Wild night in NC voting: Surprises, tight races abound

ByThe Associated Press WTVD logo
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Ropy Cooper claimed victory in an incredibly tight race with Gov. Pat McCrory, but it may not be over yet.
Roy Cooper claimed victory in an incredibly tight race with Gov. Pat McCrory, but it may not be over yet.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Nowhere was the nation's election-year schism more apparent than in North Carolina, where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton bombarded the state with campaign appearances in recent months.

Many voters say they felt the need to make their vote count despite misgivings about the choices on either end of the political spectrum.

"I wasn't comfortable with either candidate, but I'm more for Hillary than for Trump," said Onika Smitherman, a Democrat who voted Tuesday at a busy Durham polling place where cars spilled out of the paved parking lot onto a grassy field.

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Registered Republican Melanie Green cast her ballot for Trump, Gov. Pat McCrory and Sen. Richard Burr. But she didn't feel as excited as she did four years ago, when she hoped McCrory's election, along with GOP control of the legislature, would cause more of an economic boost.

The differing opinions illustrate what has made North Carolina something of a political enigma - and also a key presidential battleground. Growing cities such as Charlotte and Raleigh contain troves of Democratic voters, while vast rural swaths are conservative. A 2012 Census analysis found that only Texas had more rural residents.

Democrats represent about 40 percent of the state's 6.9 million registered voters, while Republicans and independents are about 30 percent each. But the state has voted reliably for Republican presidential candidates since 1980, with the exception of Barack Obama's 2008 victory. Meanwhile, Republicans have controlled the General Assembly since 2010 and are expected to retain majorities.


Republican Donald Trump has won a key victory in the Southern battleground state of North Carolina, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the state's presidential election.

Trump defeated Clinton on Tuesday in a general election that was widely seen as a referendum on several years of GOP control under Gov. Pat McCrory. It also was strongly influenced by a law limiting LGBT rights that was signed and defended by McCrory.

North Carolina's 15 electoral votes are considered crucial in the battle for the White House. The state has gone to a Democrat only once since Jimmy Carter's election in 1976, when Barack Obama narrowly won the state in 2008.

Trump and running mate Mike Pence frequently visited North Carolina in recent months, targeting rural areas where they enjoyed strong support.


North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, locked in a tight race with Democrat Roy Cooper, told supporters that the election isn't over and that they need to respect the election system.

McCrory came out after midnight to talk to supporters; the latest figures show he trails Cooper by about 4,800 votes.

The governor also alluded to voting troubles in Durham County, where a computer glitch led to extended voting hours. McCrory had appeared to be ahead late Tuesday. But that was before the results of ballots at five early-voting sites in Durham County had been reported to the state, according to State Board of Elections official Veronica Degraffenreid.

McCrory said the final result will depend on the county canvasses scheduled for Nov. 18.


Incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Burr has held off a challenge from Democrat Deborah Ross to retain his seat.

Burr repeatedly attacked Ross for her work as the former top attorney and lobbyist for the state American Civil Liberties Union in his bid for a third term.


Throughout her campaign, Ross tied the Republican senator to Donald Trump and to state GOP policies such as the law limiting protections for LGBT people.

Tuesday's race was considered critical for Democrats trying to regain control of the Senate. Ross was initially not well-known outside Raleigh, but outside money poured in as national Democrats increasingly saw Burr as vulnerable.


Republican Dale Folwell is set to become North Carolina's next treasurer.

Democrat Dan Blue III also had been vying to replace two-term Democrat Janet Cowell.

Folwell, a former state representative, had served in Gov. Pat McCrory's administration as head of the state's unemployment benefits office and had previously run for treasurer and lieutenant governor.

Cowell had endorsed Blue, calling him a leader who will protect retirement and health benefits for government and public employees and who is knowledgeable about issues facing the state. Blue is the Wake County Democratic Party's former chairman.

The treasurer's primary job is overseeing and investing public employee pension funds for more than 900,000 North Carolina teachers, state employees, firefighters, police officers and others. The funds are valued at about $87 billion.


Republican Mark Johnson has defeated three-term Democratic incumbent June Atkinson to become North Carolina's next superintendent of public instruction.

Atkinson has served in the office since 2005.

The superintendent is the head of the state's education bureaucracy. The post has virtually no power or management duties and chiefly serves as the top cheerleader for the state's public schools.

Johnson is a lawyer and a member of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth Board of Education. He argued during the campaign that the department of public instruction needed to be reformed.


Democrats have taken a majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan on Tuesday defeated Associate Justice Bob Edmunds, who was seeking a third term. While Supreme Court races are officially nonpartisan, Morgan's election means four of the seven justices will be registered Democrats.

Morgan campaigned on his trial court experience and argued Edmunds had contributed to the Supreme Court's politicization. The Republican majority recently upheld GOP laws creating redistricting boundaries and allowing taxpayer-funded scholarships for children to attend private schools.

Edmunds disagreed with Morgan about the court's political tone and highlighted his bipartisan support from former chief justices and current sheriffs.

Outside groups spent millions on TV ads for the election.


Democrat Elaine Marshall has won a sixth term as North Carolina's secretary of state.

Marshall had been challenged by Republican Michael LaPaglia of Durham.

Marshall has led the department for 20 years and was the first woman elected to a statewide office. The job's duties include enforcing ethics rules, overseeing legislative lobbyists and investigating securities fraud.

LaPaglia owns a consulting company that advises museums and historic sites.


Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has beaten Democratic challenger Linda Coleman.

The election was a rematch of 2012, when Forest narrowly topped Coleman by nearly 7,000 votes out of 4.4 million ballots cast.

Forest has become one of the state's most outspoken advocates for conservative social issues. He also has been a leader in defending a state law that requires transgender people to use restrooms in schools and state government buildings that correspond to the gender on their birth certificates.

Coleman had aligned herself with the Democratic Party's candidate for governor, Attorney General Roy Cooper, and argued the law was hurting the state's economy and its reputation.



U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield has won re-election in North Carolina's 1st Congressional District.

The Wilson Democrat and current chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus earned a seventh two-year term Tuesday, easily defeating Republican H. Powell Dew, a Stantonsburg council member, and Libertarian J.J. Summerell.

Butterfield is a former state Supreme Court justice first elected to Congress in 2004. The caucus chairmanship has raised his profile nationally and in North Carolina. He's been a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and spoke out on issues of race, including the shooting of a black man by a Charlotte police officer in September.

The 1st District covers all or parts of 14 eastern North Carolina counties, stretching from Durham to points east, bringing in parts of Greenville, Goldsboro and New Bern.


Republican U.S. Rep. George Holding has captured a third term in Congress.

The Raleigh attorney and former federal prosecutor defeated Democrat John McNeill, a military veteran and law firm and mediation service owner.

Holding had been representing the 13th District since 2013, but North Carolina congressional maps redrawn last February put him in the same district as longtime U.S. Rep. David Price.

So Holding instead ran for the retooled 2nd District that contained much of his old eastern Piedmont district, including the Triangle. He defeated current 2nd District Rep. Renee Ellmers and Greg Brannon in an expensive GOP primary in June.

Holding's campaign had a large financial advantage over McNeill this fall.


Veteran U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr. is going back to Washington to represent eastern and coastal north Carolina.

The Farmville Republican easily won the 3rd Congressional District election Tuesday over Democrat Ernest Reeves of Greenville. Reeves ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate earlier this year and in 2014.

Jones is a former state legislator who was first elected to Congress 22 years ago. His father also represented the region for 26 years until his death in 1992.

The younger Jones hasn't always seen eye-to-eye with Republican leadership in Congress or in the White House. He spoke out against the Iraq war and has been targeted by GOP primary challengers who accused him of being too liberal.


U.S. Rep. David Price had little trouble winning a 15th term to Congress even after redistricting consolidated his 4th District from eight central North Carolina counties to three in the Triangle.

The Chapel Hill Democrat defeated Republican Sue Googe of Cary on Tuesday by a comfortable margin in the heavily Democratic district.

Price is a former Duke University professor and state Democratic Party executive first elected to Congress in 1986. He's been elected every two years since, except for 1994, when he lost in the general election.

Price serves on the House Appropriations Committee and is the ranking Democrat on its Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee.

The 4th District now includes all of Orange County and parts of Wake and Durham counties.


Republican U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx has won re-election to Congress representing northwestern North Carolina by defeating the same Democratic challenger she beat two years ago.

Foxx earned a seventh term representing the 5th Congressional District on Tuesday, beating 2014 rival Josh Brannon, who is from Watauga County.

Foxx resides in Banner Elk and previously served in the state Senate before her first congressional win in 2004. The former community college administrator has risen through the ranks in the House and is now secretary of the House Republican Conference, or caucus.

The GOP-leaning 5th District covers all or parts of 11 counties, stretching from Winston-Salem west into the foothills and mountains.


The successor to the longest-serving Republican U.S. House member in North Carolina history is starting a streak of his own.

Rep. Mark Walker of Summerfield won his second term Tuesday, defeating Democrat Pete Glidewell in the 6th District covering several counties in the Triad and Sandhills regions.

Walker is a Baptist pastor who succeeded the late Rep. Howard Coble of Greensboro, who retired in 2014 after 30 years in Congress. Walker needed a runoff to win the GOP nomination two years ago.

Walker is considered a reliable conservative vote in the House who has worked on legislation to fight human trafficking.

Glidewell is a former Alamance County Democratic Party chairman.


North Carolina's 7th Congressional District is remaining in Republican hands with a repeat victory for Rep. David Rouzer.

The former state senator from Johnston County won a second term Tuesday, defeating Democrat J. Wesley Casteen of Wilmington. The two met in the 2014 general election when Casteen ran as a Libertarian.

Rouzer narrowly lost to Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre in the 2012 general election. McIntyre chose not to seek re-election in 2014 in the Republican-leaning district. Rouzer was previously a federal lobbyist and aide to U.S. Sens. Jesse Helms and Elizabeth Dole.

The 7th District stretches across nine southeastern North Carolina counties, from Wilmington straddling Interstate 40 north toward the outskirts of the Triangle.


Richard Hudson has won a third term in Congress representing North Carolina's 8th Congressional District.

The Concord Republican defeated Democrat Thomas Mills on Tuesday. Mills lives in Carrboro, outside of the district that stretches from Salisbury to points east and south to Fort Bragg and Fayetteville.

Hudson serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and received national attention in the past year for sponsoring legislation aimed at improving the vetting of refugees from Syria and Iraq.

Hudson ran Pat McCrory's unsuccessful 2008 gubernatorial campaign and previously was chief of staff to a former 8th District congressman, Robin Hayes. Mills worked on political campaigns for more than 20 years and operates a state politics blog.


Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry has been elected to a seventh term in office in North Carolina's 10th Congressional District.

McHenry comfortably defeated Democrat Andy Millard.

McHenry is the chief deputy whip of the House and has been in Congress since 2005.

The 10th District starts just west of Charlotte and stretches across the southwestern part of the state to the mountains. It is predominantly Republican and has been represented by the GOP for more than four decades.


Democrat Alma Adams is returning to Congress for a second term to represent the radically redrawn 12th Congressional District.

Adams defeated Republican Leon Threatt to return to Washington to represent the new district that now covers most of Charlotte.

Adams was first elected in 2014 to represent a district that had been gerrymandered to represent a long, narrow district that stretched from Greensboro to Charlotte along Interstate 85. That district was declared unconstitutional by a federal court and resulted in the congressional district boundaries for the state having to be redrawn earlier this year.

The redrawn 12th District remains heavily Democratic, however.


Political newcomer Ted Budd has defeated Democrat Bruce Davis to become the state's newest member of Congress.

Budd will represent the redrawn 13th Congressional District.

The new district's new lines were drawn when a federal court ordered lawmakers to redraw congressional lines because the old maps were unconstitutional.

Budd is a gun store owner who beat 16 contenders to win the Republican primary. While Davis had previous political experience serving on the Guilford County Commission, Budd went into the election with the advantage of the new district being majority Republican.


Republican Cherie Berry has won her fifth term as North Carolina's labor commissioner, defeating Democrat Charles Meeker.

Berry is perhaps most recognizable as the woman whose name and picture is on every elevator inspection tag in the state.

Meeker is the former mayor of Raleigh and had the backing of the AFL-CIO.

The labor commissioner is responsible for protecting the safety of the state's 4.3 million workers.


Republican Steve Troxler has won a fourth term as the head of North Carolina's Department of Agriculture.

Troxler had been challenged by Democrat Walter Smith in a rematch of the race in 2012.

Troxler is familiar throughout the state's agricultural industry, and the department oversees the state's food safety efforts.

Smith is a farmer from Yadkinville. He retired from the Farm Service Agency, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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