Former GOP rep launches bid for North Carolina governor

Former GOP Rep. Mark Walker launched a bid for the Republican nomination for governor of North Carolina on Saturday, declaring that he would campaign on education, economic “freedom” and “protecting” children and families.

Walker, who previously served as vice chair of the House Republican Conference and represented the state’s 6th Congressional District for six years, announced his campaign at a launch event in the town of Kernersville.

“We are North Carolina proud – we love our state and our nation, and we are called by God to defend our friends, our families, and our freedoms,” he said. “It’s why we participate in our republic, and it’s why we advance the ideas of conservatism, because we believe that individual freedoms, and respect for rights that are God-given, are what make us strong.”

Walker called for blocking “federal mandates” for education during his speech, saying that decision-making should be returned to school boards and parents.

“Until we bring about true education reform for our state, we cannot fundamentally change our trajectory. This is how we empower the American family in the 21st Century,” he said.

Walker said North Carolina has the opportunity to lead the country in multiple economic sectors and needs to stay ahead of the number of people moving to the state. He said the state should increase infrastructure on its highways and ports and spread broadband access to all parts of the state.

He also said he would be “tireless” in fighting against the use of gender-affirming care for transgender children, which he claimed is damaging children and families.

Walker will be running to succeed incumbent Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who is term-limited and cannot seek reelection in 2024. The race to lead the swing state will likely be one of the highest-profile governor’s races in the country next year.

Walker will face at least Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R), who has been seen as an early frontrunner for the nomination, and state Treasurer Dale Folwell in the primary. Other candidates may also join the race.

“We need a candidate who can hold up to a level of scrutiny not witnessed in our history at the state level. Our candidate for governor will be under a microscope, and that candidate must be able to withstand a complete examination by the press and by our political adversaries,” Walker said. “I am that candidate, and I believe that I am the only one who can win both the primary and the general election.”

Walker previously ran for an open Senate seat to succeed the retiring Sen. Richard Burr (R) last year, but he came in third in the Republican primary.

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