Outgoing NC Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan considering gubernatorial bid

Justice Michael Morgan (via nccourts.gov)

RALEIGH — North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice Mike Morgan, who announced last month he won’t seek reelection to the court next year, says he’s weighing a 2024 bid for governor.

Morgan, one of two registered Democrats on the state’s highest court, said this week that many within the party are asking him to look at a gubernatorial candidacy.

Attorney General Josh Stein has been the only high-profile Democrat to get into the race, announcing his plans in January. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is barred by term limits from running again now.

“I’ve been asked, quite frankly, to look at the race for governor,” Morgan told the NC Insider state government news service in a phone interview. “And while I highly respect the declared candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, I feel inclined to respect the calls that I’m getting.”

Morgan has been on the bench for over 30 years, serving as an administrative law judge, a Wake County District Court judge and a Superior Court judge before being elected to the Supreme Court in 2016.

At the time of his announcement last month to leave the court, Morgan told The Associated Press that he didn’t know whether he’d serve out the remainder of his term through the end of 2024 or step aside early. Morgan said then he was keeping his options open for future endeavors and didn’t rule out seeking another elected office. Cooper would appoint someone to serve out Morgan’s term should he step down early.

The Republican field for governor includes state Treasurer Dale Folwell, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker.

Morgan, who like Robinson is black, told the NC Insider that Democratic voters need more than one option heading into next March’s primary given the full plate of GOP candidates and that his entry would enhance Democrats’ chances to retain the executive mansion.

“There are some disturbing voices that want to lead our state in a direction that’s backward, downward and wayward,” Morgan said. “If I would decide to run, it would strengthen our party going forward to the 2024 race and it would strengthen our ability to keep the governorship in a responsible leader’s hands.”

Morgan said he would evaluate his potential support and ability to raise campaign funds before deciding whether to get into the race.