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Kenn Gardner

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Kenn Gardner
Kenn Gardner.jpg
Secretary of State of North Carolina
Former Candidate
Prior offices
Wake County Commissioner
Bachelor'sGeorgia Tech (1980)
Master'sCentral Michigan University (1981), Georgia Institute of Technology (1983)
Date of birthJune 16, 1958
Personal website
Campaign website
Kenn Gardner (b. June 16, 1958) is a former Wake County Commissioner, and was a Republican candidate in the 2012 election for North Carolina Secretary of State.



  • B.S. Georgia Tech (1980)
  • M.A., Central Michigan University (1981)
  • Master's in Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology (1983)

Political career

Wake County Commissioner 2000-2008

Gardner served eight years in the elected position of Wake County Commissioner. In this role, he oversaw the successful expansion of the local economy by facilitating the creation of thousands of jobs and arrival of global corporations. As commissioner, Gardner helped bring in a reported $320 million in investments.[1]

The architect ignited a brief controversy when he allegedly exploited his position as commissioner by pushing for the establishment of a local aquatics center while simultaneously pursuing the design contract for himself.[2]



See also: North Carolina secretary of state election, 2012

  • Primary Runoff- July 17, 2012 Republican primary runoff

Gardner was defeated by Ed Goodwin in the primary runoff contest on July 17, 2012, earning 45.5% of the vote. of the party's vote. Goodwin lost to incumbent Elaine Marshall (D) in the general election on November 6, 2012.[3]

North Carolina Secretary of State - Republican Primary Runoff, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngEd Goodwin 54.5% 74,252
Kenn Gardner 45.5% 62,044
Total Votes 136,296
Election Results via The North Carolina Board of Elections.

  • Primary- May 8, 2012, Republican primary race for secretary of state

Gardner faced three opponents in the Republican Primary election for North Carolina Secretary of State on May 8, 2012: Mike Beitler, Ed Goodwin, and AJ Daoud. He finished second, behind Goodwin. According to a new North Carolina law, a single candidate must receive 40% of the primary vote to secure the party's nomination. Since no candidate reached that threshold on May 8, the top two vote-getters - Gardner and Goodwin - had to compete in a runoff election on July 17 to determine who would go on to challenge incumbent Elaine Marshall (D) in the general election.[4]

North Carolina Secretary of State Republican Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngEd Goodwin 35.9% 246,641
Green check mark transparent.pngKenn Gardner 29.8% 204,630
Mike Beitler 24.2% 166,061
AJ Daoud 10% 68,834
Total Votes 686,166
Election Results via The North Carolina Board of Elections.


As his top priorities for the office, Gardner cited "the promotion of the community college system and improving the agency’s website," as well as job creation. To achieve the latter, he proposed expanding the role of the office to allow the secretary of state to that of an ambassador who draws companies into North Carolina.[2]


On June 7, 2012, one month after being eliminated from the Republican primary race, former candidate Mike Beitler endorsed Gardner for the runoff election. In Beitler's statement of endorsement released on Gardner's campaign facebook page, he invited North Carolina's Republican voters to join him in supporting Gardner over fellow runoff Republican Ed Goodwin. “Kenn is the clear choice, with a record of creating jobs in Wake County and reducing government spending he is a strong business advocate for our state,” Beitler wrote of his one-time opponent.[5]

Gardner was also endorsed by The Charlotte Observer two days before the runoff election. The publication elaborated that although both he and fellow Republican candidate Ed Goodwin emphasized the need to improve the climate for existing businesses and luring new businesses to North Carolina throughout their campaigns, Gardner's plan "to examine streamlining how the Secretary of State’s office interacts with new businesses, and his history of targeting inefficiencies in public departments as Wake County Commissioner," tilted the scales in his favor.[6]


Gardner lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife Betty. They have three daughters, named Hannah, Amelia, and Rebecca. Gardner is an ordained deacon, and attends Forest Hills Baptist Church.[1]


North Carolina

Citizens For Kenn Gardner
5417 Hunter Hollow Drive
Raleigh, NC 27606

Tel: 919-859-6929

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