Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is taking another page out of the Donald Trump/Ted Budd “Political Playbook” by not bothering to show up for a Republican primary debate, WGHP reported.
In addition to Robinson, four other Republicans are currently running in the party’s gubernatorial primary – state treasurer Dale Folwell, ex-insurance executive Jesse Thomas, ex-U.S. Rep. Mark Walker and former state Sen. Andy Wells. Folwell, Thomas and Walker have all agreed to attend a Sept. 12 debate in Cary and Wells has agreed to join them on Sept. 13 for another debate in Charlotte.
Robinson, who is the runaway frontrunner in polls and fundraising, has not agreed to appear at either debate and his campaign did not respond to questions from WGHP.
Budd refused to appear at any debates while running for U.S. Senate in 2022 and he still ended up winning the primary and then the general election.
More recently, Trump decided against showing up for the Aug. 23 Republican presidential primary debate, explaining that “The public knows who I am” and that polls showed he already had “legendary” numbers.
“I am not surprised Mark Robinson is not debating,” he said. “He is far ahead in the polls and has a penchant for making statements that come back to haunt him when he’s off-script — he’s got a lot to lose and very little, if anything, to gain for not debating. As Ted Budd proved last cycle, you can not only win a primary without debating, but you can win handily.”
Cooper went on to say that the decisions being made by Robinson, Budd and Trump “reinforces that we may be entering a new era of primary debates where front-runners don’t see any good in debating, and thus stay away from the stage and opt for more scripted venues.”
Folwell also said he wasn’t surprised by Robinson’s decision.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t be surprised that a person who has been paid nearly half a million dollars and not shown up for work would show up for a job interview for governor,” Folwell told WGHP.
Walker’s campaign manager, Jonathan Bridges, told WGHP that “We hope that Mr. Robinson will reconsider his decision not to show up. It’s important for voters to know where the candidates stand on issues that are going to impact the direction of our state.”
The Sept. 12 debate will be held at MacGregor Downs Country Club in Cary and is sponsored by the Wake County Republican Party. The next night’s debate will be held at Maggiano’s restaurant in Charlotte and is sponsored by the Republican Women of Greater Charlotte.