Gun-rights activist challenges incumbent for NC agriculture commissioner

The incumbent

Republican Steve Troxler is running for his fourth term.

The challenger

Andy Stevens, a gun-rights activist from Greensboro, is challenging Troxler for the GOP nomination.

About the office

The commissioner promotes state agriculture and oversees a variety of regulations ranging from weights and measures to animal welfare.

Why this race matters

Agribusiness is a $78 billion industry in the state. The office also runs the State Fair.

Where the candidates stand

Troxler says he wants to keep building on the department’s successes and guide projects he has initiated. For example, he said, the state bond proposal on the March 15 ballot includes $94 million for a new laboratory that would bring all the department’s five labs to one place.

Stevens could not be reached. His website says he is running because Troxler banned concealed guns at the State Fair. Stevens is a member of the gun-rights group Grass Roots NC, which fought in 2014 to allow guns at the fair.

Troxler, who said he owns about 20 guns and is a Second Amendment supporter, said he made the right decision to ban concealed weapons. The move was made in conjunction with law enforcement and ride operators, he said, and is intended to eliminate the chance of an accidental discharge from a gun falling from a fair ride, he said.

Steve Troxler

Age: 63

Education: Bachelor’s degree in conservation, N.C. State University

Professional experience: Three-term NC Agriculture Commissioner; owner of a farm in Browns Summit

Political resume: Elected agriculture commissioner in 2004

Family: Wife Sharon; two adult sons and five grandchildren

Website: stevetroxler.com

Andy Stevens

Website: electandystevens.com