Raleigh, N.C. — Thirteen candidates filed paperwork to enter the gubernatorial race as the candidate filing period closed at noon Wednesday.
Former 2nd District Congressman Bob Etheridge submitted his paperwork to the State Board of Elections on Wednesday morning, becoming the last Democratic candidate to file for governor.
He joins Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, Orange County Rep. Bill Faison, retired doctor Bruce Blackmon, sales manager Gary Dunn and retired auditor Gardenia Henley on the Democratic primary ballot.
On the Republican side, former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, who lost the 2008 gubernatorial election, joins Fayetteville businessman Jim Harney, Greensboro businessman Scott Jones, Lincoln County real estate agent Jim Mahan, Charles Kenneth Moss and former judge Paul Wright.
Former Libertarian Party Chairwoman Barbara Howe, who ran for governor in 2000 and 2004, will also be part of the race to succeed Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue.
Perdue announced last month that she wouldn't seek a second term, choosing instead to focus on lobbying for more state funding for public schools and higher education.
The three top Democratic candidates were already staking out their positions on Wednesday.
"I cannot allow the people who are temporarily in charge of our state legislature and those who support and applaud their actions to put our children and our grandchildren and the future of this entire state at risk," Etheridge said.
Dalton called education and economic development the key issues in the election.
"We should be focused on where North Carolina is right now," he said. "I want to move North Carolina forward, and it's hard to move forward when you're pointed in the wrong direction."
Faison called his main opponents "career politicians," while he is a "part-time politician." He also said he's the only gubernatorial candidate who has drawn up a job-creation plan.
Etheridge has already released his personal tax records – state law requires candidates only provide a statement listing their investments and other economic interests – and Dalton said he would do likewise. Faison and McCrory said they don't plan to release their tax records.
The level of interest in the governor's race is unusually high. Only nine candidates sought the office in 2008, when former Gov, Mike Easley finished his second term.
Seven people are seeking to succeed Dalton as lieutenant governor.
Linda Coleman of Knightdale, a former lawmaker who is now the state personnel director, will face state Sen. Eric Mansfield of Fayetteville in the Democratic primary.
State Reps. Dale Folwell of Forsyth County and Grey Mills of Mooresville, Raleigh businessman Dan Forest, Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley and Bladen County businessman Arthur Rich will vie for the Republican nomination.
The primary will be held May 8.