In front of his hometown supporters Saturday at the Forsyth County Republican Convention, Republican State Treasurer Dale Folwell, 64, announced his intentions to seek the GOP nomination for governor in 2024.
“It was important for me to make this announcement in my home county with supporters who have stuck with me and supported me,“ Folwell told Carolina Journal just moments after the announcement at the Village Inn in Clemmons.
“Voters do not have to gamble when they vote for me,” said Folwell. “They know I attack problems, not people. As governor I will continue to be focused on saving lives, minds, and money as I have successfully done throughout my career in public service.”
To say that Folwell has traveled a unique path in politics and life is an understatement.
When Ronald Reagan took the oath of office in 1981 and said “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Folwell was involved in a different kind of public service. He was a garbage collector. Inspired by his boss to do more, Folwell quickly graduated with two accounting degrees from UNC-Greensboro. Just five years removed from collecting household rubbish, Folwell was working in banking and investments, including a large deal involving the company he used to pick up trash for.
A certified public accountant by trade, Folwell was sworn in for his first term as state treasurer of North Carolina in January 2017. He was re-elected in 2020. Folwell is responsible for the more than $125 billion state pension fund that provides retirement benefits for a million teachers, police officers, and other public workers. Folwell pointed out in his comments that the pension plan was rated among the top five in the country for solvency and effective management.
In 2020, the state’s coveted AAA bond rating was reaffirmed by every major rating agency, making North Carolina one of only 13 states in the country to hold that distinction. As reported by Carolina Journal, Folwell has aggressively fought “woke” investing known as ESG, or environmental, social, and governance, a recent trend involving large investment companies picking which stocks to buy based on how those companies align with left-wing social and environmental priorities.
“Just because somebody manages money for our pension plan doesn’t mean they own the stocks and can spew their own social beliefs on something they don’t own,” said Folwell. “We are working to remove their proxy, so they can manage the stocks but not vote on the stocks.”
Folwell was first elected to public office as a member of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education in 1993, serving until 2000. He was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in 2004, where he served four terms in the House of Representatives including one term as speaker pro tempore. Civitas Action twice rated Folwell as the most conservative member of the House on a broad range of issues.
Folwell’s 7-year-old son was killed by a motorist while boarding a school bus in 1999. In 2006, Folwell traveled more than 30,000 miles on his motorcycle through the lower 48 states in support of organ donation. He later led a legislative effort to promote organ donations in honor of his son.
In 2013, Folwell was named assistant secretary of commerce and led the Division of Unemployment Security. Folwell was charged with implementing Gov. Pat McCrory’s and the GOP-controlled legislature’s massive reforms of unemployment benefits. At the time, North Carolina had large numbers of unemployed people and large numbers of unfilled jobs. Folwell led efforts to reduce weekly benefits and the number of weeks of collection in part to get people off extended unemployment and back to work.
“The math just did not add up,” Folwell recalled. “We were paying people more NOT to work than to work.”
As treasurer, Folwell oversees the State Health Plan, the largest single payer of health costs in the state. His push for pricing transparency and his part in ousting Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina as third-party administrator of the State Health Plan and replacing Blue Cross with Aetna has put him at odds with powerful lobbying groups, the hospitals association, as well as BCBSNC.
Primaries for the 2024 governor’s race promise to be crowded fields. Democrat Attorney General Josh Stein, who serves on the North Carolina Council of State with Folwell, has already thrown his name in the ring for the Democrat primary for governor. Current Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a Republican, announced last week that he will make a “special announcement” during a rally at the Ace Speedway in Elon on April 22.