Former NC Supreme Court justice and current candidate for governor, Mike Morgan, took a seemingly uncharacteristic swipe at his primary opponent, Democrat Josh Stein, on Tuesday. His statement pointed to Stein’s rally in southeast Raleigh, a historically black neighborhood where Morgan has lived for nearly 40 years.
Stein, North Carolina’s current attorney general, officially kicked off his campaign for governor at Shaw University in southeast Raleigh on Tuesday afternoon. According to posts on NSJ reporter A.P. Dillon’s X account, The crowd was about 100 people, including media, along with state Sen. Natasha Murdock, D-Durham; and Gov. Roy Cooper.
The event kicked off what Stein’s campaign says will be a statewide NC Strong tour with stops in Pittsboro, Greensboro, Hickory, Charlotte, Asheville, Leland, Fayetteville, Lumberton, Rocky Mount, Elizabeth City, Greenville, and Wilson.
Known for his measured, judicial tone, Morgan called the event a “pop-up mirage,” questioning Stein’s authenticity over his own roots in the community.
Stein was born in Washington, DC, and his family moved to North Carolina, where his father was a prominent attorney. Stein attended Dartmouth College and Harvard University with a career in law and politics. Morgan was born in eastern North Carolina and attended Duke University and NC Central University, before being elected to the NC Supreme Court in 2016. Stein was the presumed leading candidate for the state gubernatorial Democrat primary declaring his intention back in January. He’s spent much of the year in and out of the state raising millions for his campaign.
Rumors of party concerns about Stein’s vulnerabilities have been circulating since Morgan announced his resignation from the bench over the summer. Cooper did not endorse Stein until August. Morgan formally announced his primary candidacy in September.
“My opponent will use his wealthy war chest to buy time and show images over and over again from his staged extravaganza to try and show he is the people’s choice for governor, when in fact I continue to be the real candidate for governor who continues to demonstrate every day a commitment to all North Carolinians,” Morgan’s statement read.
The Republican primary already had a contentious race among candidates, dominated by current Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who has a favorability rating of 26.5% in the latest Civitas poll. In the same poll, Stein had respective favorability ratings of 19.9%. A narrow majority of voters recognized Robinson and Stein’s names.