RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With several key statewide races on the ballot in 2024, some candidates already have launched their campaigns more than a year before the primary election will be held.

David McLennan, an expert on state politics at Meredith College, described it as the “perpetual campaign season.” 

“We used to call these shadow campaigns. People would campaign without filing or declaring their candidacy and do all the things that candidates would normally do. Now, we’re just having people declare their intentions much earlier,” he said.  

He said while the average voter likely won’t start seriously looking at candidates for at least a year, candidates are using the time to try to build name recognition among local party officials and raise the money necessary to compete in increasingly costly races.  

“We’re just seeing every election cycle get more and more expensive. Statewide elections are extremely expensive not just in terms of doing the normal things like TV advertising, but even just simply the expenses associated with traveling across a very large state,” McLennan said. “And, I think that’s becoming increasingly important for even races like commissioner of labor or lieutenant governor.” 

Republican Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson announced earlier this month he won’t seek re-election, saying he wanted to give potential candidates enough notice that they could prepare to run. 

This week, state Rep. Ben Moss (R-66th District) announced his campaign for labor commissioner in a tweet.  

State Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) also told WGHP that he’s “leaning towards running.”  

He added that “at this time I am seeking input from family, friends and people across North Carolina.”

The race for lieutenant governor is also drawing interest, with state Rep. Raymond Smith (D-Wayne) and former Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey, a Democrat, saying they plan to run. 

Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is widely expected to run for governor in 2024 but has not formally announced his plans. 

“I think for statewide offices, it probably makes more sense,” said McLennan. “I think by this time next year we may see a half dozen people in both parties running for those two seats.”

When the General Assembly reconvenes next year, one of the key issues on their agenda is redraw the  electoral districts for the state legislature and North Carolina’s 14 congressional seats, which could shake up people’s plans regarding what office they choose to seek.  

Republican legislative leaders say they don’t plan to begin work on the new district maps until the summer, as they await a key U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case that began in North Carolina regarding gerrymandering.