Three-term Republican incumbent Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry defeated a former Democratic holder of the office, according to unofficial returns.
Berry cited drops in workplace injury and illness rates during her tenure in her re-election campaign.
Democrat John Brooks contended the numbers were misleading, and promised to hire more investigators.
Brooks held the office for four terms until losing to a fellow Democrat in the 1992 primary after a chicken factory fire in 1991 in Hamlet killed 25 people.
Workers were trapped in the factory by blocked or locked doors.