RALEIGH, N.C. — The race for North Carolina Attorney General is too close to call.
Democratic incumbent Josh Stein has 50% of the votes, but so does Republican Jim O'Neill.
O'Neill is trailing Stein by only 10,000 votes. North Carolina still has 117,000 outstanding absentee ballots that need to be counted.
O'Neill has served as the Forsyth County District Attorney since 2009, and this is not his first time running for attorney general. He lost the Republican primary in 2016.
About the race
North Carolina’s attorney general race features incumbent Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein and Republican challenger Jim O’Neill.
The attorney general is North Carolina’s lawyer for the state, providing legal representation to all government department agencies and commissions. The General Assembly, governor or any other public official can receive legal opinions from the attorney general, per request.
The attorney general can take legal action or intervene in proceedings on behalf of North Carolina’s agencies or citizens in any other state or federal court, regulatory officers or agencies.
The state attorney general also handles all criminal appeals from state trial courts.
Stein has been North Carolina’s attorney general since 2017.
About Josh Stein (D)
Before being elected attorney general, Stein served as a North Carolina senator between 2009 and 2016. Between 2001 and 2008, Stein was North Carolina’s Senior Deputy Attorney General for Consumer Protection. After college, he taught English and economics in Zimbabwe before working as a lawyer. Stein graduated from Dartmouth College in 1988. He has also earned degrees from Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School with focuses in policy.
Stein’s issues to prioritize, if elected, according to his campaign website:
· Address the state’s rape kit backlog and related issues
· Promote public safety
· Protect seniors and consumers
· Preserve clean air and water
· Promote public health
In the run up to Tuesday’s election, both Democratic and Republican lawyers have gone to court over issues with mail-in and absentee ballots problems. Signature matches, late-arriving absentee votes, drop boxes and secrecy envelopes have all had their share of issues during an election season when mail-in voting is likely to be heavily relied upon given how COVID-19 has reshaped ballot-casting logistics.
Stein filed a lawsuit against the United States Postmaster General in August ahead of the 2020 election. At the time, Stein decried the USPS’s changes making for slower delivery times, which bore issues during early voting in North Carolina.
“It is a lifeline for rural North Carolina. It is critical for small businesses. It's how veterans get their medicine. In a pandemic, it's a way for our voice to be heard in our democracy through their vote,” Stein said.
About Jim O’Neill (R)
Republican challenger Jim O’Neill has spent the last decade as Forsyth County’s district attorney, serving three terms since 2009. Prior to holding the DA position, he served as a prosecutor for 13 years. He also is the Vice President of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys. O’Neill graduated from Duke University in 1988. After graduation, he earned his law degree from New York University Law School.
O’Neill’s issues to prioritize, if elected, according to his campaign website:
· Dedication to domestic violence prosecution
· Sex offender prosecution
· Prosecuting violent criminal offenders and those who abuse and take advantage of the elderly
· North Carolina’s opioid crisis
Jim O’Neill previously ran in the attorney general race in 2016, but lost.
During his campaign, he has been vocal on issues that intersect immigration and local law enforcement.
"Every day I work with our ICE agents. Our corporation with ICE and local law enforcement is one of the reasons Winston-Salem was recently named the safest city in NC. As AG, I would make sure North Carolina isn't a place where sanctuary cities are allowed to grow," he wrote on Twitter.