Primaries Tuesday for Congress, Supreme Court

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 6, 2016

Staff and wire reports

Voters go to the polls Tuesday in what has to be one of the state’s most unusual primaries.

Court rulings on congressional district lines and state Supreme Court elections set the stage for the June vote. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Until recently, Rowan County has been split among three congressional districts. Rowan voters will now will be choosing candidates for just two districts — the familiar 8th District and, for the first time, the 13th District. The 13th District features Republican and Democratic Party primaries. The 8th District only features a GOP primary.

It’s the 13th District which has generated the most puzzlement. With no incumbent to dominate the race, the district’s GOP primary attracted 17 candidates, including three people from Rowan County — Kathy Feather, Jason Walser and state Rep. Harry Warren.

Combined with what’s expected to be a low turnout for the unusual primary, the crowded field means a candidate could win with a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes and a razor-thin margin. The primary winner is expected to have a strong chance at winning the general election in the Republican-leaning territory.

“It is basically the Wild West,” said Dr. Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College. “I wouldn’t be surprised if No. 1 and No. 2 are separated by less than 100 votes.”

Bitzer estimated that around 45,000 votes would be cast in the primary by Republicans and unaffiliated voters if there’s a 15 percent turnout — similar to a midterm primary. But the unusual date during the summer makes it hard to predict, and he wouldn’t be surprised if less than 10 percent showed up at the polls.

A runoff primary in July 2012 drew 8 percent turnout in Rowan and just 2.3 percent statewide. Rowan had a runoff in the county commission race that year, in addition to second votes in some statewide offices.

There will be no primary runoffs this year, meaning a candidate could win with far less than half the votes.

“It will be badly splintered,” Bitzer said.

He said it could take as few as 3,000-4,000 total votes to win.

Legislators in race

Helping to boost the crowded field, a one-time change in the law allows candidates to run in the congressional primary while also seeking another elected position this year. They would normally be barred from running in two races.

Among the GOP hopefuls are four state legislators — Warren, Sen. Andrew C. Brock of Davie County and Reps. Julia Howard of Davie and John Blust of Greensboro — who are all on the November ballot for their legislative seats.

If one of them wins the Congressional primary, they will have to decide if they want to run for Congress or the General Assembly. They will not be able to run for both positions in November.

Others with less name recognition have raised enough money to make a serious run. Dan Barrett of Advance, Kay Daly of Mooresville and Ted Budd of Advance have all raised six-figures in campaign funding according to federal filings. Nearly all of Barrett’s money is cash he has loaned to his campaign. A significant portion of Daly’s money comes from a previous bid for Congress in different district.

Budd has also benefited from about a half-million dollars in support from the Washington-based conservative Club for Growth.

The other people seeking the GOP nomination are Chad Gant, Farren Shoaf, George Rouco, Hank Henning, Jim Snyder, Matthew McCall, Vernon Robinson and David Thompson.

Bitzer said the odd shape of the district, which stretches from the western side of Greensboro to the northern edge of the Charlotte metro area, makes television advertising difficult because it covers two media markets. The district includes part or all of Rowan, Davie, Iredell, Davidson and Guilford counties.

Whoever wins will be favored to win the seat in this GOP-leaning seat and will face one of the five Democrats squaring off in their primary. Running on the Democratic side are Adam Coker, Bruce Davis, Bob Isner, Mazie Ferguson and Kevin D. Griffin.

More information about the candidates is available here:

8th District race

Although the 8th District contains a majority of Rowan’s population, its primary has attracted significantly less attention. In the 8th District race, U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson is challenged by Tim D’Annunzio of Raeford. D’Annunzio lost in a GOP runoff in 2010 in the 8th District.

N.C. Supreme Court

There will be one race on every ballot in the state Tuesday. Associate Justice Robert Edmunds faces three challengers — Sabra Jean Faires of Cary, Michael Morgan of Raleigh and Daniel Robertson of Advance — as he seeks re-election.

The legislature passed a law to allow Edmunds to undergo a “retention election” in which he would have run alone. When its constitutionality was challenged, a panel of three trial judges ruled against the law, thus returning the election to a traditional head-to-head race.