The only two statewide elected officials to face primary challengers easily won their respective party nominations Tuesday, boasting healthy margins in preliminary vote totals.
State Treasurer Janet Cowell had a roughly three-to-one advantage against Democratic rival Ron Elmer, according to early results, and Republican Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler held a more than two-to-one lead in a contest with Bill McManus.
Cowell will likely face Republican Steve Royal, who held a double-digit lead against Frank Roche, a Cary stock trader and conservative radio host, in the GOP primary for treasurer.
In the Democratic primary for agriculture commissioner, Yadkinville poultry farmer Walter Smith had a 10-point cushion, against Scott Bryant, a Siler City cattle and grain farmer, preliminary results showed.
Throughout the campaign season, Cowell, 43, and Troxler, 60, held big leads in the polls. But an intra-party rival forced each to answer tough questions well before the November election season.
Elmer blasted Cowell for the performance of the state’s investment fund, a critique that Royal likely will renew in coming months.
Troxler found himself on the defensive against McManus concerning an E. coli outbreak at the State Fair last year. He said the state did all it could to prevent contamination. His new opponent, Smith worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is emphasizing his ability to work with federal officials to help the state’s farmers.