We were pleased that Lt. Gov. Dan Forest chose our fair city to announce the beginning of his campaign for North Carolina governor on Saturday, as the Journal’s Wesley Young reported. Speaking at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds annex, he promised a clean campaign — an aspiration we can only praise. There’s too much rancor, discord and sheer noise in politics today, and anything Forest can do to diminish its spread is a worthy endeavor — and, if there’s any justice, should increase his appeal to the electorate.
“I will run a campaign that appeals to your aspirations, not your fears,” Forest said, adding that his themes would be “unity, opportunity and possibility.” He said that he would visit all 100 N.C. counties during his campaign.
Forest became lieutenant governor in 2012 following a career as an executive in an architectural firm. As lieutenant governor, he’s been involved in several good programs, including a marketing campaign with Alcohol Beverage Control in 2014 to increase awareness of the dangers of underage drinking. Earlier this year he pushed a bill to promote financial literacy education in public schools, something every student could use. We’ve not always agreed with Forest on the issues — he may have been the strongest Republican supporter of HB 2, the disastrous legislation that threatened the state’s economic standing while making life more difficult for transgender residents — but we appreciate his calm demeanor and his resolution to be civil and respectful.
Last month Forest created a bit of a stir with a speech in which he criticized the qualities of “diversity and multiculturalism” — political buzzwords that to some seem to carry connotations beyond their literal meaning. Like it or not, our state is diverse and multicultural — and to stand against those qualities would be to stand against a good portion of the voting public. We appreciate that Forest doesn’t hesitate to speak about his Christian faith — we’ll always know where he stands — but, as we said last month, we hope he’ll remember that if elected, he would be governor of the entire state — which includes people who differ from him in race and in religion. He would be responsible for treating all of them fairly and with respect. If we unite, it will have to be on our common values — hard work, prosperity, educational opportunity — but with respect for the areas in which we differ.
Forest said that “there are people trying to divide us following the playbook of identity politics,” adding that his campaign would “refuse to divide people into categories and put them in boxes.”
There are also people trying to divide us along racial and religious lines. We hope Forest is committed to fighting those efforts as well.
Forest also spoke about economic opportunities for North Carolina, stating, “We’re not winning the game because we are not in the game.” We appreciate his instinct for increased opportunities. We could use them.
State Rep. Holly Grange, a West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran, is also running for the Republican nomination. We hope that primary debates will present an opportunity to see how well Forest keeps his resolution of civility.
Welcome to the race, Mr. Forest.