RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – Amid all the talk about Democrat Josh Stein’s campaign for governor and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s plans to announce a bid for the Republican nomination, there is a new face in the field.

Libertarian Mike Ross, a businessman from Gaston County, announced last week that he has joined Stein, the sitting attorney general, as the only confirmed candidates for the office that Gov. Roy Cooper will vacate in November 2024 after eight years.

Mike Ross is the Libertarian candidate for North Carolina governor in 2024. (firetheuniparty.com)

Stein and Robinson are expected to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in that pursuit, but Political blogger and Catawba College professor Michael Bitzer’s tracking site for state races also includes other possible candidates said to be exploring campaigns.

Republican possibilities are Mark Walker, the former member of Congress from Greensboro; State Treasurer Dale Folwell – who both have said they are mulling runs – Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and even U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis. The only other Democrat mentioned is EPA Director Michael Regan, an NC A&T alum.

Firmly entering that picture is Ross, who on March 18 at the Libertarian Party’s state convention was introduced as the party’s candidate by pastor Moses Colbert of Gastonia, which whom Ross had become acquainted because of a dispute with the city of Gaston about how Colbert’s church was providing shelter for the homeless. Ross and the Libertarians supported Colbert after the city police arrested an Army veteran there.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, is the only other confirmed candidate for governor. (AP File Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum, File)

“Mark Robinson and Josh Stein will not represent the interests of people in this state,” Ross said during the announcement. “I will.

“I love this amazing state. … This state’s the best. Best cities, best beaches, definitely the best barbecue – sorry, Texas – we are a group of people unlike no other. … We are what sets our state apart from the rest, not the government.

He said schools are worse, infrastructure is crumbling, paychecks have gotten smaller, and the environment is getting trashed.

“Over the last decade or so, I’ve watched people in Raleigh continue to overstep their boundaries as they keep trying to control your business, your wallet and your family,” he told the crowd.

He promised as governor not to intervene in personal lives, dictate education, interfere with honest business, not tolerate government employees “who act like they are above the law,” and not to “infringe on your God-given rights and won’t allow anyone to do so either.”

Not the ‘uniparty’

Ross’s campaign site says he has lived in the Charlotte area for 18 years, and that he has worked as a certified financial planner, owning a venture called “My Money Coach” since 2018. He is married to Brandy and the father of a son, whom he homeschools, and that “he and his family enjoy spending time by attending church, going to the gun range and having family nights.”

Ross’ website is “firetheuniparty,” which is a term he used in his first speech. “We want to show that there is an alternative to the Republican and Democratic candidates,” Rob Yates, Ross’ campaign manager, told WGHP.

Ross offers a simple philosophy on his website to reinforce his view – consistent with Libertarian positions – of full transparency in government. He lists his prime issues as:

  • Free-market education: Parents should decide what teachers teach, not the state, and the state will “wind down the current monopoly on education.”  He also offers basic sets of curricula to “ensure every child is prepared for adulthood.”
  • Protecting the police and the public: Improving investments in policing but also ending controversial police protections such as qualified immunity and no-knock warrants and reinforcing body-camera transparency and the inclusion of civilian review boards.
  • “Peace through prosperity:” Free-market values that decrease taxation on businesses.
  • The environment: Eliminate many “draconian regulatory limits” but also protect beaches, wetlands, mountains and farmland from “nefarious corporate and international parties.”
  • Controlled substances: Don’t worry about victimless crimes and eliminate the government’s control of “what you can and cannot ingest.”
  • Healthcare: Remove the government from doctor-patient relationships and eliminate “unnecessary regulations and endless bureaucracy.” These include certificates of need and prescription import restrictions while requiring billing transparency.

‘Few people are as qualified’

Ross is listed as the development coordinator under the finance director on the Libertarian Party of North Carolina’s website. Ryan Brown was installed as its chair during that same convention.

“Our annual state convention was a huge success, and Mike’s campaign announcement was one of the highlights,” Brown said in a statement provided to WGHP. “I have known Mike for some time now, and there are few people as qualified, as principled, and as dedicated to making North Carolina a better place for everyone who lives here.

“Mike isn’t the only candidate, of course, and our state would be lucky to have Shannon [Bray] in office, or any Libertarian, which is something the people here are clearly realizing, as we continue to break records for the number of registered Libertarians.”

Shannon Bray was the Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate seat won last November by Republican Ted Budd of Advance. Bray finished third behind Democrat Cheri Beasley with 1.37% of the vote.