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Today’s 2020 Candidate Announcements

Note: Each day, the High Country Press will share emails and announcements from candidates that are entering their names into the 2020 primary and general election. Today we received the following announcements from Governor Roy Cooper seeking re-election, Jenna Wadsworth running for NC Commissioner of Agriculture, Ray Pickett running for NC House and Deanna Ballard seeking re-election for NC Senate.

Governor Roy Cooper Files for Re-Election

After Governor Roy Cooper filed his notice of candidacy and made official his 2020 re-election campaign, he issued the following statement:

“As Governor, my team and I have fought tooth and nail for better pay for teachers and other educators instead of sweeping corporate tax cuts. We’ve engineered overwhelming success in recruiting jobs and growing businesses. I’ve vetoed bad Republican budgets that valued corporate tax cuts over investments in education, clean water and better health care and I’ve vetoed extreme right-wing social legislation that’s wrong for our people and our economy. We’ve worked hard and gotten results, but there’s more to do. I’m asking the people for a second term to complete our mission of a better educated, healthier and more prosperous North Carolina.”

Roy Cooper for North Carolina is outlining some of the meaningful ways in which the Cooper Administration has moved the ball forward in NC:


  • Governor Cooper has recruited and announced tens of thousands of new jobs across North Carolina. A large number of these projects are located in rural and economically-distressed counties.

  • Governor Cooper remains committed to helping every North Carolinian find a good-paying job and has created initiatives such as NC Job Ready, Finish Line Grants, and Hometown Strong. That’s why Forbes ranked North Carolina the #1 Best State for Business in 2018.

  • Governor Cooper worked with members of both parties to repeal HB2 to fight discrimination and repair the damage to North Carolina’s economy and reputation. His leadership put North Carolina back on a path to success and opened the door for thousands of new jobs and the return of concerts, shows, and major athletic events such as the NBA All-Star Game

  • Governor Cooper has demonstrated his commitment to supporting North Carolina’s workforce and ensuring equal opportunity for all. Cooper has issued Executive Orders to prohibit workplace discrimination and extend workplace protections for state employees.

  • Governor Cooper signed an Executive Order to establish paid parental leave for 56,000 state employees because no one should have to choose between their career and their child. Now our universities, community colleges and other independent agencies have followed his lead.

  • Governor Cooper launched a Clean Energy Plan to create good-paying jobs, increase the use of renewable energy, and fight climate change.


  • Governor Cooper has fought hard for our teachers and has pushed the Republican legislature to go much further than it wanted to go resulting in a 9.5% teacher raise since he took office and an improvement in the national rankings. He knows that we need to do much more to make sure we attract and retain the best teachers. 

  • Governor Cooper has fought for investments in early childhood education by expanding pre-kindergarten programs. Today, thousands of additional children are able to attend pre-k for the first time.

  • Governor Cooper fought to re-establish the Teaching Fellows Program to recruit and support highly qualified teachers in North Carolina.

  • Governor Cooper has fought for a school construction bond to invest in repairs and construction for aging schools across the state without cutting resources from other vital programs and services.


  • Governor Cooper has worked across party lines to combat the opioid crisis in North Carolina. Cooper launched the state’s first Opioid Action Plan in 2017 and, as a result, opioid prescriptions have dropped by 24 percent, emergency room visits for opioid misuse have declined by 10 percent, and opioid-related deaths have decreased by 5 percent. Cooper also serves on President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

  • Governor Cooper has fought for Medicaid expansion that would extend coverage to half a million people, including families and veterans, without additional state tax dollars. Medicaid expansion would bring tens of thousands of jobs to North Carolina, reduce the cost of private health insurance and keep rural hospitals open.

  • Governor Cooper has been a champion for choice throughout his career and also fought against abortion restrictions as Attorney General and as a State Senator. He vetoed a measure that would have criminalized doctors and interfered between women and their doctors.


  • Governor Cooper issued an Executive Order to make North Carolina the first state in the south to ban state funding to any organization that engages in conversion therapy, a scientifically dubious and dangerous practice that is harmful to the LGBTQ community.

  • Governor Cooper has led our state through devastating hurricanes and floods, saving lives and helping to invest more than $3.2 billion in recovery to rebuild our state stronger and smarter.

  • Governor Cooper has built the most diverse and qualified cabinet in the history of North Carolina.

  • Governor Cooper’s administration launched an Early Childhood Action Plan because he understands the importance of building the foundation for future learning, health and well-being during early childhood. As a result, North Carolina’s infant mortality rate has fallen to its lowest rate in 31 years.

Wake County Soil & Water Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Jenna Wadsworth Files to Run for NC Commissioner of Agriculture, Announces List of Endorsements

Nine years after making history as the youngest woman ever elected to political office in North Carolina, Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District Vice-Chair Jenna Wadsworth has filed to run statewide for North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture. As a Supervisor, Wadsworth supported farmland preservation work—especially with mounting development pressures—and co-authored the county’s agribusiness and economic development plan which helped producers get their products to market. Wadsworth says she is running for this new office with “a forward-thinking vision for our future.”

Wadsworth grew up on a dirt road on her family farm in Johnston County where they raised hogs, cows, and chickens and they grew corn, cotton, tobacco, and soybeans. She is a graduate of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham and NC State University.

“Farmers are facing an increasing number of farm bankruptcies and rising suicide rates, storms are getting worse and more frequent, there is increased unpredictability on the federal level when it comes to commodity pricing and tariffs, and, as always, there is a low profit margin which makes a drought or poor crop yield all the more dangerous to ensure long term success. We are an industry standing on the precipice of the future. The issues of today require us to address them with an absolute sense of urgency and an innovative vision for our future. It is imperative that we elect a Commissioner who does not equivocate on climate change. We have to look to new markets and opportunities for our farmers such as hemp, cannabis, and plant-based products.” Wadsworth said.

In addition to the issues above, Wadsworth is committed to bridging the growing urban-rural divide in our state. She will champion rural communities by prioritizing universal broadband access that allows all North Carolinians to be competitive in the global marketplace and she will advocate for reinvestment in rural health.

A coalition of over 50 current and former elected officials representing areas from across North Carolina have endorsed Wadsworth in her race. Notable endorsers include the last Democratic Commissioner of Agriculture Britt Cobb, along with former Court of Appeals Judge Linda Stephens, the entire Forsyth County Democratic General Assembly delegation, Reps. Zack Hawkins, Joe Sam Queen, Susan Fisher, Cecil Brockman, Pricey Harrison, Christy Clark, Wesley Harris, Raymond Smith, Marcia Morey, Jean Farmer-Butterfield, and John Ager, as well as NC Senators Jeff Jackson, Mike Woodard, and Wiley Nickel, and Chair of the Wake County Commission Greg Ford also feature on the list. The North Carolina AFL-CIO has also endorsed Wadsworth.

Earlier this year, Wadsworth announced her intentions to run while in Greenville to an enthusiastic crowd of supporters. Since then, she has traveled the state meeting farmers, members of the agribusiness community, and everyday voters in their communities. Earlier this week, Wadsworth addressed a crowd of 1,200 at the NC Farm Bureau Convention in Greensboro.

Ray Pickett Announces Candidacy for NC House to Serve Ashe and Watauga

Republican Ray Pickett, a long-term resident of the High Country, filed for election to represent Ashe and Watauga in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Pickett, who resides in Blowing Rock, is a former Town Council member of the Blowing Rock Town Council.

Ray Pickett has also served on the Blowing Rock Planning Board, President of the Rotary Club of Blowing Rock, and the Blowing Rock Historical Society. He currently serves on the board of the Hunger & Health Coalition based in Boone.

In announcing his candidacy, Pickett stated: “The High Country needs responsive and responsible representation in the NC House, which has been missing for the last two years. We need a representative who can be effective in Raleigh and represents our values.

The High Country needs someone who is looking out for us, and not the liberal inside the beltway agenda. Ray Russell’s opposition to the “Born Alive” bill is inexcusable, and we must protect the lives of our most vulnerable children.

Ray Russell’s opposition to the State Budget has resulted in our hardworking teachers not getting a much deserved 4% pay raise, and makes for the first year in the last five consecutive years teacher pay has not increased.

Ray Russell’s opposition to the State Budget has also prevented our University employees from receiving their raise, and has caused Appalachian State to miss out on $25,000,000 in desperately needed renovations to Wey Hall.

Ray Pickett and his wife Melissa have owned and operated the Blowing Rock Inn for almost twenty years.

Deanna Ballard Seeking Re-Election to NC Senate 

“Today, I filed to run for re-election to the NC Senate. Serving is a privilege, a challenge, and an honor — daring to come face-to-face with the needs of our families and communities and asking how I can help continues to be the heartbeat of who I am.  I humbly ask for your prayers and support in the days ahead.”

Watauga County Board of Elections 2020 Candidate List

*As of December 11

United States President (Constitution Party)

Don Blankenship

Charles Kraut

United States President (Democrat Party)

Michael Bennet

Joseph R. Biden

Michael R. Bloomberg

Cory Booker

Pete Buttigieg

Julian Castro

John K. Delaney

Tulsi Gabbard

Amy Klobuchar

Deval Patrick

Bernie Sanders

Tom Steyer

Elizabeth Warren

Marianne Williamson

Andrew Yang

United States President (Green Party)

Howie Hawkins

United States President (Libertarian Party)

Max Abramson

Ken Armstrong

Dan Behrman

Kenneth Blevins

Souraya Faas

Erik Gerhardt

Jedidiah Hill

Jacob Hornberger

Jo Jorgensen

Adam Kokesh

John McAfee

James Orlando Ogle

Steve Richey

Kim Ruff

Vermin Supreme

Arvin Vohra

United States President (Republican Party)

Donald J. Trump

United State Senate (Democrat Party)

Trevor M. Fuller

Steve Swenson

Cal Cunningham

Atul Goel

Erica D. Smith

United States Senate (Republican Party)

Thom Tillis

United States House of Representatives District 05 (Republican Party)

Virginia Foxx

North Carolina Governor (Democrat Party)

Roy Cooper

North Carolina Governor (Republican Party)

Holly Grange

Dan Forest

North Carolina Lieutenant Governor (Democrat Party)

Bill Toole

Terry Van Duyn

Yvonne Lewis Holley

Chaz Beasley

Allen Thomas

Ron Newton

North Carolina Lieutenant Governor (Republican Party)

Mark Robinson

Deborah Cochran

Andy Wells

Greg Gebhardt

Renee Ellmers

North Carolina Attorney General (Democrat Party)

Josh Stein

North Carolina Attorney General (Republican Party)

Jim O’Neill

North Carolina Auditor (Democrat Party)

Beth A. Wood

North Carolina Auditor (Republican Party)

Anthony Wayne (Tony) Street

Tim Hoegemeyer

North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture (Democrat Party)

Donovan Alexander Watson

Jenna Wadsworth

North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture (Republican Party)

Steve Troxler

North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance (Republican Party)

Mike Causey 

Ronald Pierce

North Carolina Commissioner of Labor (Democrat Party)

Jessica Holmes

North Carolina Commissioner of Labor (Republican Party)

Pearl Burris Floyd

Josh Dobson

Chuck Stanley

North Carolina Secretary of State (Democrat Party)

Elaine Marshall

North Carolina Secretary of State (Republican Party)

Chad Brown

E.C. Sykes

Michael LaPaglia

North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction (Democrat Party)

James Barrett

Constance (Lav) Johnson

Jen Mangrum

Michael Maher

North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction (Republican Party)

Craig Horn

North Carolina Treasurer (Democrat Party)

Matt Leatherman

Ronnie Chatterji

North Carolina Treasurer (Republican Party)

Dale R. Folwell

NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Seat 01 (Democrat Party)

Cheri Beasley 

NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Seat 01 (Republican Party)

Paul Newby

NC Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 02 (Democrat Party)

Lucy Inman

NC Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 02 (Republican Party)

Phil Berger Jr.

NC Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 04 (Democrat Party)

Mark Davis

NC Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 04 (Republican Party)

Tamara Barringer 

NC Court of Appeals Judge Seat 04 (Democrat Party)

Tricia Shields

NC Court of Appeals Judge Seat 04 (Republican Party)

April C. Wood

NC Court of Appeals Judge Seat 05 (Democrat Party)

Lora Christine Cubbage

NC Court of Appeals Judge Seat 05 (Republican Party)

Fred Gore

NC Court of Appeals Judge Seat 06 (Democrat Party)

Gray Styers 

NC Court of Appeals Judge Seat 06 (Republican Party)

Chris Dillon

NC Court of Appeals Judge Seat 07 (Democrat Party)

Reuben F. Young

NC Court of Appeals Judge Seat 07 (Republican Party)

Jeff Carpenter

NC Court of Appeals Judge Seat 13 (Democrat Party)

Chris Brook

NC Court of Appeals Judge Seat 13 (Republican Party)

Jefferson G. Griffin

NC State Senate District 45 (Democrat Party)

Jeanne Supin

NC State Senate District 45 (Republican Party)

Deanna Ballard

NC House of Representatives District 93 (Democrat Party)

Ray Russell

NC House of Representatives District 93 (Republican Party)

Ray Pickett

NC District Court Judge District 24 Seat 02 (Republican Party)

Rebecca Eggers-Gryder

NC District Court Judge District 24 Seat 03 (Republican Party)

Hal G. Harrison

NC District Court Judge District 24 Seat 04 (Republican Party)

Ted McEntire

Watauga County Board of Commissioners District 1 (Democrat Party)

Carrington Pertalion

Watauga County Board of Commissioners District 2 (Democrat Party)

John Welch

Watauga County Board of Commissioners District 5 (Democrat Party)

Charlie Wallin

Watauga County Register of Deeds (Republican Party)

Amy Jones Shook

Watauga County Board of Education

Ronald (Ronny) Holste

Jason K. Cornett

Marshall Ashcraft

Steve Combs