Attorney General: Stein vs. Newton

by | Jun 6, 2016 | 2016 Elections, Carolina Strategic Analysis, Features, NC Politics, Social Issues | 8 comments

Attorney General race: State Sen. Josh Stein (D) vs. State Sen. Buck Newton (R)

The joke is that “AG” stands for “Aspiring Governor.” For that reason, this is a race to be watched closely, as being elected Attorney General is often a steppingstone to the governorship. The candidates for this contest offer a sharp contrast and a battle between old and new North Carolina.

First, some background: Roy Cooper is leaving office after four terms. So formidable was Cooper as a candidate that he went unchallenged back in 2012. Thus, this is an open seat race and for Republicans an opportunity to take back an office they haven’t won since the 19th century.

The Democratic nominee is Josh Stein, a State Senator who represents Raleigh and Cary. In the Senate, Stein compiled a reliably liberal voting record but has moved to the center for the campaign. Stein is the candidate of New North Carolina, urban and progressive.

Representing Old North Carolina is the Republican nominee, State Senator Buck Newton of Wilson, whose district is in the eastern part of the state. Newton is a reliable social conservative, an advocate of HB 2, and ready to sue the federal government at the drop of a hat if he perceives them as trampling on the constitutional rights of Tar Heels.

So, who has the edge here? The race should be tight, but right now things seem to be leaning Stein’s way. Like most Democrats running for Council of State, Stein should be able to depend on a number of rural voters who consistently split their tickets. Strange though it may seem, there will be more than a few Trump/Stein voters.

Secondly, Stein has a big advantage in one very important aspect of any campaign: money. Stein has been a very successful fundraiser and on that front is blowing Newton out of the water. Newton doesn’t have to match Stein in amount of money raised, but right now the financial disparity is a bit worrisome.

One red flag for Stein: his primary victory over Marcus Williams was a narrow one, 53-47, possibly a result of Stein saving up money for the general election. A less benign possibility is that voters resisted the candidate due to his recognizably Jewish last name. While the latter scenario is less likely, it’s possible Stein will turn out to be a weaker candidate than many have presumed. A similar underperformance in November will mean an Attorney General Buck Newton.

Polls show the race very tight. The latest PPP poll shows Stein leading Newton 39%-38%. While this is an encouraging result for Newton, this isn’t a pure toss-up race. It tilts, ever so slightly, to Stein – mostly due to the financial disparity between the candidates.

Race Rating: Tilts Democratic

2012 Result
100.0% Cooper

Voter Registration
40.3% Democratic
30.5% Republican
28.7% Unaffiliated

70.3% White
22.3% Black
7.4% Other

Results in Other Elections

2014 Senate
48.8% Tillis
47.3% Hagan

2012 President
50.4% Romney
48.4% Obama

2012 Governor

54.6% McCrory
43.2% Dalton

2010 Senate
54.8% Burr
43.1% Marshall


  1. Dharma Dogood

    I voted for 8th district native Marcus Williams proudly because he’s a sincerely great candidate and he aligned with my very progressive values well. The man is thoughtful, well-reasoned and has dedicated his life to justice.

    I thought Josh Stein was a great choice too, however, and I have no problem whatsoever voting for him in the general. I’m happy to support him and his campaign any way I can this fall. There’s no question he makes old Buck what’s his face look like a hotheaded idiot (though I suppose it doesn’t hurt that old Buck what’s his face IS a nutter).

    Democrats fielded two very highly qualified candidates who both ran great campaigns in this primary, so it was a close race. Marcus Williams, though drastically underfunded, worked his tail off to get those votes, period. The man was so committed to campaigning he was willing to brave the roads in the middle of the blizzard we had in January to meet with people at an event I was coordinating (which was ultimately postponed). That right there should tell you how hard he worked. Marcus Williams earned his votes just as much as Josh Stein did.

    I’m going to assume you didn’t realize how incredibly bigoted it sounded to imply that Stein having a Jewish sounding surname makes him a weak candidate. I’m also assuming you must have no idea what kind of people actually make up the people who vote in Democratic Party primaries. To presume it was a close race because of voters not wanting to vote for a Jew assumes a very large chunk of us to have Stormfront accounts, or damn near it.

    I’m sorry but I think you have Democratic Party primary voters mixed up with the ardent neonazi fanatics supporting Donald Trump.

  2. Marcus W. Williams, Esq.

    Perhaps the Stein/Williams Primary was close because this experienced Attorney worked assiduously to win. Sometimes effort and merit counts in politics…

  3. larry

    Wow dude…had no idea you had anti semitic leanings. Proud to be living in NC…home of anti semites, racist, homophobes. How bloody Christian.

  4. Jay Ligon

    Josh Stein has one huge advantage over Buck Newton in the race for Attorney General. Josh Stein understands the law while Buck Newton wants to use the law to “keep North Carolina straight.” Newton has waded very deep into a murky moral swamp whereby the government would choose the righteous path for each of its citizens.

    On his gravestone, Thomas Jefferson did not mention that he had been the third president of the United States, but his gravestone notes for posterity that Jefferson was:

    ” Author of the Declaration of American Independence
    of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom
    and Father of the University of Virginia”

    The statute for Religious Freedom for Virginia was adopted by the framers as part of the First Amendment.

    The people of North Carolina will enjoy religious freedom as long as opportunists like Buck Newton are prevented from using the pretext of morality to achieve political power. Even if Buck Newton were the most moral man in North Carolina, he should know better than to make his religious views public policy. That he tries to do so reveals his ignorance of basic constitutional law and disqualifies him for the position he seeks.

    • Norma Munn

      Well said!

  5. Walter Rand

    I grew up in Wilson. I know that not all conservatives in Wilson support Buck Newton because several have told me so. Buck referenced ” how hard we must fight to keep our state straight.” That anti-gay sentiment plays well with a large part of the conservative crowd, but it turns off another large part of that conservative crowd. I think that so long as Buck Newton panders to bigots Josh Stein will win the election, even in the face of anti-Semitism. Contrary to many liberal opinions, not all conservatives are bigots. Some conservatives will either abstain from voting for Lt. Gov. or will actually vote for Stein.

    • Don Teeter

      “either abstain from voting for Lt. Gov. or will actually vote for Stein.” Walter, if you really have an opinion, maybe you would be more effective if you did not incompetently recycle an old post from a past election.

      Long ago, I began taking an oath to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. That oath was not anti-gay then, and it is not now. So, Walter, I will say to you what my father used to say to me: Straighten up Son!

    • Arnold Hamm

      Like you, I grew up in Wilson. I know many Wilson conservatives who wouldn’t vote for Newton for dog catcher. Most of the Wilson legal community has little respect for Newton’s prowlness as an attorney. Newton’s meme about keeping NC straight only appeals to ignorant bigots. Newton’s original fracking bill contained injecting fracking wastewater into freshwater aquifers Downeast, and he was allowed to introduce the revenue destroying HB2 in the NC Senate. Then there is the believable rumor that Newton fired his undocumented nanny just before he decided to run for the NC Senate, if true, he’s a hypocrite of the first magnitude. Voters should vote for NC, not the party, and send Newton back to his law practice. Given enough time, he just might learn enough about the law to make a living.

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