Former state Senator Deanna Ballard joins list of lieutenant governor candidates

By: - July 25, 2023 2:00 pm
Deanna Ballard speaking into microphone

Former State Senator Deanna Ballard – Photo: feed

A former Republican state senator who takes credit for pushing North Carolina’s leaders to reopen schools during the pandemic, has announced her candidacy for lieutenant governor.

Deanna Ballard, a Watauga County Republican, boasts in a press release announcing her candidacy that she went “toe-to-toe with Gov. Roy Cooper, former Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, and the teachers’ union, forcing their hand by passing landmark legislation ordering the schools reopened.”

In 2021, Ballard co-sponsored Senate Bill 220 that required K-12 schools to open for in-person instruction. Cooper, a Democrat, signed the bill into law.

Ballard worked with current Lt. Governor Mark Robinson, a Guilford County Republican, on the Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students (F.A.C.T.S.) task force that sought to uncover political indoctrination in public schools.

Robinson announced that he is running for governor. It was unclear Tuesday whether he will endorse Ballard in the lieutenant governor’s race. Republicans state Rep. Jeffrey Elmore of Wilkes County; Hal Weatherman, a former aide to Dan Forest, a previous lieutenant governor and Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page are all running for the seat, the Associated Press reported.

Democratic candidates include current state Sen. Rachel Hunt of Charlotte and former Sen. Ben Clark from the Fayetteville area, the AP reported. Primaries will be held in March.

Robinson’s task force turned up little evidence of political indoctrination in the state’s K-12 schools. Nevertheless, it became one of the sparks that ignited an intense culture war that has led to a slew of conservative legislation around parental rights, book bans, school choice and LGBTQ rights.

“I’ve dedicated my life to fighting for our children and serving working families – the backbone of North Carolina. They’ve been stretched thin by inflation, looked down upon by elites, and told their way of thinking and worshipping is no longer mainstream. Enough is enough,” Ballard said in a press release announcing her candidacy.

Ballard was elected to represent District 45 in 2016 and chaired several key senate education committees. In 2021, Ballard lost a close District 47 Republican to Ralph Hise, a Mitchell County Republican, after a  redistricting forced the two into a primary race.

She is a longtime employee of the Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical disaster relief organization in Boone.

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Greg Childress
Greg Childress

Education Reporter Greg Childress covers all aspects of public education in North Carolina, including debates over school funding, curricula, privatization, and teacher pay and licensing.