GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — North Carolina’s top Republican will be in the Piedmont Triad for a rally next month, according to his website, and it could herald a possible run for governor.
Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a Greensboro native who attended Grimsley High School and UNC Greensboro, announced the rally on his website. Axios reports that insiders believe Robinson will kick off his gubernatorial campaign during the rally at Ace Speedway, which became a flashpoint during the COVID-19 lockdowns in mid-2020 after it didn’t comply with Governor Roy Cooper’s orders.
During a speech at CPAC in early March, he called his intent to run for governor “the worst kept secret” in North Carolina but has not yet made it official.
The rally will be held on April 22 at 4 p.m., with doors opening at 2 p.m. General Admission is free.
Axios connects the political firestorm of the 2020 fight between Cooper and Ace Speedway to Robinson choosing this location for his venue.
The speedway became national news in 2020 after the governor ordered them to shutter for not conforming to COVID-19 precautions. They took the fight to court after being shut down with a temporary restraining order. Other race track owners protested the restrictions.
The owners appeared in court, calling the COVID-19 restrictions “a deathwish” for the business. A judge ruled in favor of the state, which Ace Speedway owners appealed. The Court of Appeals cleared the way for a lawsuit against Dr. Mandy Cohen on behalf of Ace Speedway to go forward in August 2022.
How’s the race stacking up so far?
If Robinson’s rally is truly an announcement of his intent to run, it will come three months after Attorney General Josh Stein announced his intent to run on the Democratic ticket.
North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell has also been floated as a potential Republican candidate, but no one else has declared for the race.
While there are several people who could compete for the slot in the 2024 election, polls have primarily favored a matchup between Robinson and Stein.
State Sen. Rachel Hunt is among a few candidates that have announced their intention to run for the lieutenant governor’s spot that Robinson would vacate if he ran for governor.
Robinson has served as lieutenant governor since he was elected to the office in 2020. He went viral five years ago during an April 2018 meeting of the Greensboro City Council, giving an impassioned speech about his beliefs on gun regulations in response to the cancelation of a gun show at the Greensboro Coliseum. The speech was turned into an NRA advertisement and launched Robinson into the political spotlight.
The issue of the Greensboro Coliseum and gun shows would later become a lawsuit between mayoral hopeful Eric Robert and the city.
Robinson now serves as a board member for the NRA and has made comments about owning an AR-15 that Cooper said called for the overthrow of the government.
The possibility of his run for governor drew a scathing critique published as an opinion in the New York Times, calling him “extremism incarnate.” He has faced criticism for homophobic and anti-transgender comments, including during a podcast appearance in February 2023, as well as accusations that he has perpetuated conspiracy theories about the attack on Paul Pelosi and Michelle Obama’s gender. Most recently, during a March 19 speaking engagement at Trinity Baptist Church in Mooresville, he said that seeing churches that fly the rainbow flag “makes him sick.”
During his time as lieutenant governor, he started the FACTS Taskforce, dedicated to “exposing indoctrination in the classroom” and giving parents a way to submit instructional material or library books found in North Carolina schools that parents or community members find objectionable. This venture has inspired local parents to form groups to accomplish similar goals within their own school districts.
He has been open about his anti-abortion views at various speaking engagements, recently calling North Carolina a “destination state for death” on a radio appearance where he side-stepped announcing his run for governor. Critics have pointed out that Robinson’s own wife has gotten an abortion, which he has lamented as “the hardest decision we ever made, and, sadly, we made the wrong one.”
Talking Points Media combed through nearly a decade of social media activity, calling him a “Facebook brawler who rails against gays, blacks and Jews,” citing posts where he discusses antisemitic conspiracy theories like globalism and the New World Order.
If Robinson does run for governor and is elected, he’d be the state’s first Black governor.