Trump pledges to back Mark Robinson for North Carolina governorship

GREENSBORO, North Carolina (AP) — Former President Donald Trump said Saturday night in North Carolina that he would back Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson for governor in a move many delegates expect to cement Robinson’s place as a frontrunner in a competitive GOP primary and propel him to the governor’s office.

Trump threw his support behind the sharp-voiced Robinson at the state’s GOP convention in Greensboro in one of his first public appearances since being hit with an indictment this week. landmark – the first federal case against a former president.

Trump said he would save his official endorsement for another time, but told Robinson from the stage, “You can count on it, Mark.” He called Robinson “one of the great stars of the party, one of the great stars of politics”.

The former president, meanwhile, faces 37 counts of improperly storing sensitive nuclear capabilities documents at his Florida estate, enlisting aides to help him hide documents requested by the investigators and showing a Pentagon “attack plan” and a classified map.

But several North Carolina delegates, who greeted the former president and 2024 GOP frontrunner with resounding applause, dismissed the indictment as a bad-faith attack by President Joe Biden’s administration to undermine his strongest competitor.

Many Republican voters expect the indictment, which Trump has called a “travesty of justice,” to boost his presidential campaign — and boost Robinson’s along with it.

“In many ways he reminds me of Trump in that he doesn’t pull any punches,” said Mia Brydie, a 52-year-old GOP delegate from Greensboro. “I admire him because he is a man who speaks for the people.”

Robinson was elected in 2020 as the state’s first black lieutenant governor in his first bid for public office. He would make a similar story if he won the governorship.

Brydie, a black woman, said she felt Robinson was the best person to represent her and other black and working-class families. Robinson released an autobiography last year that spoke of a childhood in poverty and the various financial challenges he faced as an adult.

But some party members have questioned whether Robinson’s long history of harsh comments — whom some women, Jews and members of the LGBTQ+ community have called misogynistic, anti-Semitic and homophobic — could hurt the chances of the party to regain the post of governor closely. divided state.

Robinson’s campaign did not immediately respond to email and phone messages Saturday seeking comment.

Despite Republican success in controlling both houses of the state legislature, the GOP has won the governorship only once since 1992 — in 2012. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has held the post for 2017, is time limited and cannot run again. in 2024.

State Attorney General Josh Stein is the only prominent Democrat to have entered the race to succeed Cooper. His campaign spokeswoman, Kate Frauenfelder, said she expects Trump’s endorsement of Robinson “to stir up even more chaos in the already messy Republican primary.”

State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who is running against Robinson in the GOP primary, told The Associated Press via text message Saturday during Trump’s speech that he never intended to ask or receive the approval of the former president.

Trump “doesn’t know me or my background for governing or explaining conservatism without offending people,” Folwell said.

Charles Norwood, a delegate from Hampstead, said shortly before Trump’s speech on Saturday that he was undecided about which gubernatorial candidate to back.

Robinson is “very dynamic,” Norwood said. But he and his wife, Lynn, said they both lean towards Folwell, who impressed them during his tenure as state treasurer.

“Mark has enthusiasm, but he may not be familiar with the levers of power,” Norwood said. “It may not work as well with the political system as it does with the emotional system.”

Robinson, Norwood said, is “not as politically sophisticated” as Folwell. But husband and wife agreed that Robinson’s endorsement of Trump would be enough to sway them “because Trump is going to be president and the governor should be on his side,” he said.

Jonathan Bridges, campaign spokesman for former U.S. Representative Mark Walker, another GOP gubernatorial candidate, said he “fully anticipated” Trump’s expression of support for Robinson, but said he didn’t. expects him not to want to follow through with an official endorsement once he learns more about the lieutenant governor.

Jim Forster, an 81-year-old delegate from Guilford County, drew several parallels between Trump and Robinson, including their hardline conservative stances on abortion and LGBTQ+ rights and their uncensored approach to campaign speeches. Like Trump, Robinson is “strong and aggressive,” he said.

“He would make a lot of mistakes but also do a lot of good things,” Forster said. “He’s loud, he’s loud, he’s pushy and he’s right – that’s what makes him special.”


Hannah Schoenbaum is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.


Associated Press writer Gary Robertson contributed from Raleigh.

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