Mark Robinson (American politician)

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Mark Robinson
Mark Robinson (cropped).png
35th Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina
Assumed office
January 9, 2021
GovernorRoy Cooper
Preceded byDan Forest
Personal details
Born
Mark Keith Robinson

(1968-08-08) August 8, 1968 (age 53)
Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Yolanda Hill
Children2
EducationNorth Carolina A&T State University
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1985–1989
UnitUnited States Army Reserve

Mark Keith Robinson (born August 8, 1968) is an American politician serving as the 35th lieutenant governor of North Carolina since 2021. A member of the Republican Party, he is the first African-American to hold the office. After defeating Democratic nominee Yvonne Lewis Holley in the 2020 lieutenant gubernatorial election, he succeeded Republican Dan Forest, who had made an unsuccessful run for the governorship against incumbent Democrat Roy Cooper. His political career has been characterized by promotion of conspiracy theories and numerous incendiary statements.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Robinson was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, as the ninth of ten children.[3] His father was abusive, and he and his siblings lived in foster care for part of their childhood.[4] He was a graduate of Grimsley High School. From 1985 to 1989, he served in the United States Army Reserve.[5] Robinson worked at a furniture factory[5][6] and had begun to study history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.[7]

Political career[edit]

In April 2018, Robinson attended a meeting of the Greensboro City Council, where they debated whether or not to cancel a gun show in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Robinson spoke in favor of gun rights, and video of his speech went viral after it was shared on Facebook by Mark Walker.[8] He was invited to speak at the National Rifle Association's annual convention that year.[9][10]

2020 campaign[edit]

Robinson ran in the 2020 election for lieutenant governor of North Carolina. He won the Republican nomination, clearing the 30% threshold to avoid a primary runoff, defeating state senator Andy Wells, superintendent of public instruction Mark Johnson, former congresswoman Renee Ellmers, and former state representative Scott Stone.[11] He faced Democratic nominee Yvonne Lewis Holley in the general election in November,[12] in a race in which either Robinson or Holley would become North Carolina's first African-American lieutenant governor.[13] Robinson was elected.[14]

Robinson's 2020 campaign finance reports contained incomplete information on his campaign contributors, and shows questionable campaign expenditures, including spending on items for clothing for Robinson and wife.[15] Robinson reported $186 for medical bills and for $2,840 for "campaign clothes and accessories" (most of it spent at a sporting goods shop), but failed to explain why these expenditures were campaign-related.[15] The reports stated that Robinson's wife spent $4,500 for "campaign clothing" but gave no details.[15] The reports also stated that Robinson withdrew an unexplained $2,400 in cash in apparent violation of a state law requiring all candidate cash payment over $50 to be accompanied by a detailed description explaining of what the money was for.[15] After these expenses came under scrutiny in 2021, Robinson's campaign blamed "clerical errors"; the executive director of the watchdog group Common Cause North Carolina filed a formal complaint with the State Board of Elections over the discrepancies.[15]

Political views, conspiracy-theory promotion and incendiary remarks[edit]

Robinson promoted his persona as a "brash and unfiltered conservative culture warrior."[16] He opposes abortion,[17] promotes climate change denial,[18] and opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana.[19]

Robinson's past antisemitic comments have drawn scrutiny and condemnation.[16][20] He claimed that the movie Black Panther was "created by an agnostic Jew and put to film by satanic Marxist" that was "only created to pull the shekels out of your Schvartze pockets" (using a Yiddish word for Black).[21][17] Robinson also appeared at an interview with fringe pastor Sean Moon, who claimed that he planned to become "king of the United States"; in the interview, Moon claimed that the Rothschild family was one of the "four horsemen of the apocalypse" and promoted the antisemitic conspiracy theory of a cabal of Jewish "international bankers" who rule every country's central bank. Robinson endorsed Moon's claim as "exactly right."[20] Robinson's statements, as well as his refusal to apologize or retract them, has alarmed North Carolina's Jewish community.[16]

On his Facebook page, which has more than 100,000 followers, Robinson's posts, which often impugn transgender people, Muslims, former President Barack Obama, and African-Americans who support Democrats, have drawn criticism.[21] Robinson accused people "who support this mass delusion called transgenderism" of seeking "to glorify Satan".[21] Robinson called former President Obama "a worthless, anti-American atheist"[21] and posted "birther" memes;[17] accused American Muslims of being "INVADERS" who "refuse to assimilate to our ways while demanding respect they have not earned"; called Michelle Obama a man; and disparaged Joy Behar and Maxine Waters in crude terms.[21] After the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, Robinson wrote that "Homosexuality is STILL an abominable sin and I WILL NOT join in 'celebrating gay pride.'"[17] In 2020, Robinson asserted that the coronavirus was a "globalist" conspiracy to defeat Donald Trump, and dismissed the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, writing, "The looming pandemic I'm most worried about is SOCIALISM."[17]

The Charlotte Observer editorial board described Robinson's posts as "cringeworthy" and "an embarrassment"[22] while the state Democratic Party called them "homophobic, anti-Semitic, and downright unhinged."[20] Robinson's posts were also criticized by Equality North Carolina[21] and Jewish community leaders in North Carolina.[23] When asked about the posts, Robinson declined to apologize, referring to his posts as "my personal opinions" and saying "I'm not ashamed of anything that I post."[18][21]

At a sermon at a Winston-Salem church in November 2021, Robinson said that heterosexual couples are "superior" to gay couples because the latter cannot conceive a child together.[24] Robinson compared homosexuality to cow manure, maggots, and flies, explaining that the latter all serve a purpose in God's creation; whereas, with homosexuality, Robinson remarked, "If homosexuality is of God, what purpose does it serve? What does it make? What does it create? It creates nothing."[25]

Tenure[edit]

Robinson was sworn in on January 9, 2021.[26] As lieutenant governor in June 2021, Robinson delivered a speech in which he disparaged "transgenderism and homosexuality" as "filth," saying: "There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth. And yes I called it filth. And if you don’t like that I called it filth, come see me and I’ll explain it to you." In the same speech, which was delivered at a Seagrove, North Carolina, church, he called for an end to the separation of church and state in public schools.[27] In October 2021, after Robinson's speech was brought to light by Right Wing Watch, Democratic state senator Jeff Jackson called for Robinson to resign, and Governor Roy Cooper's office said that "It's abhorrent to hear anyone, and especially an elected official, use hateful rhetoric that hurts people and our state’s reputation."[27] North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein made similar comments.[28] The Biden administration, through a statement by White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates, condemned Robinson's words as "repugnant and offensive" and said that a leader's role is "to bring people together and stand up for the dignity and rights of everyone; not to spread hate and undermine their own office."[28]

Personal life[edit]

Robinson and his wife, Yolanda, have two children.[5] They live in High Point, North Carolina.[7] Robinson has filed for bankruptcy on three occasions, has been sued for payments, and had liens placed on him by the Internal Revenue Service as recently as 2012. He has claimed that any outstanding issues with the IRS have been "taken care of."[9]

Electoral history[edit]

2020 North Carolina Republican Primary lieutenant gubernatorial election[29]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mark Robinson 240,843 32.52%
Republican Andy Wells 107,824 14.56%
Republican Mark Johnson 89,200 12.04%
Republican John L. Ritter 85,023 11.48%
Republican Renee Ellmers 50,526 6.82%
Republican Greg Gebhardt 50,474 6.81%
Republican Deborah Cochran 48,234 6.51%
Republican Scott Stone 48,193 6.51%
Republican Buddy Bengal 20,395 2.75%
Total votes 740,712 100%
2020 North Carolina lieutenant gubernatorial election[30]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mark Robinson 2,800,655 51.63%
Democratic Yvonne Lewis Holley 2,623,458 48.37%
Total votes 5,424,113 100%
Republican hold

References[edit]

  1. ^ ANDERSON, BRYAN (October 11, 2021). "NC Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson Criticized Over Anti-LGBT Views".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ "'I'm Not Ashamed': Republican Candidate for Lieutenant Governor Blasted for Racist, Homophobic Posts". Cardinal & Pine. October 1, 2020. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  3. ^ "App State's Turning Point USA brings candidate for lieutenant governor to discuss education, gun rights – The Appalachian". Theappalachianonline.com. February 20, 2020. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  4. ^ "'Our message resonated': Greensboro's Mark Robinson on his improbable rise to lieutenant governor". greensboro.com. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c comment, 2018 / Leave a (April 12, 2018). "Meet the Man Whose Hometown Defense of 2nd Amendment Went Viral". The Daily Signal. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  6. ^ "Mark Robinson Announces Run For Lt. Governor - The Rhino Times of Greensboro". Rhinotimes.com. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Pulliam, Tim (November 10, 2020). "North Carolina's first Black lieutenant governor-elect Mark Robinson hopes to inspire others with personal story". ABC11 Raleigh-Durham.
  8. ^ Molina, Camila; Moody, Aaron (April 6, 2018). "'Come hell or high water,' citizens will keep gun rights, NC man vows in viral video". The News & Observer.
  9. ^ a b Doran, Will (March 6, 2020). "Meet the black gun rights activist who could make history for Republicans". The News & Observer.
  10. ^ Larson, David (March 11, 2020). "Grassroots effort drives Mark Robinson to shock win in GOP Lt. Gov. primary". North State Journal. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  11. ^ Gary D. Roberson (March 4, 2020). "Political newcomer Mark Robinson of Greensboro wins GOP nomination for lieutenant governor". Associated Press.
  12. ^ Vaughan, Dawn (March 10, 2020). "Democrats avoid a runoff in NC, setting up history-making election for Lt. Governor". The News & Observer.
  13. ^ "Gun Speech Propels Black Former Factory Worker to Lieutenant Gov Nomination". Afro. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  14. ^ "Mark Robinson becomes N.C.'s first African-American lieutenant governor". November 3, 2020.
  15. ^ a b c d e Danielle Battaglia, Lt. Gov Mark Robinson campaign finance reports miss details, News & Observer (February 22, 2021). Republished at [https://greensboro.com/watchdog-robinson-campaign-report-details-disturbing-omissions-glaring-discrepancies/article_ea331aae-7525-11eb-b5a8-d373c7191261.html The Greensboro News & Record.
  16. ^ a b c Matthew Kassel, North Carolina's lieutenant governor has Jewish community on high alert: Republican Mark Robinson has drawn scrutiny for past antisemitic comments, refusing to apologize even after assuming office, Jewish Insider (February 19, 2021).
  17. ^ a b c d e Billman, Jeffrey C. (March 27, 2020). "The NCGOP's Lt. Gov. Candidate Apparently Thinks the Coronavirus Is a "Globalist" Conspiracy to Destroy Donald Trump". Indy Week. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  18. ^ a b Fain, Travis (September 25, 2020). "On Facebook, NC's Republican candidate for lieutenant governor lashes out, insults". WRAL. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  19. ^ "Candidate Profile for Mark Robinson". ivoterguide.com. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  20. ^ a b c Campbell, Colin (October 22, 2020). "NC Lt. Gov. candidate appeared with religious leader who plans to become king of the US". News & Observer.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g Colin Campbell (October 10, 2020). "Muslim 'invaders' and transgender 'delusion': Lt. gov. candidate's posts draw criticism". News & Observer.
  22. ^ "Endorsements: Our choices for NC Lt. Gov, Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer and Insurance". The Charlotte Observer. September 30, 2020. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  23. ^ Julian Grace (November 4, 2020). "Religious leader wants answers from lieutenant governor-elect about Facebook posts". WRAL.
  24. ^ Baker, Sinéad (November 21, 2021). "North Carolina's lieutenant governor said straight people are 'superior' to gay people". Insider. Business Insider. Retrieved December 2, 2021. He said that a gay man once asked him: "So, you think your wife and you — you think your heterosexual relationship is superior to my husband and my homosexual relationship?" And he told the crowd that he told the man yes. He said this was because two men could not conceive a child together. "These people are superior because they can do something these people can't do," he said. "Because that's the way God created it to be. And I'm tired of this society trying to tell me it's not so."
  25. ^ Murphy, Brian (November 19, 2021). "NC Lt. Gov. Robinson calls straight couples 'superior' to gays in sermon, video shows". The Charlotte Observer. The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved December 2, 2021. In Winston-Salem, Robinson compared being gay to “what the cows leave behind” as well as maggots and flies, who he said all serve a purpose in God’s creation. “If homosexuality is of God, what purpose does it serve? What does it make? What does it create? It creates nothing,” Robinson said.
  26. ^ "North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, state officials sworn in during inauguration ceremony". WXII 12. Hearst Television Inc. January 9, 2021. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  27. ^ a b Jeff Reeves (October 7, 2021). "NC lawmaker calls on Lt. Gov. Robinson to resign over homophobic, transphobic comments". CBS17.com. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
  28. ^ a b "Report: White House condemns N.C. lieutenant governor's statements about LGBTQ issues". WBTV. Retrieved October 9, 2021.
  29. ^ "2020 Republican Primary Lieutenant Governor Election Results".
  30. ^ "2020 North Carolina Lieutenant Governor General Election Results".

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina
2021–present
Incumbent