Forsyth Co. district attorney Jim O’Neill files to run for state attorney general


Republican Jim O’Neill, a candidate for N.C. Attorney General, speaks to the media after filing to run for the office.

RALEIGH – Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill filed paperwork today at the N.C. Board of Elections, making good on his promise to run for state Attorney General Monday afternoon. O’Neill will face fellow Republican state Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson in the March primary.

“The attorney general’s office overlaps with so much that goes on in state government, and the average person doesn’t think about all the different ways that they may interact with the A.G.’s office during the day,” O’Neill said after he filed for the position. “What I believe that the attorney general’s office needs most of all is an experienced prosecutor to become the top prosecutor in the state. Common sense would seem to dictate that you need to be the top prosecutor somewhere, working in a district attorney’s office.”

O’Neill, who announced in September that he would run for the post, joins three others vying to be North Carolina’s top prosecutor. The only thing that is certain is that the Tarheel State will have a new A.G., since Democrat Roy Cooper, the current A.G., is running for governor. Republican state Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson announced in June that he is running for attorney general, and two Democrats will run for their party’s nomination: state Sen. Josh Stein of Raleigh and Fayetteville lawyer Tim Dunn.

O’Neill has been the Forsyth County district attorney since 2009. He says that he has a broad range of courtroom experience that will serve him well if elected to the position.

“I’ve tried everything from a barking dog case to capital murder,” O’Neill said. “I’d put my experience [up] against anybody. I’m battle tested, proven, over and over again; I understand the laws, I understand how they have to be applied. You need someone who can hit the ground running from Day One, and I’m that person.”

O’Neill is a Duke University graduate who earned his law degree from New York Law School, according to his campaign website. He was in private practice in Winston-Salem before becoming an assistant district attorney in Forsyth County in 1997.

According to paperwork filed with the N.C. State Board of Elections in July, O’Neill raised $7,332 in the first six months of 2015 and his campaign had about $94,000 in cash at that point, money O’Neill says he carried over from his district attorney campaigns (he ran unopposed in 2010 and 2014 after being appointed to the position in 2009). Newton’s campaign reports for July showed he raised about $168,000 in the first half of 2015 and had $212,526 on hand as of June 30.