Kelly Daughtry drops out of Republican run-off primary election against Brad Knott

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Thursday, May 2, 2024
Kelly Daughtry drops out of Republican run-off primary election for NC-13 congressional race against Brad Knott
Kelly Daughtry dropped out of the Republican run-off primary election against Brad Knott for North Carolina's 13th Congressional District

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- What was expected to be a heated run-off primary election shockingly saw one of the candidates drop out Thursday.

"The time has now come to suspend my campaign. Although I will no longer be a candidate, I will not stop using my voice for the things I believe in. I will focus on conservative voter registration operations and supporting the nominated conservative judicial candidates running in November," Kelly Daughtry said in a statement posted to her social media channels.

Daughtry was one of 14 Republicans who jumped in to run for Congress in the newly drawn 13th District. That district was targeted by the GOP legislature during redistricting; it was redrawn to heavily favor Republicans, causing incumbent Democrat Wiley Nickel to decide not to run for re-election.

The crowded primary field resulted in no candidate getting a high enough percentage of the vote in the March primary.

Daughtry, a Smithfield lawyer who comes from a prominent North Carolina political family, received 7,000 more votes than the second-place finisher, Raleigh-based former federal prosecutor Brad Knott, who left his job to run for office as a first-time candidate.

Kelly's announcement doesn't mean she is no longer an official candidate. And her name won't be removed from the ballot - it's too late for that. Early in-person voting for the runoff continues through May 11, and traditional absentee balloting has been going on for weeks.

Knott accepted Daughtry's endorsement in his own statement but cautioned supporters who believed he was now the primary winner. Daughtry, the daughter of former state legislative leader Leo Daughtry, ran unsuccessfully for a congressional seat in 2022.

"While Kelly has ended her campaign, this election is not over," Knott said. "I strongly encourage my supporters to get out and vote on May 14."

The NCGOP gave full-throated approval to Knott while also praising Daughtry for putting values and party over personal gain.

"Congratulations to Brad Knott! He will be an outstanding Congressman for the 13th Congressional District fighting to secure our Southern border and strengthen our economy," said NCGOP Chairman Jason Simmons. "We look forward to working with Brad to ensure he is victorious in November. Kelly has run a strong campaign rooted in her conservatism. Her decision is one that puts her values and her party above her own personal gain. Her continued involvement will ensure Republicans win up and down the ballot in November."

The two candidates have been running non-stop political ads, each trying to position themselves as the more Trump-like candidate and their opponent as a liberal posing as a conservative.

Knott touted endorsements from top Republicans, including Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Budd.

In a statement, Budd wrote: "I'm endorsing Brad Knott because of his character and commitment to the America First agenda. Brad is a solid conservative who will fight for a strong nation and stronger

families. As a prosecutor, he knows the consequences of Joe Biden's open border, and he's made our communities safer by locking up gang leaders, drug cartels, and illegal immigrants. Brad is a committed dad and husband who will stand strong against the woke left. He is the leader we can trust to stand with President Trump to drain the swamp."

With Daughtry no longer in the race, it appears Knott will face the Democratic nominee Frank Pierce in November.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.