NC Attorney General Josh Stein campaigns in Washington

Published 3:35 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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North Carolina Attorney General and Democratic frontrunner for Governor, Josh Stein, visited Washington on Monday, Feb. 26 to meet and speak with local voters. 

Eight days away from the primary election on Tuesday, March 5, Stein’s visit was no coincidence. His presence in Washington shows how competitive this year’s gubernatorial race will be. What’s at stake for Stein and other Democratic candidates for governor is the possibility that Republicans could have a governor in office and control the General Assembly. 

Because current Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has served two consecutive terms, he is ineligible to run for re-election. Therefore, Stein chose to run as the party’s strongest contender against who he feels is the Republican Party’s strongest contender, current North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson. 

Stein spoke on several statewide issues; gerrymandering, education, healthcare, encouraging young people to vote and abortion. 

North Carolina’s gubernatorial race will be one to watch as laws on abortion could change. 

In May 2023, the Republican supermajority in the General Assembly overrode a veto from Cooper on a bill that bans abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is a reduction from a bill that banned abortion after 20 weeks. The ban allows exceptions for cases of rape and incest up to 20 weeks of pregnancy and fatal or life-threatening fetal anomalies up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. It also allows abortions for ectopic pregnancies and in cases where the life of the mother is at risk. 

On Monday, Stein said should he be elected he will veto any legislation that limits women’s reproductive rights whether it’s In Vitro Fertilization, contraception and/or abortion. He further said winning the governorship is an “insufficient success,” because the Republican supermajority “needs to be broken.”  

Robinson, however, would support “heartbeat” legislation, according to his office. This type of legislation could ban an abortion after a “heartbeat” is detected – but with the same exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. 

In Beaufort County, Representative Keith Kidwell filed a bill in March banning abortion at conception known as the Human Life Protection Act of 2023 (HB533). It was his third attempt to see a pro-life bill pass through the General Assembly. 

Stein’s visit to Washington gives Marlene McCabe, chair of the Beaufort County Democratic Party and Margaret Rian, secretary of the local Democratic Party and chair of the Gilead precinct hope that Eastern North Carolina will not continue to be the “redheaded stepchild this side of I-95,” Rian said. It is their hope that he will not forget about this area should he be elected in November. 

“I hoping that is the case that politicians will come to realize that rural America is just as important as urban America even though we have a sparser population. We should not be ignored,” Rian said. In her view, Beaufort County’s biggest issue is economics. She would like to see more industry come to the area. 

McCabe said she and others felt proud to see Stein in Washington and to see him run for Governor. In her view, gerrymandering is Beaufort County’s largest issue. “We have the hardest time to even turn purple here in Beaufort County,” she said.