While high-profile races in the 2nd and 12th congressional districts got much of the attention in the June 7 primary, in the newly reconfigured 13th District an outsider, Republican Ted Budd, was able to defeat three sitting state legislators for a chance to take on Democrat Bruce Davis in the General Election.
Budd collected more than 6,000 votes in the primary, beating out state Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford), who came in second, state Rep. Julia Howard (R-Davie), who came in fourth, and state Sen. Andrew Brock (R-Davie), who came in sixth.
Budd’s victory over the field of 17 candidates was a combination of his ties to politics in that part of the state, providing him with the funding he needed to mount a campaign, plus his status as someone who has never run for office, according to Susan Myrick, elections analyst for the Civitas Institute.
Myrick spoke during the “What Matters in North Carolina” radio show following the election.
With the rise of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s popularity as an outsider coming into government, candidates without political office experience are finding more support than in past years.
“Ted Budd won the 13th District congressional race with 17 people running,” she said. “It didn’t take much, a little over 6,000 votes (20 percent), and the next highest vote-getter was Rep. John Blust with 3,000 votes (10.4 percent).”
Budd was able to pull 20 percent of the vote among the crowded field.
“He’s [from] Davie County, he comes from a pretty influential political family in Winston-Salem and Davie County, so it appears people know him in the 13th Dstrict,” she said.
Budd ran a lot of ads in the district painting him as the down-to-earth candidate running for office for the first time, showing him as the anti-establishment outsider trying to do his part, which is resonating this political season.
He was able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to run campaign advertisements in the district, giving him stronger name recognition than other candidates, even, it appears, well-liked state lawmakers from the area.
“Money talks when it comes to politics. A lot of people don’t want to admit that.” Budd raised nearly $1 million and had a strong financial backer in the Club for Growth. The super PAC spent nearly $500,000 in ads supporting him.
In other races, Republican Rep. George Holding ousted Rep. Renee Ellmers in the redrawn District 2. Holding had filed to run in District 2 against Ellmers, that district’s incumbent, after his district was moved to Mecklenburg County during redistricting, leaving the field open without a true incumbent to overcome to gain the nomination. The new District 2 included much of Holding’s previous district.
Holding took 53 percent of the vote, showing the dissatisfaction with Ellmers among voters who voted her into office for the first time just five years ago. Ellmers gathered 25 percent of the vote, and Tea Party hopeful Greg Brannon took 24 percent.
Five Democrats were competing in the 2nd District. John McNeil, a Raleigh lawyer, won convincingly with 46 percent of the vote.
In District 12, Rep. Alma Adams was able to beat back Democratic challengers after Greensboro, her longtime home, was left out of North Carolina’s redrawn 12th. She did lease a condo in the new boundaries of her district, but some question whether she actually resides there. Federal candidates are not required to live in the congressional district they run in. Adams did battle with six other Democrats and managed to draw 42 percent of the vote. She will run against Republican Leon Threatt, a Charlotte pastor, in the General Election.
In District 9, at press time, Rep. Robert Pittenger was ahead of primary challenger Mark Harris, a Charlotte pastor and a former local elected official, but will have to wait for a recount to get an official ruling after the election came down to less than 150 votes. Unofficial results showed Pittenger with a 142-vote lead. Former Union County Commissioner Todd Johnson was about 1,200 votes back. The winner will take on Democrat Christian Cano in November.
The two races on the June 7 ballot came about after two separate court decisions. The congressional primary became necessary when a federal court’s ruling forced the legislature to draw new congressional districts. The legislature submitted those maps on February 17, two days before the deadline. At that time, however, the March primary ballots had been printed and voters were already voting by mail, necessitating the June 7 vote.
The state Supreme Court seat was originally set to be a retention election. However, a state court ruled that violated the North Carolina constitution, forcing the second primary.
High court election
In the state Supreme Court race, sitting Justice Bob Edmunds will take on Michael Morgan, a Wake County Superior Court judge, in the General Election.
Edmunds took 48 percent of the vote in the June special election, while Morgan garnered 34 percent.
The other two candidates were attorneys without judicial experience.
Low turnout statewide plagued second primary
Unofficial results from the State Board of Elections showed that more than 505,000 people cast ballots, which is only about 7.7 percent of the nearly 6.6 million registered voters in the state.
Comparing the second primary with other primary turnouts is a difficult proposition, because the June 7 election is so unusual. However, in the first primary of the year in March, 2.3 million votes were cast, and in 2012 nearly 2.2 million votes were cast.