Sunday, July 14, 2024

NC Chamber says primary election results threaten business climate

The NC Chamber, the business-promotion group that exerts influence at the N.C. General Assembly, says Tuesday’s primary election results “were a startling warning of the looming threats to North Carolina’s business climate.”

In its digital newsletter, the Chamber said, “In many instances, previously unknown candidates defeated sitting legislators and elected officials with stronger qualifications, pristine voting records, and significantly more funding.”

The Chamber cited the defeat of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt, who outspent opponent Michelle Morrow by eight times and “ran a strong campaign.” Morrow has never taught in a public school or been an employed faculty member, but painted Truitt as a moderate, “Republican in Name Only,” the Chamber said.

Morrow will now face Democratic candidate Maurice Green, who is widely known among state business and education leaders after serving as superintendent of Greensboro’s public schools and leading a large foundation in Winston-Salem.

The chamber also bemoaned the loss of N.C. lawmaker Jon Hardister, who was defeated by attorney Luke Farley. He was described by the business group as a “far-right candidate” whose main issues were banning vaccine requirements for employees and “making elevators great again.” Hardister lost by 9 percentage points. Farley now faces Democratic candidate Braxton Winston, a Charlotte city councilman.

“There is nobody more qualified than Luke Farley to serve as Labor Commissioner,” says campaign spokesman David Capen. He notes Farley is an experienced safety and health lawyer who was endorsed by former Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry.

The Chamber said it invested about $200,000 in nine legislative races, with five of its favored candidates winning. They were House candidates Allen Chesser, Cecil Brockman, Grant Campbell, Carla Cunningham and Senate candidate Bob Brinson.

But four candidates supported by the Chamber lost: Michael Wray, Michelle Bardsley, Kevin Crutchfield and Holly Edwards.

“When both parties move to the opposite ends of the political spectrum, it erodes the quiet, bipartisan work necessary to move our state forward,” the Chamber said. “Moderating voices in each caucus will be replaced with partisan ideologues that cause division and create controversy.”

While a nonpartisan organization, the Chamber has been strongly supportive of the conservative fiscal agenda championed by state GOP leaders, particularly Senate Pro Tem President Phil Berger. Its board is chaired by Glen Raven executive Derek Steed and includes representatives of many large N.C. employers.

David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at

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