Duke professor Michael Munger runs for state house with focus on education, affordable housing

Professor of Political Science Michael Munger is looking to serve his community by running for office — again.

Munger previously ran for governor of North Carolina in 2008 as the Libertarian Party nominee, becoming the first third-party candidate to appear in a televised debate and garnering nearly three percent of the vote. He has also previously run for state senate and state house. Now he’s running for state house again, this time to represent District 40 in the N.C. House of Representatives. 

According to Munger, his campaign efforts were largely inspired by his own party switch in 2003, when he stopped being a Republican after the United States invaded Iraq. This prompted Munger to register as a Libertarian, but he was quickly faced with third-party restrictions on North Carolina ballots. 

In an effort to dismantle the influence of the two party system, Munger campaigns to fight for third-party representation. According to Munger, his campaign for governor received 5 to 6% in the polls, allowing for his participation in debates. He ultimately got 2.8% of the votes in the 2008 gubernatorial election, hitting the 2% benchmark for the Libertarian Party to remain on future North Carolina ballots.

Perhaps the biggest motivator for running for the District 40 seat was Munger’s position as a political science professor. 

“More political scientists ought to have a nuts and bolts understanding of politics,” Munger said. “... I think more people should participate in politics at this level and if you lose, you still learn a lot.” 

Munger believes faculty should engage in three activities: research, teaching and service, with his campaigns being his acts of service. This is complemented by his involvement in public speaking, going to meetings and talking to high schoolers about policy analysis.   

Munger’s platform focuses on three issues: education access, housing reform and dismantling the current alcoholic beverage system. 

Munger advocates for more “responsibility and participation” in the education system, favoring increased school choice for parents. This would include more funding through vouchers and other sources so public schools can compete with their private counterparts. 

Citing the 1997 Leandro vs. State of North Carolina state Supreme Court case which “affirmed every child’s state constitutional right to a sound, basic education beginning in early childhood,” Munger noted that North Carolina was “unconstitutionality discriminating” against poorer counties — particularly in the southeastern region of NC — as the “levels of funding they had were just not capable of providing an education.” 

“The state has done a poor job of fulfilling its constitutional obligations to make sure that all citizens have access to an adequate K through 12 education,” he said.

Munger emphasized that education reforms provide a “shared experience” and give “people a chance to become a part of something larger than themselves.”

On the lack of affordable housing in many of the state’s cities, including Durham, Munger said certain laws and regulations make it “effectively illegal to build new housing.” By aiming to reform “excessive government regulation of new buildings,” Munger hopes to ensure that North Carolina is a “leader rather than a laggard” in housing policy.

“The third thing that I would focus on is dismantling the cumbersome, extremely expensive and frankly ridiculous Alcoholic Beverage Control system that North Carolina has,” Munger said, arguing that money is being taken from taxpayers to pay people to run ABC stores that are known for their “inconvenience, excessive prices and lack of choice.”

Munger thinks the solution to this problem is simple: change the state’s alcohol control system to the regulated retail system present in other states.

As a resident of District 40, which encompasses the northwest part of Wake County, Munger believes in developing a close relationship with his constituents. 

“The job of politicians should be to make it possible for people to achieve their goals and to have a way to get their children to achieve their hopes and dreams,” Munger said. 

Michelle Voicu profile
Michelle Voicu

Michelle Voicu is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter for the news department. 


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