North Carolina primary election runoff 2024: Trump-backed Knott among winners

Wednesday, May 15, 2024
North Carolina primary election runoff 2024: Trump-backed Knott among winners
The steady downpour wasn't enough to dissuade voters who showed up at Archer Lodge Community Center in Clayton on Tuesday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The steady downpour wasn't enough to dissuade voters who showed up at Archer Lodge Community Center in Clayton on Tuesday.

"We're American citizens. That's our right. We've got to get the right candidates in there," Paul Jones Jr. said.

"It's your country. You've got to take an interest in running it," Randy Rollyson said.

Both of those voters cited the border as an important issue. Earlier this year, Pew Research Center reported the percentage of Americans citing immigration as a top priority increased by 18% during the Biden presidency.

Outside Archer Lodge, Priya Erpenbeck was canvassing on behalf of candidates.

"I choose to be here. I want to give back to what America has blessed me with. It's a privilege," said Erpenbeck, who immigrated from India and cast her ballot during early voting.

The steady downpour wasn't enough to dissuade voters who showed up at Archer Lodge Community Center in Clayton Tuesday.

The three key races on the ballot Tuesday were for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor and Auditor, and the Republican nomination for the 13th Congressional District. The runoffs are a result of no candidate clearing the 30%-plus-one-vote threshold in the March primary. Only registered Republicans or unaffiliated voters who chose the Republican ballot or did not vote in March are eligible to participate.

State Auditor

Dave Boliek, a lawyer and former chairman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill trustee board, defeated CPA and state legislative staffer Jack Clark in the auditor's primary.

In the Auditor's race two months ago, Clark earned nearly 10,000 more votes than Boliek, though neither candidate was close to securing the nomination.

"I believe these Council of State races are about courage and leadership. I've got the gray hair and the experience of leading large organizations, making tough decisions at the highest level across the state of North Carolina in the face of tough opposition," said Boliek.

"I've got the audit background. I was educated in accounting. I got the CPA license. I spent years as an auditor. I really believe that the State Auditor should have all the experience, should know how to audit because it's a very different skill than business or law," said Clark.

Boliek shared his vision for the role.

"I've also put forth some ideas of some areas that I think the State Auditor ought to audit, including the DMV and taking a look at election integrity and drilling down on what's called NGO's, these non-governmental organizations, to look at how they're spending money and whether they're spending money correctly," said Boliek.

Clark, who works in budget policy in the General Assembly, prefers patience before highlighting any specifics.

"If you don't have all the information, you can't make the best decision. I'm going to focus on leaving every audit better off than I found it. It does no one any good to sweep out fraud and the next people come in and do the same thing. You really want to set up controls and procedures to help North Carolina be the best-run state in the country," Clark said.

Boliek will face Democratic candidate Jessica Holmes and Libertarian candidate Bob Drach in the general election. Last year, State Auditor Beth Wood resigned, and Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Holmes, the former Wake County Commission Chair, to replace her. She is the first Black woman to serve on the Council of State.


In NC-13, Kelly Daughtry won the most votes in March, running nearly 9% ahead of second-place finisher Brad Knott. However, earlier this month, Daughtry announced she was dropping out of the race, following former President Donald Trump's endorsement of Knott.

"There are a lot of very significant and deep problems all over this district and the state and the country. This campaign has been about really trying to address those with common-sense conservative ideas," said Knott.

Despite her decision to no longer seek the nomination, Daughtry remained on the ballot.

"We pulled some of the ads off and reworked them. But we've stayed on the air, on the radio. We've knocked on hundreds of doors this last week if not thousands. Sent out mails, robocalls, full throttle, trying to run strong through the tape," said Knott.

Knott overwhelmingly won the primary runoff.

The former assistant U.S. attorney defeated Daughtry, a local lawyer and the daughter of a former longtime Republican legislative leader. Daughtry said Trump's endorsement of Knott made clear to her "that a pathway to victory is no longer feasible."

In a written statement late Tuesday, Knott thanked Trump and members of the North Carolina congressional delegation for their endorsements and said it was time to focus on winning in November.

"We need Conservatives from all across the country to stand strong with President Trump and deliver real solutions in Congress. I look forward to doing just that," Knott said.

Incumbent Wiley Nickel, who won a close race in 2022, announced earlier this year he is not seeking re-election due to newly drawn voting maps. Political analysts believe the new boundaries shifted the seat from a toss-up to an area that favors Republicans. Knott will face Democrat Frank Pierce in the general election.

Lieutenant governor

In a statewide GOP primary runoff, Hal Weatherman won the nomination for lieutenant governor.

Weatherman, the former chief of staff to then-Lt. Gov. Dan Forest defeated Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill in the lieutenant governor's primary.

Weatherman will take on Democratic state Sen. Rachel Hunt, daughter of former four-term Gov. Jim Hunt, in the fall election.

There was also a race for Orange County School Board between Jennifer Moore and Bonnie Hauser, which is open to all voters in that district regardless of party affiliation.

The Trump effect in NC

Asher Hildebrand, a professor at Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy and a former chief of staff for former Congressman David Price, said the primary day was a little anti-climactic.

He also said it's interesting to see how much sway former President Donald Trump still has in Republican primaries.

"Once again, we're one of the highest profile states in the country, maybe a little less than in 2020 only because we don't have a senate race," Hildebrand said.

He said he feels Trump needs to win the state more than President Joe Biden does.

"It's really a state that President Trump can't afford to lose, so if he wins North Carolina that doesn't tell us much about how the country is going," Hildebrand said. "If Biden wins, it will be a big win for him."

He added that North Carolina will probably have the highest-profile, most-contested governor's races in the country.

"If President Trump carries NC by three or four points, I think it's hard for a good candidate like Josh Stein to overcome that," Hildebrand said of the current attorney general's Democratic bid for governor against Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.

"I know Attorney General Stein is not taking anything for granted, of course, he's raising as much money as anyone in the country and treating it with the seriousness it needs to be treated," Hildebrand added.

The Associated Press contributed.