Dale Folwell is Embarrasing Himself

by | Sep 4, 2023 | Politics | 2 comments

In a party crackling with populist showmanship, Dale Folwell has forged an image as a grim-faced policy wonk. While others stir controversy, he does the people’s business. His self-conscious seriousness has won him an eclectic clique of admirers in Raleigh circles, but this respectability now appears dispensable to a man who, after six years as Treasurer, wants to become the Republican Governor of North Carolina.

Folwell has always been more driven by ideology than casual observers believe. Even before his election as Treasurer, Dale presided over savage benefit cuts at the Office of Employment Security. He seemed fully supportive of this inhumane assault on the safety net. As Treasurer, furthermore, Folwell has dived into one ideological fracas after another even when the debates in question lay far afield from the core work of managing the public’s finances. The most damaging of these provocations was his move to prohibit state employees from receiving coverage for gender-affirming care, against which he continues to campaign.

Nevertheless, Folwell does seem more engaged by the details of public policy than the typical North Carolina Republican. Certainly compared to a clown like Mark Robinson, Dale Folwell understands the intricacies of state government and values deep immersion in policy detail. All of that seriousness, however, has been subsumed in recent months by a desperate drive, against all odds and all reason, for the governorship of North Carolina. Folwell is embarrassing himself.

The self-styled fiscal hawk in Folwell has given way to a clumsy caricature of Robinson-style cultural belligerence. In a vignette about public education, Folwell, who according to his reputation might have been expected to actually know something about public schools, ranted against “indoctrination.” This loony canard emanated from the loquacious tongue of Mark Robinson himself. When Folwell raised the topic of his work on public finance, he emphasized not fiscal discipline or some other stolid conservative shibboleth, but his own rage against the menace of “Environment, Social, and Governance Investing.” These are the core issues of public policy in North Carolina, and our supposed wonk-king has little to say about them other than to heap steaming piles of red meat on the insatiable right-wing base.

So far, so shameful. But the most distressing aspect of Folwell’s new identity is his willingness to participate in the politics of cruelty. Folwell has joined in the campaign of terror against trans people. Giving an interview to a right-wing media macher, Folwell expressed smoldering rage that liberal lawyers had prevented him from cutting off access to gender-affirming care for trans people who work for North Carolina. He even put a dollar figure on it: $356,000 has been spent on gender-affirming care since Folwell dropped the hammer on transgender healthcare. He’s certainly done his homework.

Folwell’s self-reinvention shows that there is not appetite whatsoever for a serious center-right politics. To have any chance of winning a Republican primary, even the most staid conservative must pantomime populist masters such as Mark Robinson and Donald J. Trump. Cultural demagoguery is mandatory; partisan ferocity is required. Dale Folwell, who has attracted a fervent little club of liberal admirers who ought to know better, is now fully a Trump Republican. He’s not only deplorable. He’s embarrassing.


  1. TC

    If nothing is going to change between Aetna and BCBSNC, why change?

  2. alamanceregulator

    As anyone on the state health plan can attest, Folwell also has a bad case of “Mike Easley Disease”, festooning almost every piece of mail about the plan with large full-color pictures of himself.

    Who exactly is in the “fervent little club of liberal admirers”?

Related Posts


Get the latest posts from PoliticsNC delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!