NC Senate: Republicans win Wake, oust Berger

jshaffer@newsobserver.comNovember 6, 2012 

  • Results District 11 Clarence A. Bender→  37.71% Buck Newton→  62.29% (2 of 3 counties reporting) District 12 Ronald Rabin→  48.95% Brad Salmon→  51.05% (2 of 3 counties reporting) District 15 Neal Hunt→  55.09% Sig Hutchinson→  44.91% (57 of 57 precincts reporting) District 17 Tamara Barringer→  53.38% Erv Portman→  46.62% (41 of 41 precincts reporting) District 18 Chad Barefoot→  58.01% Doug Berger→  41.99% (37 of 37 precincts reporting) District 22 Milton Holmes→  34.52% Mike Woodard→  65.48% (3 of 3 counties reporting) District 23 Dave Carter→  33.05% Ellie Kinnaird→  66.95% (2 of 2 precincts reporting)
  • More information Running unopposed Brent Jackson, Republican, District 10 Dan Blue, Democrat, District 14 Josh Stein, Democrat, District 16 Floyd B. McKissick Jr., Democrat, District 20

— Republicans in Wake County cruised to easy victory in their state Senate races Tuesday, knocking off incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Berger.

In three Wake County districts, Sen. Neal Hunt, Tamara Barringer and Chad Barefoot all won by wide margins.

“We were running on lower taxes, a priority or student achievement in education and reforming regulation,” said Barefoot, who beat Berger with 58.01 percent of the vote. “It seems like voters agreed with them.”

Republican Sen. Buck Newton led in Johnston County. Democrat Mike Woodard won handily in Durham County, while incumbent Democrat Ellie Kinnaird sailed to another term in Orange County.

“I am so lucky,” she said, “because I have the most wonderful district of people, whose values I value and whose goals and aspirations are so important.”

In newly drawn District 18, Barefoot took the seat in hard-fought race, where incumbent Berger ran facing much new territory in eastern Wake county.

Berger, a state senator from Youngsville since 2005, ran his campaign on the promise of keeping the state’s public schools, community colleges and universities healthy for job growth. He called his opponent a right-wing extremist.

Barefoot, a policy adviser to House Majority Leader Paul “Skip” Stam, stressed reducing North Carolina’s tax rates and controlling state spending. In a TV ad, he portrayed his opponent as a “silly liberal.”

Berger ran as an unknown figure in much of his redrawn district, introducing himself to constituents in a portion of Wake County stretching from Wake Forest to Fuquay-Varina. That left Barefoot in a position to outspend his rival. He raised $916,000 by mid-October – more than three times his rival’s total.

In District 15, Hunt beat Democratic opponent Sig Hutchinson by taking 55.09 percent of the vote.

Hunt, a state senator from North Raleigh since 2004, has served as co-chair of the Appropriations Committee and the Wake Legislative Delegation. He campaigned on a message of fiscal responsibility.Hutchinson owns a sales and communications firm in Raleigh, and has worked to pass bond issues for open space, parks, greenways and affordable housing. He hoped the state would continue investing in transportation, research and technology, and he supported a half-cent sales tax to help fund public transit.

Hunt raised more than four times as much money as his challenger, and he benefited from $65,000 worth of advertising bought by the pro-business outside group Real Jobs N.C.

The campaign focused heavily on issues related to jobs and the environment. The state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources was also a hot topic.

“North Carolinians are really interested in jobs and giving opportunity to business to create more jobs,” Hunt said.

In District 17, Barringer outpolled Democrat Erv Portman with 58.38 percent of the vote. One of the state’s most competitive districts, it was left open by the resignation of Sen. Richard Stevens.

“I’m very humbled,” Barringer said. “My priorities are, as they always have been, education and the economy.”

Barringer, a Cary attorney and adjunct professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, campaigned on a pledge to tackle rampant government spending.

Portman, a Wake County Commissioner whose term ends in December, touted his experience building a high-tech company in Holly Springs. He attributed his loss to smear tactics and the influence of special interest money.

Johnston County saw two races.

Incumbent Republican Buck Newton led Democratic challenger and Castalia Town Commissioner Clarence Bender in District 11. He had 62.29 percent of the vote in early results.

Also, Republican Ronald Rabin faced Democrat Brad Salmon in District 12, which catches the western edge of Johnston County. Salmon started strong in that contest with 55.25 percent of ballots in early returns.

Kinnaird has served in the state Senate since 1997. She faced Republican Dave Carter from Hillsborough and won with 66.95 percent.

Democrat and Durham Councilman Mike Woodard faced Republican lawyer Milton Holmes of Chapel Hill in District 22. Woodard’s lead finished at 65.48 percent Tuesday.

Staff writers Colin Campbell, Andy Kenney and Jane Stancill contributed to this report.

Shaffer: 919-829-4818

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