Results From The March 5 Primaries

Written By: Olivia Meade, Caleb Cook, and Jarrett Sullivan

While the Republican presidential primary was the main headliner on Super Tuesday, there was a flurry of activity at the state level worthy of attention, including gubernatorial and attorney general primaries in North Carolina, an intraparty war in Texas, and a mental health ballot measure with a high price tag in California.

North Carolina Gubernatorial Results

North Carolina is no stranger to battleground elections, and the 2024 governor’s race is shaping up to be the most expensive and contested in state history.

Republicans are looking to take back the governor’s office for the first time since Governor Pat McCrory (R) lost his reelection bid in 2016. Their chosen candidate for the job is Lt. Governor Mark Robinson (R), who advanced from the primary election with approximately 65% of the votes, defeating State Treasurer Dale Folwell and former prosecutor Bill Graham.

Robinson was elected North Carolina’s lieutenant governor in 2020. He has listed education as his top priority, but has also highlighted his support for increased access to firearms, law enforcement, and pro-life policies. He was endorsed by former President Donald Trump (R) during a rally in Greensboro on March 2. Leading up to the March 5 primary, Robinson was criticized by his Republican challengers on previous statements he made towards minority groups. In the second half of 2023, his campaign raised over $3.3 million, and he had nearly $4.3 million on hand for his campaign at the beginning of this year.

The Democratic primary race was less hostile, with Attorney General Josh Stein (D) seen as the long-time frontrunner for the nom. Stein closed the day with approximately 70% of the votes, defeating several opponents with various judicial backgrounds. Stein was elected attorney general in 2017 and previously served four terms as a state senator. His campaign has focused on education, the economy, and public safety as well as his accomplishments in state government. Stein has dominated campaign fundraising, raising over $5.7 million during the second half of 2023, with $11.4 million on hand.   

Democrats have controlled the governor’s office for 26 of the past 30 years. If Robinson wins in November, Republicans would secure a trifecta in the state. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has rated the election a Toss-up, while the Cook Political Report has rated it Lean Democratic.


North Carolina Attorney General Results

In the Democratic primary, three candidates, Jeff Jackson, Satana Deberry, and Tim Dunn, competed for an opportunity to challenge Dan Bishop, the Republican nominee, for the job as top lawyer for the Tar Heel State.

Jeff Jackson (D) has secured the Democratic nomination with 55% of the vote. Jackson is the current congressman for the 14th district. In 2014, Jackson became the second-youngest state senator and has served as the assistant district attorney for Gaston County. Jackson continues to serve in the military today as a Major in the Army National Guard. Jackson has campaigned on protection of reproductive rights, addressing the fentanyl crisis through enforcement and treatment, and protection of voting rights.  

After facing no competition within his party, Dan Bishop sailed to the general election as the Republican nominee. Bishop currently represents the 8th district in the U.S. House and previously served as a state senator. Before entering politics, Bishop worked as a litigation attorney. Bishop has campaigned on addressing federal overreach, supporting law enforcement, and defending laws without consideration of his personal beliefs.


North Carolina State Treasurer Results

Three candidates were arrayed in the Republican primary for state treasurer: Brad Briner, A.J. Daoud, and Rachel Johnson. Two contenders, Gabriel Esparza and State Representative Wesley Harris, faced each other in the Democratic primary.

Briner won the Republican Party’s nomination with approximately 40% of the vote. Briner, born in Dallas, Texas, attended the University of North Carolina and worked in the private sector as an investment manager. He has been affiliated with the Boston Omaha Corporation Board of Directors, the Phillips Exeter Academy, and the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees. If elected, Briner pledges to transfer authority for making investments from the state treasurer to a committee, and to generate better returns for North Carolina’s taxpayers, state employees, and retirees through improved asset allocation and investment selection. A video ad by his campaign features alphabet soup with letters that form the word “woke,” “DEI,” and “ESG.” Briner has stated that “Social justice is a radical political movement, not a sound investment strategy” and that he supports North Carolina’s existing rules preventing state funds from considering non-fiduciary factors when making investments.

Representative Harris secured the Democratic Party’s nomination with approximately 67% of the vote. Harris, raised in Taylorsville, North Carolina, attended the University of North Carolina and earned a Ph.D. from Clemson University. He spent time teaching and working in private economic consulting before running for state representative in 2018, when he defeated incumbent Representative Scott Stone (R). Harris was elected to a second term in the 2020 general election. He is running on a platform that advocates for improved state employee benefits, long-term planning for state finances, and maintaining North Carolina’s bond rating.


Texas Legislative Primary Results

After a contentious year in the Capitol, Texas voters were witness to some of the fiercest Republican legislative primaries in the country. Governor Greg Abbott (R) is determined to establish school vouchers, and has supported primary challengers of GOP incumbents who were not onboard with his failed legislative efforts. After he emerged from an unsuccessful impeachment trial last fall, Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) backed challengers of GOP incumbents who adopted the impeachment articles. Lieutenant Governor–and Republican leader of the state senate–Dan Patrick (R) and House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) had been publicly feuding for months.

All of this led to 16 Republicans, including Speaker Phelan, having primary challengers. Phelan was challenged by David Covey, a county GOP chair with resources and relationships, and Alicia Davis. Former President Donald Trump (R), Patrick, and Paxton all endorsed Covey while former Governor Rick Perry (R) campaigned for Phelan. Since there is no Democratic challenger for this seat, the winner takes all. In the end, Neither Phelan nor Covey secured enough votes to win the primary outright: Both candidates will move on to the May 28 runoff.


California Prop 1 Results

Voters in California held a primary yesterday for congressional, state legislative, and local offices. Also on the ballot was Proposition 1, a legislatively referred statue that would rename the Mental Health Services Act to the Behavioral Health Services Act and expand its purpose to cover substance use disorders, including for persons without a mental illness. Prop 1 would also issue $6.38 billion in bonds to fund housing for homeless individuals and veterans. Governor Gavin Newsom (D), who proposed the measure along with State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D), launched the Yes on Prop 1 campaign in early January to champion the ballot measure. Over $14 million was raised from longtime allies of the Newsom administration. California utilizes mail-in ballots, making the counting process longer. Election night results give a slight edge to supporters: 50.2% of returned ballots marked "yes" for the measure, while 49.8% of returned ballots marked "no." Officials have until April 5 to process and count ballots.


Legislative Leadership Changes on the Horizon

North Carolina Speaker Tim Moore (R) entered the race for the 14th congressional district last fall. Representative Destin Hall (R) is now expected to become the next speaker in 2025 after four potential leaders coalesced around him. Hall does not face any challengers for his seat in the North Carolina House.

In Arkansas, changes to house leadership are anticipated after Speaker Matthew Shepherd (R) decided not to seek another term as speaker, although he is running for reelection. Multiple representatives are vying for the position of majority leader as well.

The Maine House will see leadership changes, too, as Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross (D) is now running for a seat in the state senate.