State Sen. Buck Newton says his years in the General Assembly give him key insights on the legal issues the attorney general faces.
Newton is a top lieutenant to Senate leader Phil Berger, and he chairs the Judiciary I Committee and leads budget writing for justice and public safety.
“We need a good attorney general who’s going to stand up and fight for the laws of this state,” Newton said. “I’ve been dealing with all of the issues that face our state on a legal front.”
He says he’ll allow legislators to spend less on outside attorneys to defend controversial laws.
Newton – one of two Republicans running in the March 15 primary – is critical of current attorney general Roy Cooper, a Democrat. He says Cooper failed the state by failing to join lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act and President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration. Cooper’s office has said he’s defended more than a dozen Republican-sponsored laws challenged in court.
“If what the legislature passes is constitutional, that is an expression of the will of the people of North Carolina, and the attorney general should be trying to his utmost ability to defend those actions,” Newton said.
He says his opponents don’t have the same understanding of the state’s legal issues. “I’m the only one qualified to run on the Republican side,” he said. “I believe I’m the only one who’s in this race who understands these issues and is prepared to deal with them.”
If elected, Newton said he wants the attorney general’s office to address Medicaid fraud and human trafficking. And he said he’s concerned about the backlog at the state crime lab.
“The situation with the crime lab is inexcusable and must be solved immediately,” he said.
In the Senate, Newton said his biggest accomplishment was an agreement that reduced electricity rates in towns that serve as their own electric utility and had high costs. “When you can save people $20 or $30 on their monthly electricity bill, it makes a real difference in people’s lives,” he said.
He also said he’s “pushed very hard” on increasing funding for the state’s court system and law enforcement.
Because Newton is not well known outside the legislature and his home district, he’s been traveling across the state since his campaign launched last June.
“I think there’s a greater recognition now of what the role of attorney general is than any other point I’ve been involved in politics,” he said. “People have been very responsive to our message.”
E.S. “Buck” Newton
Education: Law degree from Campbell University, bachelor’s degree in political science from Appalachian State University
Family: Married to Hope Newton with three children
Job: Attorney in private practice
Politics: State senator representing Wilson, Johnston and Nash counties since 2010; chairs Senate judiciary committees
Worth knowing: Newton was an aide to U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms early in his career.