GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Rep. Mark Walker has set the time and place for an announcement on Saturday about his plans to perhaps seek the Republican nomination for governor of North Carolina.
Walker, who said late last month that he was “prayerfully listening” whether to enter the race, will meet with “numerous friends, family, and supporters for the announcement” at 10 a.m. at Triad Baptist Christian Academy in Kernersville.
Walker is a resident of Greensboro who served three terms in Congress representing the 6th Congressional District, and he is being advised by Tim Murtaugh, vice president for National Public Affairs who has worked with national campaigns.
“Congressman Mark Walker will be announcing his plans for the 2024 governor’s race in North Carolina and is looking forward to seeing hundreds of friends and supporters as this important election approaches next year,” Murtaugh said in an email last week. “He and his wife, Kelly, have heard from pastors, officials, and groups across North Carolina, all encouraging him to run, and have been discussing it and praying about it with their close friends and family.
“Because Democrats will be putting everything they have into the coming race, it’s essential that Republicans nominate a candidate who can withstand the scrutiny of a gubernatorial election. Mark looks forward to sharing his decision with the voters on May 20th.”
Murtaugh, whose firm includes Bill Stepien, former President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, had said last month that his firm is “only advising Walker, not running his campaign,” and that Walker has not built a website or started to raise money.
There was some question about whether Walker might reconsider the governor’s race after the NC Supreme Court handed Republicans in the General Assembly a virtually unchecked opportunity to redraw congressional districts for the 2024 race, but he has not responded to questions about that.
If he joins the race, Walker would be facing two other men with roots in Greensboro: State Treasurer Dale Folwell, a native of Winston-Salem and graduate of UNC-Greensboro, and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a native of Greensboro.
Attorney General Josh Stein is the only announced Democrat in the field, and Libertarian candidate Mike Ross is running as well. Gov. Roy Cooper is term-limited.
Walker and Robinson have known each other since 2018, when Robinson emerged from political obscurity, but that changed after Walker sought the nomination for the U.S. Senate last year. Robinson endorsed Rep. Ted Budd in that race.
“Anytime you have somebody who’s promoting you as the best candidate for the U.S. Senate and does a 180-degree [turn], it does impact the relationship,” Walker told WRAL last fall. “I don’t hold grudges. We were talking on a weekly basis. That doesn’t exist anymore.”
Walker, a former minister at Lawndale Baptist Church, represented the 6th Congressional district in 2014-2020 for three terms before deciding not to run in 2020 in a newly drawn district, and he was one of the 14 people in the GOP field to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Burr last year. Walker finished third behind Budd, the candidate Trump endorsed, and former Gov. Pat McCrory. Budd won the Senate seat.
Kyle Van Zandt, who managed Walker’s defeat of Phil Berger Jr. to earn the House seat in 2014, said as much to The Assembly. “There’s a lot of doubt that Robinson can deliver a win in the general election,” Van Zandt said. “A lot of people are looking for other viable candidates for this. Walker has a proven track record of standing firm in his principles and not alienating people who may not agree with him.”