Yes, Josh Stein can beat Mark Robinson

by | Jun 23, 2023 | Editor's Blog | 12 comments

Over the past few months, I’ve heard concerns about Josh Stein’s ability to defeat Mark Robinson. Much of the angst has come from African American political observers and summed up in a recent column by Cash Michaels. He asks, “Can Josh Stein really beat Mark Robinson?”

Michaels’ argument suggests that high turnout by rural conservative voters, both Black and White, will give Robinson the boost he needs to defeat Stein. He’s right on two points. First, rural African American voters, especially men, are leaving the Democratic Party, their traditional home, for the GOP over cultural issues like abortion and LGBT rights. He’s also correct that, if Trump is the GOP nominee, rural turnout will be sky high. GOP turnout was 81% in 2020, led by rural counties. 

However, Robinson will lose women by huge margins. He will lose the moderate swing voters by large margins. While Michaels is correct that Stein needs a strong African American turnout, that surge needs to be in more urban areas among younger Black voters and among women voters. 

I believe the 2024 election is going to be driven by women. The Dobbs decision awakened them. While they didn’t show up in North Carolina in 2022 like they did in other parts of the country, they will respond to restrictions the GOP just enacted on their right to choose. And they will flat out reject a candidate who has said over and over that he wants to end all access to abortion services. Women, especially younger ones, will abandon the GOP, giving Democrats unprecedented margins.

A recent national poll says that almost 80% of women under 50 disagree with the Dobbs decision. In addition, almost 80% of African Americans disagree with it. I suspect the number of African American women who disagree is even higher. And I believe the decision has politicized them.

North Carolina has a long history of rejecting extremists and Mark Robinson is an extremist. He’s made that clear on video, tape, and in print. He’s called gay people “filth.” He’s said that women should not be leaders. He’s called for an outright ban on abortion. And he’s done it over and over. His handlers can keep in a box all they want, but they can’t keep Robinson’s own words from telling the truth on him. 

While I would like to see Democrats field a more diverse Council of State slate than is shaping up, the presidential race is going to be the great driver of turnout in 2024. It always is. Trump’s people are coming. Democrats need to put resources into ensuring they get a strong turnout, too. 

Finally, Josh Stein is a strong candidate. He’s battle tested. He’s won two races with Trump topping the ticket. That’s nothing to sneeze at. There aren’t a lot of candidates in the country that can make that claim. He will put together the organization and raise the money. The Democratic Governors Association has  already said North Carolina will be their top priority next year. The resources will be there. 

If history is any measure, North Carolina voters will reject extremism at the ballot box. They won’t elect a candidate as divisive as Mark Robinson. His rhetoric will come back to bite him. His embrace of Donald Trump will turn out to be a liability. Stein and his allies will run a strong campaign that defines Robinson in the minds of voters. And I don’t believe Robinson really has the discipline to keep his mouth shut for almost a year and a half. 


  1. cocodog

    I heard an interesting comment from Elizabeth Cheney. She posed the question when will Republicans stop trying to run idiots. Her dad was never one of my favorite politicians, even when I was a Republican, but his daughter appears to have a lot more common sense than her old man. She went on to say Republicans will continue to lose elections unless they can come up with serious candidates. Robinson is not a serious candidate. He swims upstream on women’s health issues and mouths that prehistoric position taken by The Southern Baptist Church that women should not hold leadership positions in the church. The reason given in support is some obscure biblical passage that implies women should not hold offices of leadership or lead in the home. Of course, this notion is idiotic in view of the fact women have been military leaders and held numerous offices of leadership in major corporations and governmental agencies for years. In fact, the vice president is a woman. So, it is not a notion based on proven ability, but a questionable interpretation. His opponent, a proven administrator with common sense and years of experience is far more qualified to be governor. Robinson’s claim to experience is he has been a bench warmer. Lt. Governor who has little or no experience in the job. Of course, sex, color of skin, or religious views should not determine how you cast your vote. Competency is the real issue.

  2. Walter Rand

    Thomas, Robinson’s extremist idiocy was well-known before he won the state-wide election to Lt Governor. NC might be willing to elect him, though I hope not. At least gerrymandered districts won’t control the governor’s race.

  3. History you say?

    If history is any measure North Carolina will elect a guy who shoot people in the street and is the meanest Republican you have ever seen.

  4. Jim Neal

    “If history is any measure, North Carolina voters will reject extremism at the ballot box.”

    Jesse Helms. Five-term US Senator.

    • Thomas Mills

      Jim, you’re showing our age. The last time Helms was on the ballot was 27 years ago. I suspect a solid majority of voters in North Carolina who are under 40 couldn’t identify him if you asked. But since Helms’ last race, we elected Mike Easley, Bev Perdue, Pat McCrory, and Roy Cooper. We thought McCrory was the moderate, business-friendly former mayor of Charlotte, but when we watched him sign HB-2, we sent him packing.

  5. Ted Fillette

    This article assumes that Robinson will be the GOP nominee for governor. I think that some Republicans are seeing Robinson as their counterpart to Herschel Walker and are turning towards the current Treasurer who is also running for the nomination. Perhaps the questions are whether he can beat Stein in the general election and how much will the Trump candidacy help him.

    • MPC

      Republican Party is controlled by MAGA now. I’d be surprised if GOP primary voters did not choose Robinson for his Trump endorsement.

  6. Andy

    Why is it no prominent Democrat in the state is interested in the highest office offered and must instead defer to the “white boy” who apparently has been appointed by the party to fill the role? This is the message of the “new” NC Democrat Party? Good luck.

    • Ellen W. Gerber

      The path from NC Attorney General to NC Governor has been taken by many, many people. Why do you not think he doesn’t fit the picture? BTW, Josh Stein is an excellent AG and quite a fine man.

    • Walter Rand

      Andy, did you mean the NC Democratic Party? Or did you intend the common mis-naming insult?

  7. Gray Lundy

    Hoping that the new, younger and more energized NCDP can get all the younger women (and like minded men) out there and organized. Especially the college campuses!

  8. Jeffrey L Cashion

    Totally agree!

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