Pierce defeats Wray in close NC House race

Published 4:16 pm Friday, March 8, 2024

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By a narrow margin of only 42 votes, Rodney D. Pierce has apparently won the Democrat nomination for the District 27 seat in the NC House of Representatives.

Rodney D. Pierce

That district includes Northampton County, along with Halifax and Warren counties.

According to unofficial results from the March 5 primary, Pierce received 5,980 votes while incumbent Michael H. Wray received 5,938, a difference of less than one-half of one percent of the total number of votes cast.

A candidate has the right to demand a recount of the votes if the difference between the two candidates is not more than one percent (1%) of the total votes cast in the ballot item. The county canvasses, which are scheduled for next week, will determine if either of the candidates can call for a recount.

State law requires county Boards of Elections to meet at 11 a.m. on the tenth day after an election to complete the canvass of votes cast and to authenticate the vote by determining that the votes have been counted and tabulated correctly. No results are official until each county board completes this process.

“Determinations remain to be made in regard to provisional ballots, absentee ballots and any ballots that were rejected by voting machines. Until that process is completed, it would be premature for either candidate to talk about a recount,” Wray said in a statement emailed to media outlets.

“We look forward to working with the county boards of elections to ensure that all votes have been counted. At that point, we will determine our next steps,” Wray added.

Both candidates had strong early voting numbers, though Pierce had the edge with 2,977 votes to Wray’s 2,460. Pierce also received 57 absentee by-mail votes while Wray received 27.

Wray received more votes on Election Day, but it wasn’t enough to make up the deficit.

By county, Wray received more votes than Pierce in Warren County (a margin of 639 votes) and Northampton County (a margin of 196 votes).

But Halifax County voters made the difference. There, Pierce received 3,434 votes while Wray received 2,557.

No Republican candidates filed for the District 27 seat, so Pierce will be unopposed in the general election in November.

Despite having no opposition in November, Pierce said in a statement, “I still intend to continue this campaign. I still plan to meet with community groups and leaders. I still plan to listen and learn from the citizens of the district. I have no intention of ever being complacent.”

“I know that while I have been given the privilege to be the voice of the district, that privilege can be taken away,” he continued. “This is an opportunity that I do not intend to squander and I look forward to championing the causes of the people of this district.”

Pierce also thanked his campaign team, campaign manager, and the voters for their support.

“Over the past few months, I have had the distinct honor and pleasure of getting to travel around this great district of ours and meet with people from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences,” he added. “I have been blessed to hear their concerns, their thoughts, and their dreams, both for themselves and their children.”

“I am incredibly honored to have been selected to be your voice,” he concluded.

During the primary election, voters in Bertie County also had a chance to select their Democrat candidate for the District 23 seat in the NC House of Representatives. That district includes Martin and Edgecombe counties as well.

Incumbent Shelly Willingham easily defeated challenger Abbie Lane, receiving 6,762 votes in the district. Lane received 1,808 votes. Willingham received the majority of votes in all three counties, and also had the edge in early voting and absentee by-mail votes.

Willingham will face Republican candidate Brent Roberson, who was unopposed in the primary, during the general election later this year.