When it comes to challenging Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, Republican primary voters now have multiple options. Rep. Holly Grange, R-New Hanover, a West Point graduate announced Thursday morning that she is running for governor, joining Lt. Gov. Dan Forest in the GOP field. She also released a campaign video. "At West Point, they taught us: duty, honor, country. I've dedicated my life to this country," Grange said in a statement announcing her candidacy. "I know North Carolina can do better than career politicians like Roy Cooper. The president is an outsider who gets things done, and I'll do the same. I'll deliver the results the career politicians won't."
Forest has long been considered the Republican frontrunner but his campaign has hit a few bumps in recent months. In April, one of the biggest donors to groups backing Forest, Greg Lindberg, was indicted for allegedly trying to bribe North Carolina's insurance commissioner. And Forest failed to report one of Lindberg's contributions to his campaign. After a speech at a church last month, Forest received pushback for negative comments about diversity and multiculturalism.
Grange works for Osprey Global Solutions business intelligence company and has represented the Wilmington area in the NC House for five years. She chairs the House's banking and elections committees. In Forest, Grange faces a primary opponent who has more money and name recognition but who's still polling behind Cooper.
Last month, a Public Policy Polling survey found Cooper to have a 4-point lead on Forest and a poll by Civitas, a conservative think tank, found Forest trailing Cooper by 10 points.
"We welcome Holly Grange to the race," Forest said in a statement. "There are no political coronations in America, and everyone must earn their way. Primaries tend to make everyone stronger, so this will only help us prepare for the race with Governor Cooper."
Grange's potential candidacy was rumored for months -- and even led to some sniping among members of the North Carolina delegation in Congress. U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, who represents western North Carolina and supports Forest, said Sen. Thom Tillis was encouraging Grange to run against Forest. "What will do more damage to Sen. Tillis is his encouragement of trying to get someone to run against Dan Forest and his active involvement, or his so-called active involvement, in that," Meadows said. "That will do more to create concern among Republican primary voters than perhaps any race right now." Tillis, who is up for re-election in 2020, said he was not involved in other races. "I haven't gotten into that race, probably won't," Tillis said. "I've got my own primary. There's a lot of people saying that I'm recruiting other people, which is a silly concept when I'm going to have one of the most expensive races in U.S. history just for my own re-election."