Forest calls contest with Cooper ‘No. 1 governor race in the country’

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The latest updates in North Carolina’s gubernatorial primary elections. As part of our political pledge to viewers, CBS 17 News is reporting facts and outcomes so our community can make sound choices.

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11:05 p.m.

Hours after the results came in from North Carolina’s primary, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is going after his Republican opponent for his ties to a political donor facing a federal trial in Charlotte.

Cooper won his party’s nomination to seek a second term as governor and will face off against current Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) in November. Both candidates won their primaries by wide margins.

Cooper’s campaign released a digital ad they plan to start running this week highlighting donations Forest received from Greg Lindberg, who is accused of trying to bribe the state’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey (R). Causey reported the matter to the FBI and cooperated with federal agents in their investigation.

Lindberg donated $2.4 million to groups backing Forest.

Forest has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Lindberg and two associates, John Gray and John Palermo, have pleaded not guilty. Their trial began in February.

In an email, Cooper spokesperson Liz Doherty said, “Dan Forest’s close ties to Greg Lindberg will continue to be a problem for him in the general election. He continues to try to hide the ball on his role in the state’s biggest political bribery scandal. North Carolina voters want to know: what else is Dan Forest hiding?”

Forest’s campaign declined to comment Tuesday night.

“You guys are like a dog with a dirty sock on this issue,” said Forest, when asked about the matter last week. “You’ve been hounding this too long. Nothing has gone on there. We’re not even part of this investigation. But, obviously, we have a primary and my opponent wants to try to make a deal out of something that doesn’t even exist.”

Forest’s opponent in the Republican gubernatorial primary, state Rep. Holly Grange, called on Forest to return the money, saying it would continue to be an issue in the general election.

“$2.4 million is a lot of money. Dan Forest received more money than any other political candidate or political group,” she told CBS17.

Reported by Michael Hyland

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10:35 p.m.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest expects a lot of political attention on North Carolina in 2020.

During his victory speech, he called his upcoming contest with Gov. Roy Cooper “the No. 1 governor race in the country.”

Forest and Cooper were declared the winners of their respective gubernatorial primaries Tuesday night when The Associated Press called their races with each receiving more than 87 percent of the votes.

Forest says he wants to run “a positive campaign about what is best for the people of North Carolina.”

Liz Doherty, a spokeswoman for Cooper’s campaign, told CBS 17 News that the governor “has put North Carolina first always.”

8:40 p.m.

The Associated Press is calling the North Carolina gubernatorial primaries for incumbent Roy Cooper and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

With 160 of the state’s 2,670 precincts reporting early Tuesday evening, Cooper had nearly 90 percent of the votes in the Democratic primary while Forest had 89 percent in the GOP race.

Cooper faced challenger Ernest Reeves in the Democratic race while Forest went up against state Rep. Holly Grange, R-New Hanover.

Cooper, the former state attorney general first elected four years ago, is seeking a second term as governor. Forest is completing his second term as lieutenant governor, and term limits in the state prohibit him from running again.

Both Cooper and Forest were overwhelming picks in their respective parties according to a Meredith College poll last week.

10 a.m.

North Carolina voters are picking their nominees for the governor’s race in November.

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is facing challenger Ernest Reeves in one primary. Among Republicans, current Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is up against state Rep. Holly Grange, R-New Hanover.

A recent Meredith College poll of North Carolina voters showed Forest and Cooper leading their respective primary races. 

Forest was the choice of more than 53 percent of respondents to 9.6 percent for Grange and more than 36 percent undecided or without a preference.

The poll showed Cooper at 65.3 percent of Democratic votes to 5.1 percent for Reeves with nearly 28 percent either undecided or without a preference.

The Meredith poll also showed nearly 70 percent of Democratic voters approve of the way Cooper is doing his job with a 51.5 percent disapproval rating among Republicans.

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This story will be updated throughout the night as results are tabulated.

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