Linda Coleman touts middle class, women’s health, teachers in second run for lieutenant governor

Linda Coleman
Linda Coleman Linda Coleman

Four years ago, Linda Coleman came close to becoming North Carolina’s lieutenant governor — losing to Dan Forest by fewer than 7,000 out of 4.4 million votes cast.

So it’s no surprise that she is running again. She announced her intention almost a year ago.

Coleman is well known in the state capital, serving four years as a Wake County commissioner, then three terms in the state House. Bev Perdue, as governor, appointed her director of the Office of State Personnel in 2009.

Coleman, 66, also has been human resources management director at the state departments of agriculture and administration. She was actively supported by the PAC of the State Employees Association of North Carolina in 2012, which has again endorsed her in this election.

A hurdle in her path

Coleman’s route to become the Democratic nominee to unseat her former opponent met with Holly Jones’ unexpected entry into the race.

Jones, a Buncombe County commissioner, has amassed significant Democratic support, raising $191,000 in the most recent reporting period with $114,000 on hand at the start of the year. Coleman raised $107,000 and had $76,000 on hand.

For Democrats, the question is whether they give Coleman credit for being a candidate who came within striking distance last time, or whether voters think there is a stronger candidate.

Her platform

Coleman is campaigning on a Democratic Party theme of undoing what the Republicans have done over the past five years in North Carolina, saying they have torn down all that made the state great. She would fight for the middle class, for women’s access to “life-saving preventative care services” and for sufficient resources for teachers, she says.

“Like so many North Carolinians, I have been dismayed as we’ve watched the tone-deaf Republican majority’s failed policies leave the middle class slipping further and further behind,” her campaign website says. “I want to help build a North Carolina that gives opportunity to all its citizens, not just the privileged few..”

Linda Coleman

Hometown: Knightdale

Education: N.C. A&T State University, bachelor’s degree in English, 1971; University of Pittsburgh, master’s degree in public administration, 1976

Family: Widow; two adult children

Professional resume: Retired; former director of the Office of State Personnel from 2009 to 2012

Politics: Wake County Board of Commissioners, 1998-2002; three terms in the state House of Representatives, 2005-2009

Worth knowing: If successful in November, she would be only the second African-American to serve on the Council of State, which comprises the 10 officials elected to statewide office

What does a lieutenant governor do?

The duties of the lieutenant governor are not extensive: presiding over the state Senate when it’s in session; voting only to break ties; serving on the state Board of Education and the state Board of Community Colleges; standing in if the governor is indisposed. But the office can be a springboard for an aspiring politician.