Janet Cowell

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Janet Cowell
Janet Cowell.jpg
North Carolina Treasurer
In office
2008 - Present
Term ends
Years in position 7
PredecessorRichard H. Moore (D)
Base salary$124,676
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First electedNovember 4, 2008
Next generalNovember 8, 2016
Campaign $$3,246,119
Term limitsNone
Prior offices
North Carolina State Senate
Raleigh City Council
High schoolJohn Overton High School
Bachelor'sUniversity of Pennsylvania
Master'sUniversity of Pennsylvania; Lauder Institute
Date of birthJuly 19, 1968
Place of birthMemphis, TN
ReligionUnited Methodist
Office website
Campaign website
Janet Cowell (born July 19, 1968 in Memphis, TN) is the current Democratic North Carolina Treasurer. Cowell was first elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. She previously served as a member of the North Carolina State Senate, representing District 16.

Cowell is the first female to be elected as Treasurer.[1]

A January 2013 article in Governing named Cowell as one of the top state Democratic officials to watch in 2013.[2]


Cowell grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee. The daughter of a Methodist minister and a public school teacher, she graduated from John Overton High School in Nashville, TN.

After high school, Cowell spent her entire academic career at the University of Pennsylvania, first earning a B.A. in Asian history and later earning an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business and an M.A. in international studies from the Lauder Institute.

She worked as a financial analyst with HSBC Bank and Lehman Brothers before relocating to North Carolina in 1997, where she began work as an independent business consultant. She also taught at both Peace College and N.C. State University. From 2003 to 2005, Cowell worked for the Sustainable Jobs Fund, a venture capital firm investing in green jobs. From August 2005 to September 2007 (when she went on leave to campaign for treasurer) Wood worked as an associate consultant for strategic planning with Fountain Works.[3]


  • B.A., University of Pennsylvania
  • M.B.A., Wharton School of Business
  • MA, International studies, Lauder Institute

Political career

North Carolina Treasurer (2008 - Present)

In 2007 Cowell announced her intention to run for the Democratic nomination for treasurer. She defeated Michael Weisel and David Young in the primary election and went on to defeat state Rep. Bill Daughtridge in the general election.


Response to General Assembly underfunding pension

For the first time in nearly 70 years, the North Carolina General Assembly failed to contribute 100 percent of its share to the Teachers and State Employees Retirement System.

Politicians were required to pay $684 million to keep the pension fund balanced. Instead they set up two scenarios, neither of which amounts to $684 million. The final figure will depend on whether the federal government continues to pay for some state Medicaid programs.[4]

North Carolina State Senate (2004 - 2008)

Cowell was first elected to the North Carolina State Senate in 2004 and won re-election in 2006. While serving, she "worked on bills to promote energy efficiency in state buildings and pursue data integration in state government."[3]

Raleigh City Council (2001 - 2004)

As a city council member, Cowell voted to open Fayetteville Street and build a new convention center.[3]



Cowell is considered to be a potential Democratic candidate for North Carolina's U.S. Senate seat in 2016.[5] The seat is currently held by Sen. Richard Burr (R). As of December 2014, Cowell had not said whether or not she was considering a run, but Public Policy Polling included her in their first poll matching up Burr against potential challengers.[6]

Potential match-up: Richard Burr vs. Janet Cowell
Poll Richard Burr (R) Janet Cowell (D)Not sureMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
December 4-7, 2014
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org


See also: North Carolina down ballot state executive elections, 2012

Cowell won re-election as North Carolina Treasurer in 2012.[7] She defeated Ron Elmer in the May 8 Democratic primary.[8] Cowell defeated Steve Royal in the general election on November 6, 2012.

North Carolina Treasurer General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJanet Cowell Incumbent 53.8% 2,313,877
     Republican Steve Royal 46.2% 1,984,827
Total Votes 4,298,704
Election Results via NC State Board of Elections.

North Carolina Treasurer, Democratic Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngJanet Cowell Incumbent 76.6% 630,151
Ron Elmer 23.4% 192,134
Total Votes 822,285
Election Results via The North Carolina Board of Elections.


  • Equality NC Action Fund[9]
  • Independent Weekly[10]
  • Charlotte Observer[11]


Cowell won election as state treasurer in the November 2008 election, defeating Republican Bill Daughtridge.[12]

North Carolina State Treasurer, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJanet Cowell 53.6% 2,179,665
     Republican Bill Daughtridge 46.4% 1,885,724
Total Votes 4,065,389
Election Results via North Carolina State Board of Elections

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Cowell is available dating back to 2004. Based on available campaign finance records, Cowell raised a total of $3,246,119 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 20, 2013.[13]

Janet Cowell's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 NC Treasurer Won $1,095,840
2010 NC Treasurer Not up for election $135,466
2008 NC Treasurer Won $1,749,048
2006 NC State Senate Won $54,798
2004 NC State Senate Won $210,967
Grand Total Raised $3,246,119


Cowell won re-election to the position of North Carolina Treasurer in 2012. During that election cycle, Cowell raised a total of $1,095,840.


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Janet Cowell's donors each year.[14] Click [show] for more information.

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Political offices
Preceded by
Richard H. Moore (D)
North Carolina State Treasurer
Succeeded by