Incumbents win in district primary races

Published 5:43 pm Friday, March 6, 2020

Voters across the Roanoke-Chowan area went to the polls on Mar. 3 to cast their votes in a variety of local, state, and federal primaries. Incumbents in several local district races managed to secure their nominations for the general election in November.

Though several NC Senate and NC House of Representative seats are up for grabs in November, only a few of those local races had enough candidates for a primary. The incumbents for NC House District 5 and District 27 both received enough votes to move on to the general election.

District 5 covers Hertford, Gates, and Pasquotank counties. Democrat incumbent Howard J. Hunter III easily won against his primary opponent Keith Rivers. Hunter carried all three counties in the district with a total of 6,329 votes, while Rivers received 3,041 votes overall. With the exception of one precinct in Pasquotank County, Hunter carried all of the other precincts in the district, with many of those in Hertford and Gates counties by a wide margin.

Hunter is seeking his fourth term in the NC House. He will face the sole Republican candidate, Donald Kirkland, in November’s election.

Longtime incumbent Michael H. Wray also secured his nomination as the Democrat candidate for District 27, which covers Northampton and Halifax counties. Wray was up against challengers Kelby Hicks and Jerry McDaniel. Across the district, Wray received a total of 6,838 votes with 2,501 of those coming from Northampton County.

Hicks garnered 4,522 votes in total and McDaniel received 905.

Even though Wray had enough votes overall to win the nomination, Hicks received more votes in three of Northampton’s precincts: Lake Gaston, Gaston, and Garysburg/Pleasant Hill. He also carried four precincts in Halifax County.

In November’s election, Wray will face opposition from Republican candidate Warren Scott Nail. If successful in his reelection bid, this will be Wray’s ninth term in the NC House.

Many NC District Court Judge seats were also up for election, but only one locally was contested. District 6 covers Hertford, Bertie, Northampton, and Halifax counties. Incumbent Vershenia Ballance Moody was up against challenger Jamal Summey for the District 6 Seat 3 Democrat primary.

Moody managed to carry all four counties with a total of 11,641 votes, though Summey won a few precincts in Northampton and Halifax counties. He received a total of 7,153 votes throughout the district.

Moody will be unopposed on the general election ballot.

The primary for the Democrat candidate for US Senate saw local citizen Erica D. Smith fall to Cal Cunningham. Smith had been serving as the District 3 representative in the NC Senate, but chose to forgo a reelection bid in the hopes of attaining a seat at the federal level.

Smith received a total of 434,896 votes statewide but that was not enough to beat Cunningham’s total of 713,249. Smith, however, did carry several counties in the northeastern part of the state, including all four counties of the Roanoke-Chowan area. She received 2,085 votes in Bertie County, 676 in Gates, 2,457 in Hertford, and 3,100 in her home county of Northampton.

As the Democrat primary winner, Cunningham will face off against Republican primary winner Thom Tillis in November’s election. Tillis is seeking another term in the US Senate, having first been elected to the seat in 2014.

Statewide turnout for this year’s primary was around 31 percent.

Results will remain unofficial until canvassed by the Board of Elections. The general election will be held on November 3.