Cherie Berry, the state’s labor commissioner since 2001, announced Tuesday that she would not seek reelection.
Truth be told, the sixty-eight-year-old Republican never seemed all that interested in doing her job—at least the parts of it that entailed holding businesses accountable for shady practices. As Mandy Locke reported for The News & Observer in 2015, Berry routinely failed to investigate labor violations and hadn’t collected more than $1 million in unpaid wages to over six hundred workers.
She didn’t think that was a problem. “The Labor Department ain’t broke, and we don’t need to fix it,” she told the N&O.
Berry was good at getting reelected, however. Despite her typically low-profile office, Berry garnered huge name recognition by placing her photo in every elevator in the state (hence her nickname, “Elevator Queen”). This ingenious gimmick helped her coast to victory time and time again despite her lackluster job performance; in 2016, she defeated former Raleigh mayor Charles Meeker by ten points.
Jessica Holmes, who chairs the Wake County Board of Commissioners, is vying for the seat along with fellow Democrat Eva Lee, a Raleigh tax attorney. A Republican candidate will likely surface soon.