RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, announced he plans to run for governor in 2024.

Stein has served as the state’s attorney general since 2017. Gov. Roy Cooper, also a Democrat, is in his second term and cannot run again.

“I learned early on that some things are worth fighting for, no matter the opposition,” Stein said in a video announcing his candidacy Wednesday. “Some politicians want to tell you who you should hate, when you’ll be pregnant, and who you can marry. I believe in a different North Carolina — and that the fights we choose determine what kind of state we’ll become. We’ll build a better and brighter North Carolina by standing together for what’s right, fighting to fix what’s wrong, and doing right by every single North Carolinian,” Stein said, as the video shows Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. Robinson is widely expected to be the leading Republican candidate for governor next year.

The lieutenant governor has been criticized for making sexist and homophobic statements. Announcing his candidacy, Stein touted his record-fighting drug companies in court over the opioid epidemic, cracking down on Medicaid fraud and working to clear a backlog in rape kits. 

Stein's announcement takes aim squarely at Robinson, including clips of the lieutenant governor's most controversial speeches.

North Carolina's 2024 gubernatorial campaign, which will have a primary in a little over a year, is lining up to pit Stein, seen as an establishment Democrat, against Robinson, part of the right wing of the Republican Party.

Stein said his campaign has raised more than $5 million over the last two years, leaving him with almost $4 million cash on hand. The 2022 elections are barely over, but the 2024 election cycle is already here.

Next year, North Carolinians will go to the polls to choose a new governor, attorney general and other state leaders. There will also be a presidential election.

The biggest race next year will be for president, with Donald Trump expected to run again for the Republican nomination. 

North Carolina is a solidly purple state. In the 2020 elections, the state went for Trump but also reelected Cooper by a wide margin.