Under the Dome

NC Tea Party group favors Cruz, Carson

US Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks before a luncheon of the John Locke Foundation at the North Raleigh Hilton on April 13.
US Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks before a luncheon of the John Locke Foundation at the North Raleigh Hilton on April 13. hlynch@newsobserver.com

Members of the North Carolina TEA Party Constitutional Caucus overwhelmingly favor Sen. Ted Cruz and neurosurgeon Ben Carson for the Republican presidential nomination, according to a poll conducted Saturday.

Nearly 800 people voted in the poll at nine locations from the Outer Banks to Asheville. About 50 percent of them backed Cruz as their top GOP candidate, while 42 percent picked Carson.

The TEA Party Constitutional Caucus held the vote to identify a single candidate to unite behind in the primary because North Carolina is a “winner take all” state where the top candidate will receive all of the state’s primary delegates.

If Tea Party supporters split up, the group’s news release says, “we run the risk of being stuck with a compromised, progressive candidate.”

The Tea Party voters had little interest in the other Republican candidates, with Donald Trump coming in a distant third place with 4 percent. Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio only got a few votes each.

Several other Republican candidates, including Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie and Rick Santorum, aren’t listed in the poll results released Monday. To appear on Saturday’s ballot, candidates needed to have supporters nominate and second them at the caucus event.

Caucus members also weren’t fans of Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr. The poll pitted Burr against several other Republicans such as Congressman Mark Meadows and former Senate candidate Greg Brannon.

Only one of 290 voters picked Burr. About 58 percent picked Larry Holmquist, a little-known Greensboro businessman who’s announced he’s challenging Burr in the GOP primary as “North Carolina’s true conservative.”

While neither Meadows or Brannon are running against Burr, 37 percent of voters in the poll picked Brannon, with 4 percent choosing Meadows.

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