Three candidates running in the Republican primary for governor of North Carolina

Dale Folwell, Bill Graham, and Mark Robinson are running in the Republican primary for governor of North Carolina on March 5, 2024. The general election is on Nov. 5, 2024. Incumbent Roy Cooper (D) is term-limited.

The National Review’s Audrey Feinberg wrote, “North Carolina’s gubernatorial race is shaping up to be one of the most expensive and competitive statewide contests of the 2024 cycle, and gives Republicans a new opportunity to win control of a governor’s mansion that has historically been held by Democrats.”

Folwell was elected North Carolina’s treasurer in 2016 and was in the state house from 2005 to 2013. Folwell has focused on his record, saying, “no other candidate for Governor has such an extensive background in public service and unique experience in negotiating with legislators to make government more effective.” EMPAC, the political action committee of the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC), endorsed Folwell.

Graham, a private attorney and former prosecutor, ran for governor in 2008. Graham has highlighted education, taxes, and crime. Graham said he would support the “death penalty for fentanyl dealers and human traffickers[,] increase mandatory prison terms for violent offenders[, and] establish a statewide crime task force to assist local law enforcement in combating gangs and illegal drug activity.” U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) endorsed Graham.

Robinson was elected North Carolina’s lieutenant governor in 2020. A former factory worker, Robinson gained media attention in 2018 for a widely-shared video of a speech he made in support of gun rights. Robinson has focused on his personal background and upbringing. His campaign website said Robinson went from being “the 9th of 10 in a poor household filled with alcoholism and domestic violence to the first Black Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina.” In June 2023, former President Donald Trump (R) said he would endorse Robinson.

Folwell and Graham have criticized Robinson. Folwell said Robinson “normally attacks women, Jews and other groups” and said Robinson is “history’s latest example of a person rising to power telling people who to hate.” Graham said Robinson “suggested the Holocaust wasn’t real, downplayed the Nazis, and promoted Hitler propaganda.”

In December 2023, Robinson said, “I don’t have to listen to those in my own party who have watched as my back has been whipped by our enemies. Who refuse to stand up with me because they’re cowards.”

Democrats have controlled North Carolina’s governorship for 26 of the past 30 years. Former Gov. Pat McCrory—the only Republican elected to the position in that period—served from 2013 to 2017.

As of January 2024, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball and Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzalez rated the election a Toss-up, while The Cook Political Report rated it Lean Democratic.

The filing deadline was Dec. 15, 2023.