James Barrett, a candidate in the Democratic primary for Superintendent of Public Instruction, has taken the somewhat unusual step of endorsing a candidate in another primary. On December 21st Jenna Wadsworth, a candidate in the Democratic primary for Commissioner of Agriculture, got into a back and forth with a Democratic activist on Twitter and Barrett jumped in with what he later confirmed to The Cycle was an endorsement. Barrett stated “Since March, I’ve seen Ms. Wadsworth campaigning all around the state, listening to the right folks, and sharing her vision for new Ag future for our state. Neither of her Democratic opponents have [sic] done the same. She is a strong progressive change agent who will serve us well.”
Barrett is in a five-way primary with Constance Johnson, Jen Mangrum, Michael Maher, and Keith Sutton. Normally candidates in a primary will refrain from endorsing other candidates for fear of isolating potential voters, but Barrett told The Cycle he took the step because “…Jenna is the best candidate we have for the office. She brings fresh energy, clear ideas about current challenges (climate change), and is doing the right work to help all Dems win across NC.”
A member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education, Barrett serves as a Senior Program Manager for Lenovo. Barrett also runs his own website development company MyBetterWeb.
Wadsworth was elected to serve on the Wake County Soil & Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors in 2010. She was re-elected in 2014 and 2018. Her campaign is managed by Brandon Combs, who also managed the Court of Appeals campaign for Toby Hampson in 2018.
Wadsworth has also been endorsed by Britt Cobb, a Chief of Staff for former Governor Beverly Perdue. Cobb was appointed by Gov. Easley in 2003 to serve out the incomplete term of Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps.
The AFL-CIO and former Appeals Court Judge Linda Stephens have also endorsed Wadsworth.