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Josh Stein: Always putting the people of North Carolina first

Attorney General Josh Stein learned early on that some things are worth fighting for, no matter the opposition. His parents grounded him in our shared values of freedom, justice, and opportunity for everyone, and his faith teaches him that we are all children of God and we are called to make a difference. That’s why, as North Carolina’s Attorney General and as a state Senator before, Josh has taken on powerful special interests to protect families.

Josh and his team have worked hard to keep families safe, hold corporate wrongdoers accountable for the damage they’ve done, make polluters pay to clean up the messes they make, and defend your reproductive and voting rights.

Josh grew up in Chapel Hill and Charlotte and is a graduate of Harvard Law School, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Dartmouth College. He and his wife Anna live in Raleigh, are members of Temple Beth Or, and have three children who all attended North Carolina public schools, just like they did. Josh enjoys biking, watching college sports and the Carolina Hurricanes, and (in his younger days) playing soccer.

Josh’s Priorities

Making the Economy Work for Everyone

Everybody deserves a fair shot at prosperity – to get a good job or start a business – anywhere in this state, including small town North Carolina. If you work hard, where you come from should never limit how far you can go.

North Carolina’s economy is strong and growing, but not everyone is benefiting from that growth. The rising cost of housing, groceries, medicine, and other basic needs is making life too expensive for too many families. As Attorney General, I’ve fought against predatory corporations that were driving up prices for North Carolinians. As your Governor, I’ll keep working to deliver the economic security and peace of mind that every North Carolinian deserves by lowering costs, raising the minimum wage, and cutting taxes for working families.

I’m proud that North Carolina has been the #1 state for business two years in a row, but future success is not a given. Instead of waging job-killing culture wars, I’ll keep fighting to invest in our people – who are our greatest asset. Our talented workforce and excellent community colleges and universities make North Carolina an attractive destination for families and businesses. As Governor, I’ll work to bring new business to the state, continue building a strong workforce, and create job opportunities for folks in every corner of the state.

Improving Education

There is no greater priority than ensuring our kids get the quality education they need to succeed in life. Yet, North Carolina spends less than nearly all other states in the nation on public school funding as a share of our state’s economy – 49th out of 50! It’s a disgrace. The state legislature is making it harder for our children to learn and compete by defunding public education.

North Carolina’s kids need good teachers in every classroom and good principals in every school. As Attorney General, I worked to defend students’ constitutional right to receive a sound basic education by properly funding public education, but extreme politicians continue to undermine and underfund our public schools year after year.

We have to work together to bolster public education from pre-kindergarten through community college and university. We must increase access to high-quality early childhood education so kids start kindergarten healthy and ready to learn. We must support our educators and give teachers meaningful pay raises to recruit and keep the best and brightest teachers for our kids. We must also invest in other critical school staff, including counselors, nurses, social workers, and bus drivers. We must help kids who are struggling from lost instructional time to meet their learning goals, reduce the number of students absent from school, and confront the mental health crisis that is plaguing our kids. No child should show up to the classroom hungry, which is why I will work to invest in universal, healthy school meals for all public school students. We must give our kids access to the tools they need for a bright future — from textbooks to technology and career and technical education. And we must do everything we can to keep our kids safe from gun violence, which is now the leading cause of death for kids.

And we must ensure that North Carolinians who want to continue their education or training can afford it, including keeping tuition affordable at our public universities and making our community colleges tuition no-cost for students training in our state’s growing, high-demand industries. That way, our students can get good paying jobs and our businesses can hire the workers they need. Additionally, North Carolina has the largest number of four year historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and largest HBCU student population in the nation. Our HBCUs are critical to our state’s success, and the state must do a better job supporting them.

I’m proud to have been endorsed by the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) in this campaign, and as Governor, I’ll work tirelessly to improve public education to ensure a brighter future for all children.

Building a Strong Workforce

North Carolina’s greatest asset is our people. That’s why investing in public education, workforce development, and job training is critical to a brighter future.

North Carolinians should be able to find good-paying jobs without taking on crippling student debt. We need to strengthen career and technical education and expand apprenticeship programs because folks shouldn’t have to go to college to support their family. As your Governor, I’ll champion no-cost community college for students pursuing coursework in our state’s growing, high-demand industries and support community colleges that are training students for the good-paying jobs of today and tomorrow.

I also know that strengthening our workforce requires strong support for working families, including ensuring quality, accessible, and affordable child care and early childhood education. Parents need to know their kids are safe and thriving while they’re at work. As your Governor, I’ll advocate for investments in our early childhood educators, quality child care centers, and for more early childhood education slots to keep children learning, parents working, and our economy growing.

Keeping North Carolinians Safe

No one should have to worry whether their kids are safe when they’re at school or at play or whether their loved ones are safe when they’re at work or at worship.

As North Carolina’s chief law enforcement officer since 2017, keeping people safe has been my top priority. That’s why my office has prosecuted and convicted violent criminals, including murderers, rapists, and child sex abusers. I’ve worked with both Republicans and Democrats in the legislature to strengthen our laws to protect kids from sex crimes. I’ve also partnered with the legislature to eliminate the nation’s largest backlog of untested rape kits, delivering justice to survivors and putting rapists behind bars. In addition to prosecuting drug traffickers, we’re also working on a bi-partisan basis to tackle the fentanyl crisis.

Our law enforcement officers do critical work in our communities to protect us. That’s why as North Carolina experiences widespread officer shortages, I’ve worked with law enforcement leaders to identify strategies to recruit and retain more public-spirited officers, including hiring bonuses, who will take on this work that is not only dangerous and difficult but also rewarding and important.

We also have to make sure that those who swear an oath to serve and protect have the highest integrity and commitment to justice. As the co-chair of Governor Cooper’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, along with Justice Anita Earls, I helped lead the effort to improve public safety. That means supporting our public-spirited officers and deputies, creating clear rules and training for officers to ensure good outcomes, and improving accountability for those who are not right for the badge. Because of our work, officers now have a duty to intervene when a colleague uses excessive force and early warning systems for law enforcement agencies help correct officers when they make mistakes.

Building safe communities will continue to be a priority for me as your next Governor. I’ll work to tackle violent crime, confront the fentanyl crisis, and recruit and retain well-trained law enforcement officers to serve our communities.

Addressing Housing Affordability

A home should be more than just a roof over your head – it should also be an anchor in a community that’s safe with good schools and jobs and a way for your family to build wealth.

But for too many North Carolinians, buying a home is out of reach and renting a place near their work is unattainable. Too many are unable to find a decent, affordable place to live in their hometown. Too many are unable to raise their family near good jobs and good schools and still pay their bills or save for their kids’ education. Too many find themselves facing rising housing costs because of constrained supply.

In the Attorney General’s office, I have fought predatory mortgage lenders to protect homeowners, investigated concerns of anticompetitive conduct that raises people’s rents, and sued Canary Construction for taking homeowners’ money but failing to do the work. As your Governor, I will work to expand housing options across the state, so that your home is a source of stability, not stress. That means increasing homeownership opportunities, expanding affordable rental housing, and reducing homelessness.

Increasing Access to Health Care

Every North Carolinian should be able to get good health care, no matter where you live or how much money you earn. For more than a decade, the General Assembly refused to expand Medicaid, costing thousands of lives, squandering approximately $40 billion of our own tax dollars, and causing rural hospitals to shutter. I am proud to have worked with Governor Cooper and countless advocates to have convinced the legislature to finally expand Medicaid and deliver life-saving health care to 600,000 North Carolinians.

As your Attorney General, I have taken on big health care fights and won. When Republican Attorneys General across the nation fought to strike down the Affordable Care Act, I worked to successfully defend Obamacare before the U.S. Supreme Court, protecting four million North Carolinians with pre-existing conditions, saving health care access for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians, and keeping prescription drug costs down for more than one million seniors across the state.

I led the bi-partisan effort of state Attorneys General to hold drug companies accountable for the opioid crisis that is devastating families and communities across the state, winning more than $50 billion nationally to help people struggling with opioid addiction become healthy. I have also taken generic drug manufacturers to court for engaging in illegal, anti-competitive price fixing conspiracies to raise the cost of prescription drugs.

We are also working to improve hospital price transparency and to ensure that big hospital chains do not gobble up small rural hospitals, jack up prices, and reduce quality of care. Too many rural hospitals have closed their doors in recent years. Protecting health care access for rural North Carolinians is critical. That’s why I sued HCA Mission for its failure to offer adequate emergency and oncology services to the people of western North Carolina.

Additionally, we are addressing the youth mental health crisis. I am part of the leadership group of states suing Facebook and Instagram and investigating TikTok for the damage they have inflicted on our young people. Too often, these companies do not see young people as children to be protected but as dollar signs to be exploited. They must do better, and I will see them in court if they won’t agree to necessary protections.

We also work to preserve the public’s investment in health care by going after health care fraud. My office’s Medicaid Investigations Division has recovered over $250 million for taxpayers.

As Governor, I will work to increase access to affordable, quality health care for all North Carolinians by building on Medicaid expansion and working to get drug and hospital costs under control. We’ll work to expand telemedicine, increase the number of health care providers in rural North Carolina, promote hospital price transparency, and strengthen our mental health, behavioral health, and drug treatment systems.

Standing Up for Women’s Freedom

Deciding whether and when to have a baby is the most personal decision a woman can make. It is a decision that a woman should make with her loved ones and her doctor. It should not be made by politicians. That’s why I’ve fought back as far-right legislators in Raleigh seek to strip women of their reproductive freedoms and their right to make their own decisions about their own bodies, their own families, and their own futures.

As Attorney General, I have protected access to reproductive health care for all women. I am also fighting to ensure women can continue to access medication abortions.

As Governor, I’ll continue to defend women’s rights and freedoms – whether it’s contraception, IVF or abortion – because extreme politicians in Raleigh are not done yet. My opponent for Governor supports a total abortion ban without exception – not for rape, incest, or to save the life of a mother. As Governor, I will veto any efforts to criminalize women’s freedom over their own bodies.

Protecting our Fundamental Rights

Every North Carolinian deserves to live in a state where they have the freedom to vote, to make their own health care decisions, and to live their lives free from discrimination. My faith teaches me that we’re all children of God, and I believe that hate and bigotry have no place in North Carolina.

As your Attorney General, I have fought to protect all North Carolinians from discrimination, including fighting against voter suppression, restrictions on women’s reproductive freedoms, and attacks against LGBTQ+ North Carolinians.

As your Governor, I’ll continue to oppose those who would divide us and work for a more united North Carolina. We must stand up for ALL North Carolinians and defend our democracy. Legislative Republicans are damaging our democracy to cling to power. We must stand up for what’s right. In our democracy, the people should choose their representatives, not the other way around, and the state should be about protecting people’s right to vote, not restricting it.

Strengthening Rural Communities

For our state’s rural communities not only to survive, but to thrive, we need to protect them and invest in them. North Carolina has more rural residents than any state in the nation, other than Texas. We must support our small towns. Revitalizing rural North Carolina will help us deliver on the promise of North Carolina that if you work hard, where you come from should never limit how far you can go.

But for too long, rural North Carolinians have had to travel long distances to get to work or go to the doctor’s office. They’ve been forced to deal with slow and sporadic internet access, if they have access at all. We must do better.

As Attorney General, I have fought to protect rural hospitals, combat the opioid crisis, champion broadband expansion, support economic development initiatives in rural North Carolina, and strengthen public schools.

As Governor, I’ll work tirelessly to serve all North Carolinians and grow opportunities in our rural communities. That means fighting to keep their hospitals so they can receive quality health care. That means investing in revitalization efforts, supporting small business owners, and incentivizing companies to expand or relocate in rural counties. That means supporting agriculture, our state’s number one industry, and expanding global markets to our crops and products. That means delivering high-speed and affordable internet access to every household so people can engage, learn, and compete in today’s online world and economy. That means investing in other critical infrastructure, like water and sewer, roads, and commuter rail. And that means strengthening our public schools and community colleges that are the backbones of rural North Carolina.

Supporting Small Businesses

Small business is critical to North Carolina’s economy. They provide job opportunities for 1.7 million North Carolinians, serve their communities, and drive innovation in our state. I’m proud that in 2023, North Carolina was ranked the fifth best state in the country to start a small business and the top state for business by CNBC. I applaud North Carolina’s small business owners’ hard work and initiative to power our economy.

Small business owners embody the American Dream, but we know that owning a small business can be challenging and requires resilience, enterprise, and innovation. After law school, I worked with the North Carolina Minority Credit Union Support Center to raise capital to invest in small businesses, primarily in eastern North Carolina. I saw how hard these entrepreneurs worked to grow their businesses. As Attorney General, I have fought for small businesses to have access to the loans that they need to grow.

As Governor, I’ll fight to ensure entrepreneurs have every opportunity to build wealth by reducing red tape, investing in innovative strategies for economic development, and increasing resources for technical assistance and mentorship programs. I’ll also provide small, minority, and women-owned businesses a fair shot at competing for state contracts.

Protecting & Preserving Our Natural Beauty

North Carolina is home to incredible natural beauty – from the Blue Ridge Mountains to our barrier islands and everywhere in between. And clean air and water are a critical part of our quality of life and a source of our economic strength.

As your Attorney General, I fought for families when polluters poisoned their drinking water. I have taken the companies that dumped GenX and other forever chemicals into the Cape Fear River to court, helped to negotiate the largest excavation of coal ash in the history of the United States – 80 million tons, and then won a $1.1 billion settlement to lower the power bills for millions of North Carolinians. And when the Trump Administration rolled back vital environmental protections and weakened our government’s most effective strategies to combat the climate crisis, I fought to preserve these important safeguards for North Carolina’s natural resources and the health of our people.

As your Governor, I’ll continue to push for clean air and clean water. Unlike politicians like Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson who deny the climate crisis, I will put North Carolina on a path toward carbon neutrality by 2050. I will work to prepare our state for the impacts of climate change and natural disasters by investing in resilient infrastructure. I will continue to lead the transition to a clean energy economy that creates good-paying jobs and keeps our communities healthy and safe.

Supporting Veterans and their Families

North Carolina is home to more than 100,000 active-duty military personnel and nearly 800,000 veterans. Those who served in our armed forces are among the best our country has to offer, and they deserve our gratitude, not only when they protect our interests around the world, but also when they come home.

That’s why, as Attorney General, I stood with a bipartisan group of Attorneys General to protect VA benefits from scammers and urged the Supreme Court to protect the GI benefits our veterans earned. I also fought to protect veterans’ access to the health care they need and deserve and to protect military families from scammers who target them.

North Carolina is the most veteran-friendly state in America, and as Governor, I’ll keep it that way. That means ensuring veterans can get good jobs, receive job training, find affordable housing, get the health care they need, and start a small business after their military service.

Making Government Work for the People

North Carolinians deserve a government that works for them. This General Assembly has gerrymandered districts to discriminate against voters so they can cling to power. They seek to control the executive branch by passing unconstitutional power grabs and have made the courts partisan, given themselves the power to appoint judges, and written themselves out of our state’s public records law to avoid transparency and accountability. They are undermining the separation of powers in our state constitution and our three co-equal and independent branches of government.

As your Governor, I’ll fight corruption and ensure state leaders are working in the best interest of the people. That means going after public corruption and extending cooling off periods before elected officials can become lobbyists. I’ll also fight for an independent redistricting commission so that the people choose their representatives, not the other way around.