RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson announced late Monday he will not seek the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in 2022.
Robinson, who was elected five months ago to the state’s No. 2 executive position in his first run for elected office, said in a video last week he was taking a “serious look” at a bid to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Burr.
The lieutenant governor’s term runs through 2024.
“I will strive to honor my responsibilities and to keep my promises,” Robinson said in a news release posted on his Facebook page. “It is with this in mind that I have decided I will not run for the U.S. Senate.”
His decision means that former Gov. Pat McCrory and ex-U.S. Rep. Mark Walker remain the top announced candidates in the GOP field. Current U.S. Rep. Ted Budd and Lara Trump, the daughter-in-law of former President Donald Trump, also are considering bids. Democrats already in the race include state Sen. Jeff Jackson and former state Sen. Erica Smith, who ran unsuccessfully for the 2020 Democratic U.S. Senate nomination.
The race to replace Burr is expected to be an expensive campaign. It’s considered a key pickup for Democrats if they want to expand in 2022 a majority currently contingent on Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking votes in a 50-50 chamber.
Robinson, a former factory worker who rose in prominence after appearing in a viral video about gun rights, has spent his early months as lieutenant governor speaking out against what he considers the political indoctrination of K-12 students by their teachers. His jobs include serving on the State Board of Education and presiding over state Senate floor sessions.
“I am proud of what my team and I have accomplished in such a short period of time, especially with the important task of education, and look forward to building on our progress,” Robinson said in the news release, in which he also criticized Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Cooper is barred by term limits from running again in 2024.
Robinson, who is also the state’s first Black lieutenant governor, said he would be working to recruit and support candidates “at every level of government” in 2022.