Few surprises, maybe some recounts in NC legislative primaries

Jimmie Massengill
Jimmie Massengill

Three state House primary races are so tight after Tuesday’s voting that the losers may have the authority to request recounts after the votes are canvassed.

In the Democratic primary in House District 28, which includes parts of Johnston County, Patricia Oliver leads Jimmie Massengill by 44 votes out of more than 6,000 cast, within the 1 percent threshold required to call for a recount. The winner will face Republican Larry Strickland in November.

[Look up all the results from the NC primary]

Two other tight primaries are in the Charlotte area.

In House District 92, Rep. Charles Jeter, a Huntersville Republican, leads Tom Davis by 38 votes. Both candidates say they’ll call for a recount if they trail after the canvass next Wednesday. The winner will face Democrat Chaz Beasley in November.

Among Democrats in House District 103, also in Mecklenburg County, Rochelle Rivas leads Noah Lieberman by 10 votes out of nearly 6,500. The winner gets GOP Rep. Bill Brawley in November.

Elsewhere in the legislative primaries:


Sixteen candidates were all but elected to the 120-member House because they face no opposition in November, including five new faces.

According to unofficial results, at least two House incumbents lost; one was Rep. Ralph Johnson, D-Guilford, who died on primary day after a recent stroke. Amos Quick, a Baptist pastor and Guilford County school board member, won that primary.

Destin Hall, a Republican attorney from Caldwell County, defeated Rep. George Robinson of Lenoir, who had been appointed to the District 87 seat in early 2015 after former Rep. Edgar Starnes resigned.

Neither Quick nor Hall faces opposition in the fall.

Another newcomer who is unopposed this fall is Republican Holly Grange of New Hanover County, who defeated Tammy Covil for the seat vacated by Rep. Rick Catlin, R-New Hanover. Grange is a businesswoman and Realtor who serves on the N.C. State Ports Authority Board of Directors.

Also, Democrat Terry Garrison, a Vance County commissioner and real estate company owner, will not face a GOP opponent and has won the seat being vacated by Rep. Nathan Baskerville, D-Vance. John Autry, a Democrat and Charlotte City Council member, will take the seat of Rep. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg, who didn’t run.

Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly, a four-term incumbent, narrowly fended off a challenge from Lane Burris. Unofficial results showed Burr winning by 242 votes. Burr, a critic of the House Republican leadership, particularly Speaker Tim Moore, had been attacked in mailers paid for by outside groups. The N.C. Chamber also spent money on mailers supporting Burris. “I’m ecstatic,” Burr said early Wednesday. “It’s a close victory, but it’s a victory.”

House Rules Chairman Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, and Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, a top House budget writer, turned back challengers. Lewis will face Democrat Jon Blum in November. Dollar faces Jennifer Ferrell, who won a Democratic primary in District 36, and Libertarian Brian Irving.


State Senate primaries offered few surprises; no incumbents lost, and favorites won in many contested districts. Most members weren’t opposed. The four Democratic and three Republican incumbents who drew challengers appeared to win.

Most of the closely watched Senate primaries were for seats being vacated. Outgoing Republican senators are Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville, Fletcher Hartsell of Concord, Dan Soucek of Boone, Stan Bingham of Denton and Buck Newton of Wilson. Newton won a GOP primary for attorney general, and the others are retiring.

In Hartsell’s district, Paul Newton, who retired last year as state president at Duke Energy, turned back Scott Aumuller, a Concord anesthesiologist. Newton was backed by N.C. Chamber mailers.

“We have got to continue focusing on growing our economy, on the well-being of our communities,” he said in a recent interview.

Newton will face Democrat Robert Brown, who won his party’s primary in District 36.

In Senate District 48, Apodaca’s district out west, McDonald’s franchise owner Chuck Edwards defeated two other Republicans. Also backed by the N.C. Chamber, Edwards will face Democrat Norman Bossert in November.

Gannon: pgannon@ncinsider.com