RALEIGH — Though election night might not seem that long ago, at least two candidates have officially said they plan to run in North Carolina’s 2016 governor’s race.

“It is early, unless you are a Democrat and you want to be governor,” said Steven Greene with N.C. State University.

This week, former state lawmaker and Democrat Kenneth Spaulding said he’s in for 2016.

In a statement Spaulding said: “The taxpayers and voters are looking for a reasonable alternative to the extremist positions and actions taken by the governor and his legislative majority.”

Attorney General Roy Cooper, also a Democrat, is not ready to officially throw his hat in the ring, but his talking points certainly have the ring of a future candidate.

“I am talking to people,” Cooper said. “I am very concerned about the direction of our state. I’m very concerned when we put into place tax cuts for corporations or the wealthy when we very much needed investments in education and law enforcement.”

And not to over-crowd the Democratic field, James Protzman also has his campaign website up and running. He is former Chapel Hill councilman who says North Carolina is on the verge of losing its business edge and its imperative to get it back.

So why all the interest so soon? Greene says it might be a good strategy.

“The point is there is a lot of Democratic energy right now,” said Greene. “Pat McCrory looks weak right now. And so for those who are aiming toward 2016, I think the feeling is why not jump in right now, take advantage of that energy, hopefully get a head start, a jump start on the competitors in terms of getting endorsements, raising money, etc.”

According to the most recent poll by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling, 39 percent of North Carolinians approve of the job being done by Gov. Pat McCrory while 51 percent disapprove.

– Loretta Boniti