Under the Dome

Republican challenges NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall

A.J. Daoud rolled into downtown Raleigh on a campaign tour bus and parked in front of the office he hopes to win: N.C. Secretary of State.

Daoud, a Republican, launched his challenge to Democratic incumbent Elaine Marshall Monday morning at the state Capitol. He says Marshall’s office hasn’t made it easy to start a small business.

“A lot of businesses have complained to me that there’s difficulties, there’s obstacles for new businesses forming, websites are antiquated,” he said. “They’re making it difficult for people to start their businesses and create jobs.”

Daoud is the Republican Party’s 6th Congressional District chairman, and he briefly sought to chair the state party before dropping out of that race earlier this year. He has also been a state lottery commissioner since 2013.

He ran for Secretary of State in 2012, coming in fourth place in the GOP primary with 10 percent of the vote.

This time, the Daoud campaign lists a steering committee with several prominent Republican legislators, including House Rules Chairman David Lewis, Sen. Jerry Tillman and Rep. Jason Saine. Sen. Ronald Rabin, a Harnett County Republican, attended Monday’s campaign launch.

Daoud is also a former police officer who spent years running a group of funeral homes based in Pilot Mountain. He said his experience operating eight small businesses will help him make the secretary’s office more business friendly.

“It’s very critical to continue the growth of our state,” he said.

Marshall has been in office since 1997, and her campaign for another term is under way: She’s holding a fundraiser Tuesday in Raleigh.