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NC Chamber says, ‘Primary results warn of threats to NC business climate’

In its “Chamber Updates” on March 6, 2024, the NC Chamber said, “Even with our foreshadowing, Tuesday’s primary election results were a startling warning of the looming threats to North Carolina’s business climate.”

CNBC has ranked North Carolina #1 in business for two years in a row. In 2022, it noted that the ranking was awarded because “political leaders in the Tar Heel State keep managing to put partisanship aside to build the nation’s strongest economy.” In 2023, CNBC cautioned the state “of growing political divisions that threaten its rankings in education and quality of life.”

“[M]any of the races we were watching turned for candidates that do not share our vision for North Carolina.”

— NC Chamber

“Particularly in Republican races,” the NC Chamber update said, “populist candidates enjoyed great success. In many instances, previously unknown candidates defeated sitting legislators and elected officials with stronger qualifications, pristine voting records, and significantly more funding.”

The Superintendent of Public Instruction election in 2024

“A defining example is the Republican primary for State Superintendent of Public Instruction,” said the NC Chamber update. “Catherine Truitt has done an exemplary job in the role, and we have worked with her on many different efforts to improve education in North Carolina and develop students into a world-class workforce.”

One of the NC Chamber’s core business issues is education and workforce development, including an annual education and workforce conference each August where they convene key stakeholders in the education, business, government, and nonprofit sectors.

Truitt attends the conferences, and during her tenure as superintendent has worked with the NC Chamber to better link the workforce and K-12 and roll out a new toolkit for businesses to partner with public schools across North Carolina.

“Truitt outspent her opponent 8:1 and ran a strong campaign,” said the NC Chamber update. “By 4%, she was defeated by Michele Morrow, a former nurse and homeschool mother. Morrow painted Truitt as a moderate and RINO (Republican in Name Only). She has never taught in a public school or been employed as a faculty member. Her previous political experience is an unsuccessful run for the Wake County school board in 2022.”

Politics through a business lens

The update says, “the populist wing of the Republican party is gaining strength. Their coalition isn’t necessarily one centered around ideology, but frustration and anger with the status quo. These sentiments mirror the political climate on the national stage.”

The NC Chamber says it works with and depends on the N.C. Department of Public Instruction “to preserve our business climate and manage the state’s public education and talent supply.”

The update says Morrow has “a strong chance of holding public office” and will likely further politicize an office that is “by design, nonpartisan.”

“The quiet, bipartisan work necessary to move our state forward”

In August 2023, Gary Salamido, president and CEO of the Chamber, closed the NC Chamber education and workforce convening of nearly 400 stakeholders with his definition of success — in our schools, in our businesses, in our communities, in our state agencies, and as a state.

“At the end of the day, it’s about culture,” Salamido said. “Are we being collaboratively a carrier of a culture that gives our citizens wherever they are in their life the best opportunity to succeed and live, work, and raise their family and have success? And are we really building communities, giving communities the resources at every dimension that they need to be healthy?”

After the primary elections on March 5, 2024, the NC Chamber update said, “When both parties move to the opposite ends of the political spectrum, it erodes the quiet, bipartisan work necessary to move our state forward.”

“Moderating voices in each caucus will be replaced with partisan ideologues that cause division and create controversy,” said the update. “This not only creates a more volatile environment for our state, but also makes it more difficult for complex, challenging issues to be resolved.”

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.