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Thomas drops out of governor’s race to run for secretary of state

Former healthcare executive Jesse Thomas has announced that he is dropping out of the GOP primary race for governor in order to run for North Carolina’s secretary of state. In that primary he would face former chair of the Wake County GOP, Darren Eustance, who announced his plan to seek the nomination in May.

Democrat Elaine Marshall is the current secretary of state and has held this position since first being elected in 1996. She’s been re-elected seven times. Most recently she beat Republican E.C. Sykes in 2020 with 51.2% of the vote. Thomas said her 28 years in office indicates a need for term limits.

“Secretary Elaine Marshall has been in office since the Clinton administration,” said Thomas, in a news release on Wednesday. “On her watch, the office has devolved from serving as the Chief Economy & Business Officer of the state to serving as the ‘Notary in Chief.’ As Secretary of State I will advance our business systems to the cutting edge of modernization, actively focus on economic development by seeking out companies within North Carolina to expand and persuading other businesses to relocate to the Tarheel state.”


Retired CEO of the Medicaid Segment of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Thomas announced his plan to run for governor in August. He is the second Republican primary candidate to drop of the race.

Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker announced last week that he will instead seek to re-claim North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District 6, a seat he held from 2015 to 2021. In the new congressional maps, CD6 moved from a Democrat-leaning district, held by Rep. Kathy Manning, to Republican-leaning.

Remaining in the GOP primary race are frontrunner Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson; state Treasurer Dale Folwell; former state Sen. Andy Wells; and, recent addition, Salisbury attorney Bill Graham.

“I bill myself as a citizen public servant,” Thomas told Carolina Journal in a recent telephone interview.

Thomas said he was running because he felt the Republican Party has strayed from its core values and was in need of a “reset.” His platform included eliminating the state income tax rate, an education system that focuses on workforce readiness, and increased focus on mental health.

“I will aggressively advocate to the General Assembly to enact term limits for this critical Constitutional office and eliminate the State Income Tax, starting immediately with our senior citizens, teachers, and active duty military,” Thomas said in his announcement Wednesday.


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