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The News & Observer says: “Perhaps the most competitive contest in North Carolina next year will be the one for state treasurer.”

I’ve counted six Democrats and three Republicans being mentioned for the race.

It’s no mystery why. Richard Moore has shown that the Treasurer’s Office has the keys to a treasure chest full of money that can finance a race for Governor.

Council of State seats have increasingly become launching pads for political careers in North Carolina. One reason is that North Carolina elects an inordinate number of top state offices, which are appointed in other states.

In 1948, Kerr Scott organized farmers to rally behind his campaign for Governor.

In the 1960s, Robert Morgan turned the Attorney General’s Office into an active platform for his political future. Rufus Edmisten, Lacy Thornburg and Mike Easley tried to do the same, though only Easley succeeded.

In 1970, the state Constitution was rewritten to make the Lieutenant Governor full time, with a staff. Jim Hunt promptly turned it into a stepping stone to the top job. But no Lieutenant Governor since has followed his path. Jimmy Green, Bob Jordan, Jim Gardner and Dennis Wicker all failed to win the Governor’s race. Beverly Perdue may break the jinx.

In the ’90s, Bob Etheridge went from Superintendent of Public Instruction to Congress.

Now, Moore is running for Governor from the Treasurer’s Office. And AG Roy Cooper may run for higher office someday.

The rest of the Council of State members seem content to stay where they are. Especially Insurance Commissioner Jim Long, who is determined to serve in office longer than Thad Eure did as Secretary of State.

But my guess is that none of the potential candidates for Treasurer are interested in challenging Long’s record. It will be up or out for them.

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