Ronald Newton knows he’s an ‘insurgent’ in NC lieutenant governor’s race

Ronald L. Newton
Ronald L. Newton

Ronald Newton points to his varied background as part of what he brings to the race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor:

Vice and narcotics officer for the Durham police department in the 1970s; business manager for the state chapter of a national public workers union; running his own tax practice since 1994.

Still, running for statewide office is a big leap for Newton, and he knows it.

“I’m conscious and aware of the fact I’m not a party favorite,” he said. “I’m sort of seen as an insurgent.”

Against GOP policies

Newton, 63, says the issues in his platform include addressing poverty and countering the Republican-led state legislature’s failure to expand Medicaid and some of its other deeds, such as reducing environmental protections, shifting the tax burden to the less fortunate, voter disenfranchisement, and cutting education funds.

He says he has visited more than 40 counties and, despite lagging in fund raising, considers himself a serious candidate.

What’s in a name?

Newton has called himself a tax lawyer, but he is not one in the eyes of the N.C. State Bar.

He has been saying that a lawyer is anyone who graduates from law school, but the State Bar says that is incorrect: The terms “lawyer” or “attorney” refer to someone who has passed the bar exam and has been licensed by the state to practice law.

The State Bar began looking into the matter this month to determine whether his representations in public records constitute an unauthorized practice of law. Newton says he will take steps to clarify if necessary.

Newton says the dispute is a small matter that distracts from the more important issues of his campaign.

Ronald L. Newton

Hometown: Durham

Education: Studied at Hofstra University and N.C. Central University; holds bachelor of arts degrees in political science and criminal justice and a bachelor of laws degree

Family: Married to Deborah Scarborough-Newton; three children

Professional resume: Managing director of a financial services firm in Durham; formerly a business office manager for a funeral home, regional manager for Motels of America, business manager for AFSCME NC, litigation investigator for a legal aid society and Durham police officer

Politics: President of a school board in New York state; candidate for Durham City Council in 1987; worked on other campaigns in Durham

Worth knowing: Newton attended the New York Jets football camp during the National Football League strike before the 1974 season

What does a lieutenant governor do?

The duties of a 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.