We recently offered our recommendations in Council of State races for attorney general, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, as well as the commissioners of labor, insurance and agriculture.
Today, we present our choices in the remaining three Council of State races: lieutenant governor, auditor and secretary of state.
The race for the state’s second-highest office features a rematch between incumbent Republican Dan Forest and Linda Coleman, the Democrat he narrowly beat to take the office in 2012. As election day approached that year, we labeled the match-up a “stark yet uninspiring choice.” We feel much the same this year.
Forest came into office as a Tea Party favorite with no experience in government, touting far-right social positions and extreme policies, such as cutting the state budget in half and abolishing the minimum wage.
He supported the GOP’s controversial 2013 voter ID law and signed the paperwork calling for the special legislative session that produced House Bill 2. A Statesville media outlet quoted him as saying “transgenderism is a feeling … it could be a feeling just for the day.” That’s the kind of archaic thinking North Carolina desperately needs to run away from, given how much the legislature’s wrong-headed support of HB2 has cost the state.
Coleman would be a welcome departure from the reactionary social conservatism Forest has brought to the office. She offers a wealth of experience, having won three terms in the N.C. House and serving as chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. She also worked with state agencies as the former Director of the Office of State Personnel.
We do wish she offered more thoughtful, creative solutions for key policy questions such as what it will take to fix low-income schools. (Her answer seems to center on pumping in more money). That shortcoming pales when compared to Forest’s many flaws, however.
Coleman is the better choice.
Incumbent Democrat Beth Wood, in office since 2009, faces a challenge from Republican Chuck Stuber, a former FBI agent and former chief investigator for the State Board of Elections.
Stuber, an attorney and a CPA, is well-qualified. His work with the FBI includes roles in corruption investigations of prominent N.C. politicians such as former Gov. Mike Easley, former House Speaker Jim Black and former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance Jr.
He promises to ramp up fraud and waste investigations, and there’s little reason to doubt that he would be a diligent watchdog on state government. However, that description also fits Wood’s performance in office. Her probe into the state Medicaid system, for instance, showed that the program may have paid hundreds of millions too much for patient care while underpaying food stamp recipients.
Stuber makes a strong case for himself, but we feel Wood has earned another term.
Secretary of State
The secretary of state oversees corporations, notaries, securities, lobbying and charitable solicitation. Democrat Elaine Marshall has held office since 1997, when she became the first woman elected statewide in North Carolina. She has done a respectable job fighting financial fraud and charity scams, as well as cutting red tape for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Her two decades of success in the office make her a far better choice than newcomer Michael LaPaglia, a Republican consulting firm owner. LaPaglia has never held elected office, but once worked on former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson’s campaign.
LaPaglia’s passion for helping small businesses is admirable, but he is not as well-equipped as Marshall to handle the demands of the job.