualified for a runoff.
Gardner, 54, of Raleigh, is a former chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners and an architect. Gardner touts his credentials as a lifelong Republican and a small business owner and says his top priorities if elected would be to attract and keep jobs. He says he would reduce red tape and government paperwork to make it easier for businesses to succeed in North Carolina.
Goodwin, 59, of Edenton is a Chowan County commissioner and farmer with a military background including work as a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent. As a farmer and entrepreneur, Goodwin says he has experience creating jobs. And having been involved in starting four businesses, he says on his website, he “recognizes the correlation between getting government out of the way and job growth.”
Public instruction
In the May primary, Republicans Richard Alexander and John Tedesco advanced to a runoff for the opportunity to represent their party against incumbent Democrat June Atkinson for superintendent of public instruction.
Alexander, 49, of Monroe, is a public school teacher. He has said he supports outsourcing some tasks, including getting private businesses to teach driver education. Alexander also favors a long-running trend by governors to diminish the powers of the elected superintendent and said that, if elected, he would work to put himself out of the job established by the state constitution so that governors could appoint their own education secretary. He wants lawmakers to devolve more decision-making to local school boards.
Tedesco, 37, was elected to the Wake County school board in 2009 with other conservatives who later voted to scrap a decade-old busing program in the state’s largest school district. Last year, he took a job with a start-up organization that advocates for education reforms sought by conservatives. He has said he disagrees with those who favor diminishing or eliminating the state schools superintendent’s job, which he believes requires “somebody with the critical skill sets to manage both the administrative role … and somebody with the political savvy to be able to work with our legislators on behalf of our schools and not be marginalized.”
Insurance commissioner
Mike Causey and Richard Morgain qualified in the May primary for a runoff with the winner facing incumbent Democrat Wayne Goodwin.
Causey, 61, of Greensboro, is a former insurance agent and political consultant who failed in three elections between 1992 and 2000 to unseat former Democratic Commissioner Jim Long. Causey has said consumers are both paying too much for health and property insurance and have few choices due to too little competition. He said he would establish a consumer advocate in the department to help consumers resolve disputes with insurers.
Morgan, 59, is a Moore County insurance broker whose rise to become House co-speaker with Democrat Jim Black in 2003 fractured legislative Republicans. He ran four years ago for state schools superintendent and in 2010 for state Senate. He said he would be a consumer advocate if elected. In a statement to the N.C. Center for voter education, Morgan said he would seek to cut bureaucracy, take politics out of setting insurance rates and “get needless insurance mandates off the backs of business and out of the way of creating jobs.”