Voter’s Guide: Three NC races to watch in the 2020 election


October 15 marks the start of early voting in North Carolina, and voters will turn out to vote for everything from the President of the United States to North Carolina’s Commissioner of Agriculture.

But as an education-focused organization, there are three breeds we follow most closely: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Below, we break down the positions, the credentials they contain, some basic information about the candidates, and links to various media outlets where you can hear candidates’ views on a variety of issues for yourself.

To find your polling place, here is the official website of the State Board of Elections. To learn more about how to vote, see the article below.


On, the governor is described as the chief executive of North Carolina.

All of the following agencies report to him: “Administration, Commerce, Environmental Quality, Health and Human Services, Information Technology, Natural and Cultural Resources, Military and Veterans Affairs, Public Safety, Revenue, and Transportation.”

The website goes on to describe him as: “Serving as Commander-in-Chief of the State Militia; preside over the Council of State; convene special legislative sessions; enforce state laws; grant pardons, commute prison sentences and issue extradition warrants; adhere to interstate pacts; reorganize and consolidate state agencies under its direct control; exercise final authority over state expenditures and administer federal funds and loans; and delivering the annual state of the state address to a joint session of the legislature.

The governor also has the power of the pen. He can sign legislation passed by the General Assembly into law, or he can veto legislation.

This can be particularly important when it comes to the state budget, which largely sets state priorities when it comes to a number of issues, including education. Education receives the largest share of the state budget.

The governor usually proposes his own budget which the General Assembly considers as both chambers formulate their own spending plans. Then, after the legislature passes a budget, the governor can approve or veto it.

Below, we provide more specific information on the two gubernatorial candidates.

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Democrat Roy Cooper (incumbent)

Governor Roy Cooper addresses the audience at the 2019 DRIVE conference. Robert Kinlaw/EducationNC

Who is he?

Cooper is a Democrat who first won the gubernatorial election in 2016. Prior to that, he served as the state’s attorney general since 2001. For more biography, visit the website of Cooper here.

Basic information


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @RoyCooperNC

The money raised

Second quarter 2020: $5,959,563.98

So far this election: $19,300,365.64

Dan Republican Forest

Alex Granados/EducationNC

Who is he?

Forest, an architect, is a Republican who has served as Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina since 2013. Learn more about him in his biography on his website.

Basic information



Twitter: @DanForestNC

The money raised:

Second quarter 2020: $2,414,068.80

So far this election: $6,906,086.29

Where can you find out more?

Forest and Cooper took part in a debate that aired Oct. 14 on WRAL-TV.

You can watch it at the link below:

The pandemic dominates the debate between Cooper and Forest

Some of Forest and Cooper’s opinions have been exposed in various media, including:

WRAL Voter’s Guide

The News and the Observer

The Fayetteville Observer

Additionally, candidates spoke about education at the following forum:

Gubernatorial and State Superintendent Candidates Talk Education

lieutenant governor

On the Lieutenant Governor’s website, the various functions and powers of the office are explained.

Just like the vice president of the United States, the lieutenant governor is the governor’s direct successor if something happens to him.

Additionally, the Lieutenant Governor serves as the President of the State Senate. There, he directs the sessions of the Senate and can vote in the event of a tie.

He also serves on the State Governor’s Council, the State Board of Education, the State Board of Community Colleges, the State Economic Development Board, and the Military Affairs Committee.

The Lieutenant Governor chairs the Energy Policy Council and the E-Learning Commission.

Republican Mark Robinson

Courtesy of

Who is he?

Robinson is a Republican. From his website: “On April 3, 2018, Mark’s life changed when he took a stand against Greensboro City Council in a speech that has been viewed over 150,000,000 times. Since that speech, he has served on the NRA’s National Outreach Council, appeared on Fox and Friends, been interviewed by Lara Trump, and traveled the state and nation spreading the conservative message.

Read the rest of the biography on his website here.

Basic information



Twitter: @markrobinsonNC

Campaign finance:

Second quarter 2020: $290,148.21

So far this election: $333,132.81

Yvonne Holly

Courtesy of

Who is she?

Holley is a Democrat and a four-term member of the North Carolina House. Read his website biography here.

Basic information


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @yvonnelholley

Campaign finance:

Second quarter 2020: $270,407.03

So far this election: $359,452.77

Where can you find out more?

Spectrum News Debate Part One

Spectrum News Debate Part Two

Spectrum News Debate, Part Three

The contestants also took part in an episode of WRAL’s On the Record, which you can watch at the link below:

On Facebook, NC’s Republican nominee for lieutenant governor lashes out, insults

State Superintendent

The state constitution states that “The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall be the secretary and executive director of the state board of education.” states that the superintendent directs the state’s Department of Public Instruction and “operates under the political direction of the state Board of Education.” It says the state’s Department of Public Instruction implements “the state’s public school laws, policies, and procedures governing K-12 public education.”

And in state law, the law states that the state superintendent “shall administer all necessary rules and regulations made by the state Board of Education through the Department of Instruction public”.

Jen Mangrum

Who is she?

Mangrum is a Democrat. She is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina’s Greensboro School of Education and competed against Pro Tempore Senate Speaker Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, in the 2018 election. Mangrum is endorsed by the North Carolina Association of Educators .

Read his website biography here.

Basic information


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jenmangrumfornc

Campaign finance:

Second quarter 2020: $160,122.99

So far this election: $280,472.62

Catherine Truitt

Who is she?

Truitt is a Republican. She is chancellor of Western Governors University North Carolina and former education advisor to Republican Governor Pat McCrory. Read his website biography here.

Basic information



Twitter: @CTuittNC

Campaign finance:

Second quarter 2020: $39,630.00

So far this election: $51,611.38

Where can you find out more?

We are following this race closely. The candidates answered a series of questions for us over the summer, and we covered many of the debates between them. See below:

Candidates talk about state superintendent’s role during COVID-19

State superintendent candidates on the role of students

State superintendent candidates talk about lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic

Candidates for state superintendent talk about Leandro

How will state superintendent candidates work with the governor and the General Assembly?

State superintendent candidates talk about controlling the school calendar and reopening schools

Candidates for state superintendent participate in forum ahead of November election

Gubernatorial and State Superintendent Candidates Talk Education

Jen Mangrum on charter schools and school choice: “Fund us properly so we don’t have to fight for funding.”

Catherine Truitt on Charter Schools and School Choice: “What I’d like to see is politics taken out of this conversation.”

BEST NC Hosts Debate for State Superintendent Candidates


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