The North Carolina Governor race has largely taken a back seat to the hotly contested Senate race and the Presidential election. Yet, as state governments bear the brunt of the response to COVID-19, the election for Governor is arguably more important than it has ever been in recent memory. Incumbent Democratic Governor and former Attorney General, Roy Cooper, is attempting to fend off a challenge from Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest.
Incumbent Roy Cooper has had a tenuous term as Governor. Since before he took office, Republicans have refused to work with him, stripping many powers away from the office of Governor before he was sworn in. Cooper has also been frequently overridden by the state legislature, with 23 of his 28 vetoes being overturned. Despite winning his election by a razor-thin margin in 2016, he is widely seen as the favorite to win re-election, polling routinely at over 10 points above his opponent.
His opponent is the Lieutenant Governor and vocal critic of Cooper, Dan Forest. As Lieutenant Governor, Forest was a vocal opposition to the repeal of H.B. 2, a bill that clamped down on anti-discrimination laws passed at the local level, and mandated that bathroom admittance be based on birth gender, not gender identity. As a candidate for Governor, he has taken to criticizing Cooper’s mask mandate and supporting the reopening of schools.
With just two weeks to go until the general election, the COVID crisis has placed much more importance on the race for Governor. As incumbent Roy Cooper tries to fend off his challenger in Dan Forest, the way that North Carolina responds and recovers will be determined at the ballot box. While the hard-fought Senate race and divisiveness of the Presidential election may dominate headlines, this gubernatorial election is of crucial importance to the people of North Carolina.