Originally in the Charlotte Observer
By Colin Campbell, August 1, 2015

Races for attorney general and lieutenant governor are expected to be closely contested next year, and early fundraising numbers reflect it.

While attention is focused on the governor’s race, candidates for the other prominent statewide offices are already posting six-figure fundraising numbers.

State Sen. Josh Stein, a Raleigh Democrat and likely candidate for attorney general, has raised the most, with $364,859 in the first six months of 2015 for a total of $1.11 million on hand.

That puts him close to incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who raised $363,494 in the same period and has $247,632 on hand.

Both are well ahead of their opponents: Democrat Linda Coleman, who’s making her second bid against Forest, and Republican Sen. Buck Newton, who joined the attorney general’s race in early June.

Meanwhile, Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson is the only Council of State incumbent so far whose report shows no money raised in 2015. The Democrat has just $9,448 on hand – fueling speculation she might not seek a fourth term.

Atkinson recently said she hasn’t decided yet if she’ll run again.

Attorney general

Stein’s heavy fundraising comes despite the fact that he isn’t an official candidate yet.

“I am strongly considering running for attorney general so I can apply my eight years of experience as senior deputy attorney general to protect and serve the people of North Carolina,” Stein said Friday.

He added that he’ll announce his decision “in the coming weeks and months,” with the timing “dependent on the session” at the legislature.

Stein’s fundraising far exceeds that of his fellow Senate Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue of Raleigh raised just $7,255 during the reporting period.

Stein’s top donors – 30 people who made the maximum contribution of $5,100 – include seven CEOs of local companies. Among them are Jim Goodmon of Capitol Broadcasting, Robert Page of Replacements Inc., and Todd McGowan of Haddock Collision.

Newton, who’s the only official candidate for attorney general, has raised about $200,000 in June after his announcement, campaign manager Doug Raymond said. He raised no money prior to June.

“Buck really did not make a decision with his family until shortly before he announced,” Raymond said. “That literally represents a month of fundraising. Our goal was $200,000 cash on hand.”