RALEIGH — A former factory worker and day care operator whose gun rights speech before the Greensboro City Council in 2018 vaulted him to prominence among conservatives won the Republican nomination for North Carolina’s lieutenant governor on Tuesday in a crowded field.
First-time candidate Mark Robinson also exceeded the 30% threshold needed to win outright and avoid a runoff.
Current state Sen. Andy Wells was second in a primary that also included current N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, a former school board member in Forsyth County; former U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers; and former state Rep. Scott Stone.
Robinson’s 2018 recorded speech before the Greensboro council went viral, making him a nationwide speaker.
“The majority of people in this city are law abiding,” Robinson told council members, “and they follow the law and they want their constitutional right to bear arms.
“I am the majority! A law-abiding citizen who’s never shot anybody, never committed a serious crime, never committed a felony!
“I’ve never done anything like that, but it seems like every time we have one of these shootings, nobody wants to put the blame where it goes, which is at the shooter’s feet. You want to put it at my feet!”
What got Robinson so riled? A suggestion by Mayor Nancy Vaughan in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting that February that the city cancel a gun show at the city-owned Greensboro Coliseum.
The council couldn’t legally cancel the gun show and instead voted to donate the rental money it collected from show organizers it to Gun Stoppers, a program that gets illegal guns off the street.
Democrats appeared headed to a May runoff for their lieutenant governor’s nomination, as state Rep. Yvonne Holley of Raleigh led the five-candidate field but stayed below 30%. State Sen. Terry Van Duyn of Asheville finished second, so she could officially call for a runoff with Holley.
Current Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a Republican, won Tuesday’s GOP nomination for governor.
In the races to succeed Johnson as state schools chief, UNCG education professor Jen Mangrum won the Democratic primary over four other candidates. In the Republican primary, Catherine Truitt, the North Carolina chancellor for Western Governors University, defeated state Rep. Craig Horn.
In other Council of State primaries, Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill won the Republican attorney general’s nomination over Sam Hayes and Christine Mumma. O’Neill will face Democratic incumbent Josh Stein in November.
Democratic State Auditor Beth Wood and Republican N.C. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey of Guilford County both won their primaries. Wood beat Democrat Luis Toledo while Causey defeated Ronald Pierce, as he did in 2016.
Wood will take on Republican Tony Street, who won Tuesday’s nomination over Tim Hoegemeyer. Former Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, now the state Democratic Party chairman, is his party’s nominee to challenge Causey. Causey unseated Goodwin in 2016.
Republican Josh Dobson, a state legislator, defeated Chuck Stanley and Pearl Burris Floyd for the nomination for labor commissioner. Current Commissioner Cherie Berry isn’t running reelection. Dobson will take on Democrat Jessica Holmes.
Republican E.C. Sykes beat Chad Brown and Michael LaPaglia to win the nomination for secretary of state. Incumbent Elaine Marshall is the Democratic nominee.
The Democratic challenger to N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, a Browns Summit Republican, will be Jenna Wadsworth, who defeated fellow Democrats Donovan Alexander Watson and Walter Smith.
In the Democratic primary for N.C. treasurer, Ronnie Chatterji narrowly defeated Matt Leatherman, and Dimple Ajmera. The Republican nominee is incumbent Dale Folwell of Winston-Salem.