A former chair of the Wake County GOP, Darren Eustance, announced his candidacy for North Carolina Secretary of State on the Republican ticket.

Eustance owns Malleus Political Strategies and is a political and corporate research analyst and consultant. He was chair of the Wake County Republican Party from March 2019 to March 2020.

“We need a Secretary of State who will stand up for small business owners,” Eustance said in a press release. “The day you start a small business is the day you wake up and start chasing your own dream instead of someone else’s. I want to provide more resources for entrepreneurs to start their businesses and be successful.”

He said it was time to bring new ideas and bold leadership to the office that incumbent Elaine Marshall was first elected to in 1996.

Eustance took aim at “Woke Corporatism” and said no North Carolinian should be at risk of losing their job because they refuse to go along with woke orthodoxy or be coerced into DEI training that violates their beliefs or their conscience.

He also wants the Secretary of State’s office to focus more on China and its increasing influence in North Carolina. Eustance mentioned the recently passed H.B 463, N.C. Farmland and Military Protection Act, which will prohibit China and other foreign adversaries from purchasing agricultural land within a 25-mile radius of a military base, military installation, or military airport.

“As Secretary of State, I’ll make sure that China and other foreign adversaries are not circumventing this law by purchasing land through shell corporations or local actors,” Eustance said. “I’ll issue an annual report on land and corporate holdings by China and other adversarial nations. We need to get serious about protecting our state and country from hostile foreign powers.”

Eustance joins Gaston County Commissioner Chad Brown as a candidate on the Republican ticket. Brown ran in the 2020 primary for the position but lost to E.C. Sykes.

Marshall, 77, has not announced if she will seek an eighth term.