Former Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicaid CEO joins North Carolina governor race against politician who called Beyoncé satanic

Jesse Thomas compares his political ideology to Abraham Lincoln's "Big Tent" approach, which brings together people from many cultures, backgrounds and experiences. 

The recently retired chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Medicaid division has entered the race for the state’s Republican nomination for governor.

Jesse Thomas, who announced his candidacy on Aug. 8, said after retirement, he decided to put the knowledge he’s acquired over the years to use and run against an expanding field of competitors to become the next state chief executive officer, The Carolina Journal reported.

“No other candidate on either side has that experience,” Thomas contended. “It’s important that we have that effective business perspective, and having been a healthcare leader with a long and storied career of running and leading plans that are multibillion-dollar operations, that’s the kind of leadership we need in our next governor, our next chief executive officer for the state.”

Jesse Thomas for North Carolina governor
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Jesse Thomas, who announced his candidacy for North Carolina governor on Aug. 8, recently retired from his position as CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Medicaid division. (Photo: Screenshot/ Podcast Network)

Thomas’ competition includes former North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker, State Treasurer Dale Folwell, former state Sen. Andy Wells and Lt. Governor Mark Robinson.

According to HuffPost, Robinson, who is Black, has developed a reputation for being a proud conspiracy theorist. He has called Beyoncé “satanic,” plus he thinks the moon landing in 1969 may have been a hoax, the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an “inside job” and that there is a secretive class of reptiles.

The Carolina Journal reported that one of Thomas’ goals is to build on the history of North Carolina as the place of firsts worth celebrating: Having the first public university, the University of North Carolina, and, in recent years, being the first in business alongside the first in health, with a healthy economy, education system and general population.

Thomas says the state’s educational system should be secure and centered on preparing students for the workforce. He wants to emphasize mental health in terms of general wellness rather than just physical health.

In terms of the economy, the Republican gubernatorial contender wants to eliminate the income tax to put more money in the hands of the people, allowing them to use it how they see fit.

He stated that senior communities, assisted living services, geriatric services and more mid-level clinicians and nurse practitioners should receive more assistance, noting that the aging population in close to 20 counties is more than the birth rate in those same counties.

Thomas said he regrets that North Carolina has not yet adopted Medicaid expansion and believes politics has interfered with the needs of the people. He deemed it “unacceptable” that the state is throwing away more than $500 million in federal tax money for each month it has not been implemented. 

Members of the General Assembly noted that the expansion depends on the state budget, which won’t be voted on until at least the middle of September.

Thomas noted that it might go into effect on Oct. 1, but if it takes longer, it could be delayed for another quarter, which would be hectic, with the pending holidays and election season.

“I believe the people are becoming sick and tired,” he said. “I know I am sick and tired of the contention, the acrimony, the vulgarity and profanity and the polarization. We can do better and be better. I’m absolutely convinced that I can be the example that I want to see in our public servants.”

Thomas first ventured into politics when he ran for office as a Republican in Colorado’s 1st Congressional District in 2000. He was working for Colorado Access, a Medicaid health plan, as the director of governmental and community affairs at the time, receiving 3% of the vote in an area that’s around 75% Democratic.

He compares his political ideology to Abraham Lincoln’s “Big Tent” approach, which brings together people from many cultures, backgrounds and experiences. 

The Republican Party of today, in his opinion, has deviated too far from its original principles, and he wants to see a significant reset to go back to what’s fundamental. 

“Our roots were noble and righteous, and they were about abolition, freedom, equal access and opportunity, and we are often found straying from that when we listen to the voices of the extremists,” Thomas told Carolina Journal. “And I want us to do better and be better.”

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