My Democratic Primary Endorsements

Last fall, I made public endorsements in local elections. It was my first foray into endorsements, and I heard both appreciation and criticism. I’m sure the same will be true with these primary endorsements, and I welcome any feedback that you want to send to

This is long, because when I take a stand on things I want you to know why. And I’m not wading in on every race on your ballot – just the ones where I feel strongly about who should win and know the candidates well enough to vouch for them personally.

Early voting starts tomorrow and goes through Saturday, March 2. Primary Day is March 5. Absentee ballots should be requested now and must be received by March 5 (stupid new GOP law…). Make sure you vote.

Endorsements below.


Attorney General – Satana Deberry

Many were surprised that I immediately endorsed Durham District Attorney Satana Deberry when she announced her bid for Attorney General.

I did not do this lightly. Satana is the only candidate in the race that has the life and legal experience to make a difference in a job that holds significant power to deliver on everything from voting rights to criminal justice to the environment in North Carolina.

She is far and away the most qualified candidate for a very important job, having worked as an attorney in criminal justice, environmental justice, housing access, and consumer protection.

But I hear consistently from Dems concerned about her “electability” and scared by the specter of Dan “HB2” Bishop as Attorney General.

I say bring it on.

I’d love to see Satana take on Bishop head-to-head – standing strong as a queer, black, Hamlet, NC, to Princeton to Duke-educated, woman in the face of his stupid bigotry. Further, we need Satana’s fire to be part of our overall slate’s appeal to the Democratic electorate. Simply put, I do not believe we can win North Carolina with the top of the ticket dominated by white moderates.

Supreme Court – Allison Riggs

Governor Cooper appointed Justice Riggs to the Supreme Court in 2023, but many of you may know her best for her long tenure at Southern Coalition for Social Justice. SCSJ has been on the front lines of so many battles around democracy, civil rights, and gerrymandering over the last decade plus. We need her progressive values and brilliant legal mind on the bench as so many harmful GOP laws that take away our rights make their way through the courts.

Focusing on electing Democrats to the courts will be one of my top priorities in 2024. And we need Allison at the top of the ticket. She talks about the courts’ impact on our lives in bold ways, which could actually excite voters about judicial elections.

Treasurer – Wesley Harris

Wesley has been my colleague in the NCGA, where he is our only Ph.D. economist. His combination of economic thought and political savvy are just what’s needed for the role of State Treasurer. The two primary responsibilities of the role are managing the state’s health and retirement plans, so it says a lot that Wesley has been endorsed by the political arm of the State Employees Association of NC.

Insurance – Natasha Marcus

I can’t tell you the number of times last year that I thought “Thank God for Natasha Marcus.” In our Senate debates against the worst parts of the GOP agenda, Natasha was dependable as one of our most fierce debaters. For example, watch this video of her speaking against the abortion ban. What we need in a Commissioner of Insurance is someone who’s going to fight for working families and their bottom line, especially when the insurance companies are asking for a 40% rate increase this year. Natasha is going to fight against unfair rate increases and be responsive to the needs of consumers in a way the Commissioner of Insurance hasn’t been in years.

General Assembly

I know it’s rare to wade into Democratic primaries among my own colleagues, but I feel compelled to. I’m endorsing two challengers where the incumbent legislator is someone whom I know well, and where the challenger will be a better team player. We need legislators who will reliably vote to uphold progressive values, especially on veto overrides, and who will work hard to win back legislative majorities. There are other legislative primary challengers who may also meet those criteria, but these are the two I can vouch for personally. And if they’ve got the chutzpah to run against incumbents, I will have their back because I know that their service in the General Assembly will mean a stronger Democratic Party with leaders who are willing to fight for their constituents, not get used by Republicans seeking “bipartisan” cover for their harmful agenda.

Senate District 22 (Durham) – Sophia Chitlik 

Sophia is running for election for the first time in a year where female voters will set the tone for everything that happens. I love that she has developed a policy platform around the word “care”. Care for our children, care for our caregivers, and care for our communities. It’s a new way to make people understand what their government should do for them, and why they need Democrats to do it. Durham deserves legislators who are going to make the strongest possible case for progress in North Carolina, and legislators who will work their butts off to help elect more Democrats statewide. I’d love to have Sophia as a colleague in those efforts.

House District 27 (Halifax, Northampton, Warren) – Rodney Pierce

Rodney is a teacher, and he has spent his career in some of the most poorly-funded districts in the state. I’ve known Rodney for almost ten years because he has been one of our state’s most consistent advocates for school children. His passion for educational equity and mine are closely aligned. We need him in Raleigh bringing voice for those kids, their families, and their communities.

Cool fact: Rodney spends his free time researching black North Carolinians and helping get those silver and black roadside history signs erected to honor their contributions to our state.

Orange County School Board – Jennifer Moore, Wendy Padilla, and Carrie Doyle

I’ve had kids in Orange County Schools since 1998, with one still making his way through. Way before entering the Legislature, my public service included many volunteer roles with Orange County Schools.

Throughout those many years, OCS has always had a tensions about progress that often manifest themselves around race and culture. I have tried to support leaders who take action to interrupt long patterns of inequity and replace them with inclusiveness. And I have opposed those who claim they want progress and the best for our students but undermine concrete action.

Jennifer Moore, Wendy Padilla, and Carrie Doyle are the three best candidates to advance our schools excellence and embrace our students’ diversity.

Last year, the Orange County School Board forced out an equity-focused, black female Superintendent, Monique Felder. I was highly critical of the Board’s action, and they have never fully explained nor defended their decision. I’d encourage you to read this article from The Assembly. It’s a long read, but if you care about our schools and the values behind our education, at least read the last few pages.

Everything that happened last year harkened back to a memory I have from 2007 and 2008.  I co-chaired the district’s first committee on addressing racial achievement gaps. Our talented, equity minded black female superintendent, Shirley Carraway, left in the middle of a school board election and after the election the board flipped hands. The night we presented our report to the Board, Steve Halkiotis staged a coup and became Board Chair in his very first meeting. After receiving our report, he thanked us and moved on. Progress on equity work stalled.

As you can see from The Assembly article, Halkiotis still plays an outsized role in this ongoing saga even though he’s no longer on the board. (That committee report still stands up pretty well, by the way.)

Moore, Padilla, and Doyle have the support of a new group called Communities Supporting Orange County Schools. They also have the endorsements of IndyWeek and the Orange County Association of Educators.

These three women are exactly who we want on local school boards – mothers and educators who want our schools to welcome, care for, and educate every single child.

  • Doyle, herself a high school science teacher, has been a steadfast and level-headed board member (including as chair) and will be needed to help the board bridge differences and work together.
  • Moore has brought multiple valuable lenses to the board as a black mother and as someone who works in special education.
  • Padilla would be our first Latina school board member, and our district is currently up to 26% Latino students.

It pains me to live in an era when our culture wars are being waged through the one institution that should do the most to unite us – our public schools. Sadly, this is not new to our country, nor to Orange County. 

Voters get to make a choice about who will represent us. And those we elect, whether they be school board, legislature, or anything else, make decisions that set the course for the future. When I think of who I want making those decisions, I want a combination of progressive thought and pragmatic decision making. I hope you agree.