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Mark Walker launches gubernatorial bid in North Carolina


In an interview last month, Walker acknowledged to POLITICO that Robinson would be the “front-runner” in the race. But he argued that Robinson’s list of controversies could cost Republicans not just the governor’s mansion but other statewide elections as well.

Robinson won’t “just cost you a governor’s seat. It affects the presidential election, and it affects statewide races up and down the ballot,” Walker said.

But Robinson remains popular with the Republican base. Activists and powerful state Republicans have already begun rallying behind him. Late. Ted Budd (RN.C.), who defeated Walker in a Senate primary last year, has already endorsed Robinson. State Treasurer Dale Folwell is also in the running.

North Carolina has faced a major flashpoint over abortion in recent days. The Republican-led legislature earlier this week overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to ban the procedure in the state after the first trimester.

Robinson takes a hard line against abortion, saying in a radio interview earlier this year that “if I had all the power right now, let’s say I was governor and had a willing legislature, we could pass a bill that says that you cannot have an abortion in North Carolina for any reason.”

Walker also emphasized that he is “100 percent pro-life” in an interview last month, but that he believed there should be a focus on providing “the necessary resources not just before the birth of the child, but also after the birth of the child ” and not just on the procedure.

Walker chose not to run for re-election to his House seat in 2020 after his Republican-leaning district was wiped out in a 2019 redistricting process, making it significantly more Democratic-leaning. But he has flirted with a nationwide race before. He considered running against incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis in 2020, finishing a distant third in last year’s Senate primary for an open seat.

The North Carolina gubernatorial race is likely to be the biggest statewide chief executive contest next year, with Cooper, the Democratic governor, term-limited. Most Democrats in the state have thrown their support behind Attorney General Josh Stein to succeed Cooper.

Democrats have dominated the governorship and remain competitive in other statewide offices in recent decades, but the state has been something of a white whale for Democrats at the federal level. They last won the state’s presidential vote when then-candidate Barack Obama won a squeaker in the presidential election and Democrat Kay Hagan beat incumbent Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole. But since then, no Democrat has won a statewide federal race in North Carolina.

Democrats have already shown early signs that they will target the state at the presidential level. A recent TV ad campaign by the Democratic National Committee and President Joe Biden’s campaign bought airtime in the state, and a recent memo from Biden’s campaign manager, obtained by POLITICO Playbook, said Biden’s team wanted to “expand the map even more in states like North Carolina.”

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