A new poll shows Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson besting Attorney General Josh Stein by six points in a head-to-head matchup for governor in 2024. Save for some establishment Republicans and the political left; it’s no big surprise. Robinson just picks up steam despite any highly controversial statements or past actions.  

Case in point, the left and some of the Triangle-area media finally thought they had finished Robinson off when an old Facebook comment surfaced of Robinson admitting to paying for an abortion. The incident in question occurred over 30 years ago when his now-wife became pregnant before they were married.  

Local and national media seized on the story to supposedly highlight Robinson’s hypocrisy to his Christian supporters — perhaps even relishing the thought that Christians and conservatives would abandon him outright. At the very least, the story was supposed to crater any chance Robinson had at ascending to governor. Yet, his popularity only seemed to surge with conservatives across North Carolina.  

Of course, most Christians don’t live in a legalistic bunker waiting to ambush people over their past sins. This is still surprising to some that don’t understand Christianity, repentance, or grace.  

Furthermore, many of the most effective pro-life leaders and advocates are those who themselves experienced an abortion. After the story, Robinson’s follow-up video sharing his experience only seemed to ingratiate himself to conservatives and the pro-life community even more.  

“How can leaders proclaim repentance to this chaotic world? This is how,” U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop tweeted in March. “A public confession many years before emerging into public life. Unblinking acknowledgment now. How refreshing.” 

Furthermore, many pundits and media members had already declared Robinson done after making controversial comments about homosexuality and transgenderism. And boy, were they controversial, particularly given today’s rules about discussing human sexuality in the public square.  

“There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth,” Robinson told an audience at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove. “And yes, I called it filth. And if you don’t like it that I called it filth, come see me and I’ll explain it to you.”  

Can the reader imagine any other American politician saying that without getting politically obliterated or canceled for good? Does anybody else know of any current politicians who talk about the wrath of God when it comes to personal behaviors? Yet, almost paradoxically, Robinson’s the most popular Republican in the state.  

Recently, WRAL tried to create a controversy over Robinson saying that Christians are “called to be led by men” in a message at Freedom House Church in Charlotte. Yet, many Christian traditions believe this as pastoral ordinations and certain offices in the church are only open to males, including the Roman Catholic Church that President Joe Biden and U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are members of and regularly attend.

In the past, Robinson said he was about 95% sure he is running for governor. Those are pretty good odds, and it’s unlikely he’ll lose a primary if he remains as popular as he is now. Democrats may indeed relish his run, thinking they are on their way to an easy victory in the governor’s race. In their eyes, Robinson has already disqualified himself and his mouth remains a ticking time bomb.  

Today’s political rules don’t allow for someone to make the comments Robinson makes and be a viable candidate going forward. The wailing and gnashing of teeth promise to be relentless. Outside money will pour in along with apocalyptic predictions of impending doom if Robinson wins.  

Imagine the corporations that will threaten to pull out of North Carolina if Robinson wins. It could prove to be one of the most historic political races in state history, and it will be fascinating to watch. At times, it might even be fun.  

Ray Nothstine is Carolina Journal opinion editor and Second Amendment research fellow at the John Locke Foundation.

This is a revised and updated version of an opinion piece that first appeared in the June – July Carolina Journal print edition.