Republican Mark Robinson, who is projected to be North Carolina’s first Black lieutenant governor, will bring his experience as a former factory worker and political outsider to his first elected ofice, he told Fox News.
“I lost two very good-paying jobs, destroyed because of NAFTA,” Robinson told Fox News on Thursday. “We know how detrimental that bad policy can be. … We want to protect our industries here in North Carolina. We want to protect manufacturing, farming. We want to make sure North Carolinians are in charge of their destiny, not some outside entity.”
Robinson defeated Democrat Yvonne Lewis Holley, who was supported by billionaire Mike Bloomberg’s climate group, by more than 3 percentage points, according to preliminary data from the North Carolina State Board of Elections website.
“The bottom line is, they tell you money can’t buy happiness, and money can’t buy an election either,” Robinson said. “We had more donors … more volunteers. … We had people who absolutely, 100% believed in our message.”
What is that message? Robinson describes his platform as pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-school choice, pro-veteran and pro-law enforcement. He first found his way to the political world in 2018 when his impassioned speech to the city council of Greensboro, N.C., about gun rights went viral.
Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, won reelection this year, meaning North Carolina’s governor and lieutenant governor will once again represent different parties.
The state’s current Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, a Republican, ran against Cooper in the 2020 election. Forest was a thorn in Cooper’s side leading up to the election, frequently questioning his coronavirus lockdown decisions in cable news interviews.
“I would love to be able to find ways to work together with Gov. Cooper, but here’s the thing: While I’m willing to work with him, I’m not willing to set aside the principles I believe in,” Robinson said.
“I certainly hope that many of the things I’m fighting for, Gov. Cooper will be on board with. If he’s not, I’m willing to go to bat for the people of North Carolina [and] bring those grievances to him,” he said, adding that pro-veteran policies could be a bipartisan area of agreement.
As lieutenant governor, Robinson will automatically be a member of the State Board of Education. Education has become even more of a hot-button issue in the state as Cooper is restricting middle and high school’s abilities to open because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Forest tried — and failed — to get the State Board of Education to give all schools the choice to reopen in October, the News & Observer reported.
“Children need to be back in school. I have talked to parents all across this state,” Robinson said. “They need the classroom experience.”
Robinson said he hope he is able to attract more voters to the Republican Party when they realize it’s not about the people who run it but the principles of “freedom and equality.”
“We need to start controlling the conversation in terms of who we actually are,” he said. “I’m so glad I’m able to win this race as the first Black lieutenant govenor, but not just as the first Black lieutenant governor but as a conservative Republican. I think this makes the statement that this party is open to everybody.”