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Republicans take aim at Robinson for past remarks about Jews


With just over six weeks to go before the 2024 March 5th gubernatorial primaries (three weeks before Feb. 15th early voting), leading Republican candidate Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson finds himself the target of intensified attacks from other GOP candidates, hoping to knock him off his leader’s ledge in the race to win the nomination.

Robinson, considered an outspoken MAGA culture warrior, is facing two other major opponents for the N.C. Republican Party gubernatorial nomination - state Treasurer Dale Folwell and wealthy conservative attorney Bill Graham of Salisbury.

According to the latest polls, neither Folwell nor Graham are garnering anywhere near Robinson’s commanding double-digit lead. Neither has matched Robinson in terms of campaign rhetoric or controversy.

According to Public Policy Polling (PPP) as of earlier this month, Robinson, with 55 percent, had a commanding 40-point lead over his closest competitor Bill Graham (15 percent) with registered Republican primary voters.

However that same poll showed 24 percent of Republican primary voters undecided.

But while Folwell (7 percent) has issued statements questioning the lieutenant governor’s fitness for office because of his relative lack of political experience and divisive remarks about people he doesn’t like (“he’s attacking people instead of attacking the important problems that our citizens are facing”) Graham, a conservative former prosecutor who was recently endorsed by Republican U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, has gone a step further.

Last week, Graham’s campaign began running a tough attack ad against Robinson about negative remarks he’s made about Jewish people in the past.

In the ad, Graham’s campaign calls Robinson an “antisemite,” and further charges that the lt. governor “is aligning himself with Hamas,” the terrorist group responsible for the deadly Oct. 7th attack in Israel last year.

Despite his past negative remarks about Jews, Robinson recently tried to portray himself as a friend of Israel, even taking a trip there last fall.

“Bill Graham is regurgitating the same dishonest lies the Democrats use because the Republican primary is over and he can’t handle it,” Robinson campaign spokesman Bill Lonergan, told Raleigh TV station CBS17. “Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson stands with Israel and the Jewish people – and he’s never questioned the Holocaust.”

That same PPP poll asked “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Mark Robinson?” Favorable of Robinson was 53 percent; unfavorable 11 percent.

Graham is seeking to drive Robinson’s negative numbers up, and hopefully, do so in a manner to attract many of the undecided Republicans who have not made a decision as to which Republican they will support yet.

According to the political newsletter “Politics NC,” Graham has told reporters, “If this guy is nominated by the Republican Party, I will guarantee a loss and (Democrat) Josh Stein will be the governor for the next four years.”

PPP also shows Republican former President Donald Trump with a 66 percent lead in North Carolina over Republican primary rivals Nikki Haley (12 percent) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (9 percent). DeSantis suspended his campaign for president Sunday right before the New Hampshire primary.

There is little question that Robinson is benefiting from his close association with Trump. PPP showed that 43 percent of those polled are “more likely” to vote for a candidate that he endorsed. The MAGA former president not only has endorsed the black Republican’s campaign for governor, but recently said that Robinson speaks even better that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

And what would happen if Mark Robinson were to face Democratic frontrunner Josh Stein, the current N.C. State attorney general in November? According to the most recent East Carolina University Research Center polling from November, Robinson would win 44 percent to 40 percent, with 16 percent undecided.

Bill Graham, with his television campaign blitz against Robinson, is hoping to topple Robinson’s substantial lead now, and fast, so that he can face the Democratic gubernatorial winner in November. However, the same ECU poll shows that when matched up with Stein, if he’s that Democrat, Graham loses 42 percent to 39 percent.

In unrelated 2024 electoral news, a federal judge ruled earlier this week that several changes to 2024 election laws made by the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly are likely unconstitutional and will be blocked from going into effect.

Those changes, now void, would affect same day registration with early voting.

Republican legislative leaders plan to appeal the ruling.