‘Sleepy’ Hunter earns ninth term

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 21, 2004

WINTON – Rubbing his eyes from a noticeable lack of sleep, Howard Hunter Jr. breathed a giant sigh of relief after the Hertford County native learned late Tuesday night that he will return to Raleigh for a ninth term in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

With only two full days to campaign, due to his busy schedule during the recently concluded short session of the General Assembly, Hunter still managed to hammer out a 2-to-1 decision over challenger Fred Yates in Tuesday’s Primary election for the State House District 5 seat.

Unofficial totals from the four-county District (Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Perquimans) show Hunter comfortably ahead with 5,631 votes, or 66.5 percent of the overall tally. Yates, the Mayor of the Town of Winfall in Perquimans County, was named on 2,830 ballots.

&uot;If you want my best response to winning, all I can say is, whew,&uot; exclaimed Hunter as he sat in the Hertford County Board of Elections office, keeping a running tabulation of the incoming votes.

&uot;We adjourned from our short session in Raleigh around 6 a.m. on Sunday and I drove home, took a shower, put on some clothes and hit the campaign trail. I bet’cha I burned four tanks of gas on Sunday and Monday traveling through my District.&uot;

His late start in getting out to personally greet his constituents left Hunter feeling a bit uneasy.

&uot;I felt real nervous throughout this campaign,&uot; he said. &uot;We were extremely busy in Raleigh during the short session, leaving me with little or no time at all to come home and campaign. My worthy opponent had ample time to travel within the District.&uot;

But despite Yates’ best efforts, Hunter proved that an incumbent, especially one with his length of service, is tough to beat. He was quick to credit a group of volunteers who campaigned on his behalf while he was working in Raleigh.

&uot;I’m extremely pleased with the outcome of this election,&uot; noted Hunter. &uot;The support I received sent a message that I’m apparently doing a good job of representing District 5. I appreciate that support and look forward to continuing to do the best I can for the people of our District.&uot;

Highlighted by a landside victory on his home turf (he won Hertford County by a 2,517-to-488 margin), Hunter carried three of the four counties in the District. He claimed wins in Bertie (2,165-to-1,211) and Gates (682-to-463).

Yates did manage to carry his home county as Perquimans voters cast 668 ballots for their native son compared to 267 for Hunter.

All votes are unofficial until the Board of Elections offices in each county perform a state-mandated canvass next Tuesday.