RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – The course for Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s political future has drawn discussion about a new direction.
Before becoming North Carolina lieutenant governor in 2020, the Republican from Greensboro rose to public prominence when his comments in 2018 about guns to the Greensboro City Council became a social media phenomenon.
More recently Robinson has drawn attention for comments that attacked gays and abortion, an address to the National Rifle Association convention a few days after the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and, last week, at a church in Charlotte when he said Christians are “called to be led by men” and urged men to “put on the whole armor of God.”
That appearance, first reported by WRAL, was criticized because it seemed to alienate women. Robinson, a devout Christian, rebuked that perspective in a follow-up statement, saying his comments were “directed towards men, encouraging men to stand up and take on the role of leadership…to be leaders in their homes, in their communities, in their state, in their nation.”
He, in October 2021, said he was “95% sure” he would run for governor and has long has been considered the front-runner for the Republican nomination to succeed Gov. Roy Cooper, but an item published Tuesday by Colin Campbell, editor of the subscription-based political newsletter North Carolina Tribune, threw out the idea that Robinson could be encouraged to run for Congress instead.
There is a back story beyond Robinson’s recent controversial remarks. After the election in November, Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) are said to be considering a special session to draw new political boundaries for Congress and the General Assembly to be used in the 2024 election.
The maps currently in place were one-cycle draws required by the North Carolina Supreme Court, on a 4-3 Democratic margin, and overseen by special masters appointed by a trial court. Republican leaders believe they have a chance to take the majority in the Supreme Court in November, which would make them more likely to prevail in inevitable court challenges.
The congressional maps this year are likely to elect seven Republicans and six Democrats, with the 13th District a guessing game, and the map originally drawn by the General Assembly had a likely 10-4 advantage for the GOP, maybe even 11-3.
Part of that map was a district that would’ve diluted the Democratic stronghold of Guilford County by splitting voters into multiple districts, thus providing the possibility of a Republican taking a seat held since 2020 by Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro).
That’s where this latest concept with Robinson comes into play, because Greensboro is his hometown, and it could be drawn into a “safe Republican district.”
Campbell wrote: “As Robinson has faced more criticism over controversial comments, rumors are swirling in GOP circles that party leaders might encourage him to run for Congress instead of governor in 2024.
“If Robinson (who has all but announced plans to run for governor) is willing to redirect his ambitions toward Washington, D.C., Republicans might coalesce behind a less controversial politician to run for governor – possibly State Treasurer Dale Folwell or U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis.”
Ironically, Folwell, the state treasurer since 2017 after spending 8 years representing District 74 in the state House, has lived in the Triad and earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNC-Greensboro.
Robinson, a military veteran, had no political experience before deciding on the bid for the job he has now. It’s unclear what he might think about a bid for Congress, and an attempt to reach a spokesperson for him was unsuccessful.