Dan Forest in Winston-Salem

Dan Forest shakes hands with supporters as he gets ready to announce for governor in Winston-Salem on Saturday.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest kicked off his campaign for governor here on Saturday, telling around a thousand supporters that his themes would be “unity, opportunity and possibility.”

Forest, a Republican, spoke in the Annex at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds, promising a clean campaign as he tries to parlay his two terms as lieutenant governor into the state’s top job.

“I will run a campaign that appeals to your aspirations, not your fears,” Forest said, adding that he would visit all 100 counties in his quest.

Forest is the son of former U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, who represented a Charlotte-area district from 1995 to 2013. Forest had his mother stand up and thanked her for her role in his life.

A sitting member of Congress, Fifth Congressional District Rep. Virginia Foxx, who has served since her election in 2004, was among those introducing Forest and his campaign.

Speaking of unity, Forest said the problem in today’s politics is that “there are people trying to divide us following the playbook of identity politics,” adding this his campaign would “refuse to divide people into categories and put them in boxes.”

“We will not stoke hatred — that is not who we are,” Forest said.

Forest stressed support for “moral responsibility,” saying that the unborn, newborns, the elderly and disabled all need protection. He voiced support for teachers, law enforcement officers and members of the military, along with school choice and opportunity scholarships for low-income people to have more school choices.

As governor, he said, he would do more to put North Carolina “in the game” economically. He told how he went to an international event focusing on the aviation industry to find that there were 80 people there from Alabama, including that state’s governor, when he was the only one from North Carolina.

“We’re not winning the game because we are not in the game,” Forest said.

The campaign kickoff featured an emphasis on social media as a way to get the word out, and people were encouraged to take selfies and post their videos of the event on Facebook.

The rally also had more traditional things such as T-shirts and campaign buttons, and a band, Summer Brooke and the Mountain Faith Band, entertained the crowd while they waited.

Steve Noble, a Christian talk-show host, interviewed Forest supporters such as Clarence Henderson, a participant in the Woolworth lunch-counter sit-in in 1960 to protest segregation.

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wyoung@wsjournal.com 336-727-7369 @wyoungWSJ

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