By Penny Smith

Our current Lt. Governor, Dan Forest, a Republican, is already gearing up to run for Governor. Yes, we are one of several states where you can have a member of both parties serving in the top two Executive Branch positions – and we do.  They will likely square off against each other in another three years, which should make these next three years somewhat interesting. On October 3, 2017, Mark Meadows endorsed Forest for Governor, part of an effort by current conservative office-holders to clear the primary field for their candidate.

Who’s Dan Forest? He’s the architect son of Sue Myrick, the former mayor of Charlotte and for multiple terms the congresswoman from the 9th congressional district. Father of four, Forest benefitted from Myrick’s connections, reputation among Charlotte business leaders, and GOP money when he first ran for office in 2012. Besting a crowded Republican primary field, Forest then prevailed in a very close contest against the Democratic candidate, Linda Coleman for Lt. Governor. In 2016, although Republican Pat McCrory lost his re-election bid to Democrat Roy Cooper for the Governor’s office, Forest ran much better against Coleman than he had in 2012 and retained his Lt. Governor’s seat.

There are already web sites supporting him, the soft money is flowing, those support PACs are ramping up, and a fledgling ground game is out there to make him our next Governor. Remember, the election is three years away!  Check out, for example, for a summary of early money success. That site touts his future run as a chance to “finally bring some conservative leadership to the mansion on Blount Street.” Apparently, McCrory didn’t quite meet the conservative expectations of North Carolinians sufficiently. That’s where the bad news really begins.

Who’s Dan Forest? He’s a traditionalist who home schools his children. He supports Crisis Pregnancy Clinics, which have a history of counseling scared pregnant women with false information (abortions cause breast cancer, condoms do not prevent STDs). He has expressed opposition to the minimum wage and supports abolishing all corporate income taxes. Forest would eliminate the Affordable Care Act (that means no extension of Medicaid in the state), expand school vouchers and school choice options, reduce regulations on businesses, and increase energy exploration. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman. He was one of the major supporters of House Bill 2. A Tea Party favorite, he has declared that he wants to make North Carolina home for Sean Hannity, urging him to relocate from liberal New York to friendly North Carolina. Supposedly, there is even video evidence of Forest attacking Social Security and the Food and Drug Administration.

The National Rifle Association (guns for everyone), the Family Research Council (some families are not families), the Susan B. Anthony List (pro-choice conservative response to Emily’s List), and the National Federation of Independent Business, a small business group linked to ALEC and the Koch Brothers, have all endorsed Forest.

Why am I talking about a potential candidate for Governor now? Because

  • most of his policies are bad;
  • he’s funded by some of the same players behind the GOP state take-over in 2010;
  • he’s endorsed by anti-government bullies;
  • he would take our state backwards, appealing to the “Make America Great Again” crowd, but possibly on steroids and without an adult in the room;

North Carolina Policy Watch characterizes him as “the most conservative statewide elected official,” and that’s saying a lot.

I wondered why I was getting all these messages from Roy Cooper, given that he was just elected a couple of months ago. The reason is that the 2020 campaign is already on and his likely opponent will make Trump look mildly moderate. There are already players on the field, money in the bank and puppet-masters pulling strings. Democrats will have to up their game, both tactically (win in 2018) and strategically (don’t forget that 2020 is coming).