RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) is expected to formally announce his campaign for governor on Saturday.  

While polling indicates he’s an early favorite to win his party’s nomination, he’ll face challenges from at least two other Republicans. 

Robinson has teased Saturday’s announcement for weeks, as he urged supporters to join him Saturday at Ace Speedway in Alamance County “when history is made.” 

Republican Treasurer Dale Folwell already has announced a bid for governor, and an advisor to former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker says he’ll enter the race in the coming weeks. 

“It’s a herculean task,” said David McLennan, an expert on state politics at Meredith College. “With (Robinson’s) name recognition, he seems to have the support of former President Trump who is still important in this state. And, many other Republicans in North Carolina seem to be supporting Mark Robinson.” 

A poll in December by the Republican political firm, the Differentiators, found a majority of GOP primary voters chose Robinson over any other option presented to them in the poll. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they have a favorable view of him compared to 8 percent who view him unfavorably. 

Against Folwell, 60 percent of voters chose Robinson compared to 6 percent for Folwell. In another hypothetical matchup against Walker, Robinson got 58 percent compared to Walker’s 8 percent.  

“From the age of 10, I’ve been breaking a sweat, both to get myself out of my economic situation and as a public servant to protect and work on saving lives, minds and money,” said Folwell this week when asked about Robinson’s expected announcement. “When you’ve been breaking a sweat all your life, you obviously know where people sweat and you know why they sweat. That’s my track record of attacking problems, not attacking people.” 

Robinson has highlighted the historic nature of his win in 2020 when he became the first Black lieutenant governor in North Carolina. If elected in 2024, he would be the first Black governor in state history. 

He’s spent much of his time in office traveling the state and building support for his likely gubernatorial bid. He even said in 2021 he was “95 percent sure” he’d run for governor in 2024. He also released a book last year called “We Are the Majority” about his life and outlining some of his political positions. 

“He’s been working hard at it, but he’s good,” said McLennan. “He really is talented as a campaigner.” 

Robinson has also been at the center of controversy repeatedly during his time in office, as videos of his appearances at churches have gone viral where he’s made disparaging comments about the LGBTQ community. He described homosexuality as “filth” and has said the transgender movement is “dragging our kids down into the pit of hell.” 

McLennan said, “Even though he might try to downplay controversial statements and try to come across as more measured, I’m not sure that’s an avenue that’s really open to him at this time.” 

Robinson’s successful bid for lieutenant governor in 2020 was his first run for public office. He rose to prominence a few years earlier when he gained national attention for comments he made supporting 2nd Amendment rights at a Greensboro City Council meeting. 

Current Gov. Roy Cooper (D) cannot run for a third term.  

“His campaign is all about igniting right-wing culture wars that we have seen hurt people and our economy. He’s wrong for North Carolina,” Cooper said Friday. 

On the Democratic side, Attorney General Josh Stein is the only candidate to announce a run so far. In a video he released in January when he launched his campaign, he went after Robinson for his positions on issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights. 

“If this were a matchup between Robinson and Cooper, you’d say this looks good for the Democrats. But, it’s not that matchup,” said McLennan. “I think we could see historic records in terms of fundraising, in terms of advertising.”