Jan 18, 2023 - Politics

North Carolina AG Josh Stein announces his 2024 bid for governor

Josh Stein, speaking at an event

Photo: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein confirmed the worst-kept secret in state politics Wednesday: He's running for governor in 2024.

Driving the news: Stein, a Democrat, jump-starts a battle over who will succeed outgoing Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

Why it matters: Cooper has served as the party's last line of defense against the Republican-controlled state legislature since his election in 2016.

  • Stein's bid will likely determine whether Democrats will have much say in the direction North Carolina goes in the coming years.

What he's saying: "I believe in a different North Carolina — and that the fights we choose determine what kind of state we’ll become," Stein said in his announcement video. "We’ll build a better and brighter North Carolina by standing together for what’s right, fighting to fix what’s wrong, and doing right by every single North Carolinian."

Between the lines: Stein wasted no time in taking shots at Republicans and their presumptive nominee, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who has yet to announce his run.

  • In his announcement, Stein painted the race as a battle to protect democracy from politicians who spark "division, ignite hate and fan the flames of bigotry."

The intrigue: Stein's announcement comes a little early considering the 2024 election is still nearly two years away — 657 days, to be exact, as the Assembly pointed out — but it came as no surprise to many political observers.

  • His career has been building up to this moment: Stein has followed the same trajectory as Cooper and former Gov. Mike Easley, both of whom served as attorney general before being elected governor of North Carolina.

Zoom in: Stein enters the race as an attorney general with a track record of helping win a $26 billion opioid settlement, the second largest state attorney general settlement in history, after the tobacco settlement of 1998.

  • He's also tackled price gouging, robocalls, the state's backlog of sexual assault kits and now, TikTok.

What's next: It's not clear when Robinson will announce his run for governor, as he's expected to, but Stein's announcement ramps up the pressure.

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