With less than two weeks before Election Day, down-ballot candidates are ramping up their efforts to get their message and name out there Nov. 8.
In addition to the presidential, senatorial and gubernatorial races going on in the state, the races for the Council of State are also ramping up.
With the current attorney general, Roy Cooper, running for governor, two men who have served in the state senate are stepping up to try to become the next attorney general.
Republican Sen. Buck Newton is running against Josh Stein, a Democrat.
The attorney general is head of the state Department of Justice and is charged with providing legal representation and advice to all state agencies.
As of the most recent poll numbers available this month, 40 percent of those polled said that they were planning on voting for Newton while 38 percent said they plan on voting for Stein, with 18 percent undecided.
The spread between the two candidates falls within the margin of error of 4 points, putting the two candidates in a statistical tie.
Newton’s poll numbers in the polls conducted by the Civitas Institute over the last few months have been steadily increasing, growing from 32 percent in April to 35 percent in both June and September. He inched ahead of Stein for the first time this month.
Stein began with 37 percent in April, the only spread outside of the margin of error in the poll, then dropped to 35 percent in June and rose back up to 37 percent in September.
Over the course of the election, the number of voters who were still undecided fell from 30 percent in April to 18 percent this month, but with 18 percent of the electorate still on the fence anything could happen Nov. 8.
Newton heads the law firm of Newton and Lee, in his hometown, Wilson.
In the Senate, he represents Johnston, Nash and Wilson counties, and has been known as champion for Second Amendment rights.
On Newton’s campaign site he says he “adamantly defends the constitutional rights our Founding Fathers reserved for all citizens. He authored the Castle Doctrine law, which expanded the number of places concealed carry permit holders can carry firearms for self-defense. He also sponsored legislation that helps protect the right to life of the unborn and the Bathroom Protection Act that protects women and children’s safety and privacy.”
Newton has received both support and been criticized over the issue of HB 2, the bathroom bill, most recently in WRAL’s endorsement of Stein, “Editorial: It’s Josh Stein for attorney general over HB2’s cheerleader.”
Newton says that he will protect Constitutional values, stand up to Washington, D.C., save money on energy, implement responsible budgets and toughen penalties on criminals.
Stein, who resigned his seat in March, represented a portion of Wake County in the state Senate.
Prior to that, he served in the State Attorney General’s Office.
Stein lists his priorities as promoting public safety, protecting seniors and consumers and preserving clean air and water.
The Council of State offices have a wide range of responsibilities, including the state’s fiscal health, the prosecution of the law, and the efficient administration of state and local governmental bodies and agencies.
In addition to the race for governor, there are nine other statewide races that make up the Council of State.
The November winners will take over the Offices of the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, the State Auditor, and the Attorney General; and the Departments of Agriculture, Insurance, Labor and Public Instruction.