RALEIGH — More than three weeks after the election, U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre finally locked up victory Wednesday, as a recount solidified his slim lead over state Sen. David Rouzer for the congressional seat he has held for 16 years.
McIntyre lost one vote in the recount, bringing the revised split to 168,695 for McIntyre and 168,041 for Rouzer a difference of 654.
I am very grateful to have the honor of serving the citizens of Eastern North Carolina, McIntyre said in a news release Wednesday night. My commitment has always been to serve the people back home. I have always sought to bring people together Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to do whats best for our area.
Rouzer conceded Wednesday night, saying, Now that the recount has been completed and the tally of votes is official, we can move forward satisfied that each vote was counted properly and accurately. I have called Congressman McIntyre to congratulate him on a hard-fought victory, and I wish him well as he joins a new Congress that will be dealing with very difficult issues facing our country.
Rouzer had called for a recount after tally of provisional votes gave McIntyre a 655-vote lead in the 7th Congressional District, where nearly 337,000 people cast ballots in 12 counties stretching from the Triangle to the coast.
McIntyres re-election was a win for the diminishing blue dog coalition made up of moderate to conservative Democrats in Congress.
But he was the only one of the states blue dogs to survive, and the election shifted North Carolinas congressional delegation from its current 7-6 split that gave Democrats the edge to a new 9-4 Republican split.
An expensive campaign
Rouzers loss was also a defeat for national and state Republican organizations.
The Republican majority in the state legislature carved up McIntyres longtime district to create one more favorable to a GOP candidate. The district included Rouzers home county but not the incumbents base in Lumberton and Fayetteville. Wilmington was also left out of the mix.
The ensuing campaign drew about $9 million in financial support from both parties and national organizations, making it one of the most expensive House races in the country.
TV ads promoting Rouzer portrayed McIntyre as a close ally of liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama. McIntyre tried to outflank Rouzer on the right, saying Rouzer was soft on immigration control.
Considering the extent of outside interests involved, it wasnt surprising that Rouzer called for a recount.
Eleven of the 12 counties completed their recounts Monday and Tuesday. Duplin County ran its recount of more than 20,000 ballots from Wednesday morning into the evening.
Rouzer had 24 hours to request a hand-eye count, but he chose not to.
In a statement Wednesday night, he said he was setting aside thoughts of his political future to focus on his business and spending time with family on his farm.
Rouzer had said that he felt compelled to call for the machine recount because it was not only the last House race to be decided in the country but also the closest. He said it was important to make sure that human error not affect the outcome, noting an election night glitch in Bladen County had mistakenly given McIntyre about 100 extra votes. The mistake was caught and corrected the following day.
The cost of the recount is estimated at more than $50,000. Hand-eye recounts would have added another $150,000.
In another outstanding election, state Rep. Bill Cook on Wednesday called on the state Board of Elections to declare him the winner in coastal Senate District 1, where a recount gave him a 21-vote victory over incumbent Sen. Stan White. But White has requested a hand-eye count.
Bartlett said that will begin in Pasquotank County on Friday afternoon, and in the other counties on Monday or Tuesday. A random sampling of 3 percent of the ballots will be counted; if those results can be extrapolated to indicate the outcome would change, then the state board can order a hand-eye count for the rest of the ballots.
One other close election also wrapped up Wednesday, when the deadline passed for District Court Judge S. Quon Bridges to ask for a hand-eye count. Challenger Amanda Stevenson won the Nov. 6 count and the recount by about 300 votes. The judgeship covers Franklin, Granville and Vance counties.