NC Voters See Runoff Primaries In 37 Counties
RALEIGH, N.C. — A harsh intra-party fight for a clear shot at an open North Carolina congressional seat that's played out with claims of cronyism, lying, and incompetence wraps up Tuesday, along with about three dozen other primary contests that lacked a clear winner in May.
Republican voters in the 6th Congressional District were picking a nominee who will be heavily favored to replace 30-year GOP incumbent Howard Coble.
Competing are Baptist minister Mark Walker, of Greensboro, and Phil Berger Jr., of Eden, the Rockingham County district attorney and son of powerful state Senate leader Phil Berger. One will advance to face Democrat Laura Fjeld, a retired University of North Carolina system administrator.
Across the state, voters in 37 counties were choosing their party's nominees in a smattering of local races. Most counties have only a single partisan contest on Tuesday's ballot. Polls opened at 6:30 a.m. and were to close at 7:30 p.m.
In Catawba County, voters will select the Republican who will run for Superior Court clerk, and in Cleveland County, the Democrat for coroner. Candidates for sheriff will be chosen in Jackson, Orange and Beaufort counties, while district attorneys are on the ballot in Burke and Wake counties. Other races include for register of deeds in Henderson and county commission in Randolph, Robeson and Union counties.
Democrats in the 5th Congressional District, which runs from the Winston-Salem suburbs to the Tennessee border, will pick between Josh Brannon, a software developer from Watauga County, and Gardenia Henley, of Winston-Salem, a retired federal employee. The winner faces Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx.
The most prominent — and perhaps most bitter — second primary is between Walker and Berger. Both are calling for the repeal of the federal health care law and oppose abortion and new gun-control laws. Both support taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools and reduced spending, taxes and regulations.
Berger's campaign called Walker dishonest, deceptive and a liar after he wrongly accused Berger during a televised debate Friday of being reprimanded by the state Supreme Court for an ethics violation. The case Walker cited was a U.S. Supreme Court case from 1935 unrelated to Berger. Walker later acknowledged his mistake.
Berger also has mocked Walker's explanation that a reference on his Facebook page that he attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro was that someone hacked the online site to add that inaccurate information.
Walker has criticized Berger's ties to established Republican politicians in Washington and Raleigh and called himself the everyman outsider.
"My opponent is bought and paid for by special interest money. As a member of the political establishment, he has pledged to back the Republican leadership in Washington and has cozied up to corporate interests. It does not get anymore 'insider' than that," Walker said in a statement.