Trump looms large in NC elections, turnout pivotal to expected congressional runoffs

“The two potential runoff elections for congressional nominations appear to be battles of which candidate can align him or herself more with former President Donald Trump.”
Donald Trump, June 24, 2023, Washington, D.C.

Alignment with the lightning rod former president and voter turnout are expected to be pivotal when North Carolina’s second primary happens May 14.

Because of not getting 30% plus one vote in the primary on Tuesday, the second-place finishers are able to request the runoffs. State law requires that to happen in writing.

The 6th Congressional District in the Triad and the 13th Congressional District just south of the Triangle are each expected to need the extra trip to the ballot box for Republican primaries. In the quest to be in the 10-member Council of State, the GOP races for lieutenant governor and auditor may also have runoffs.

Patrick Gannon, spokesman for the state Board of Elections, confirmed in an email Thursday afternoon no candidate has made the formal request. Deadline is noon on Thursday of next week. County canvasses take place Friday of next week, and if a candidate not thought to be eligible is then eligible, a 48-hour window opens for filing the runoff request.

“The two potential runoff elections for congressional nominations appear to be battles of which candidate can align him or herself more with former President Donald Trump,” wrote David McLennan in an email to The Center Square. He’s a Meredith University professor of political science and director of the Meredith Poll.

Dallas Woodhouse, North Carolina executive director for American Majority, wrote in an email, “The runoffs are about turnout. Very few voters take part.”

BlueCross BlueShield lobbyist Addison McDowell, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is facing former Congressman Mark Walker in the 6th. In the 13th, it’s Kelly Daughtry and Brad Knott.

“In the 6th District,” McLennan says, “the Trump-endorsed Addison McDowell used the endorsement to be the top vote-getter, but his expected runoff challenger, Mark Walker, does not shy away from talking about how he would support the Trump agenda, if elected. This will be a strange race because Walker has been accused to making up endorsements from prominent Republicans.

“The other congressional race – the 13th – will also be a test of who can align him or herself more with Trump. It is also going to be a content between two candidates – Kelly Daughtry and Brad Knott – who run more strongly in different parts of the district.”

Walker has images of he and Trump on his campaign website. He's pledged support to the nation's 45th president.

Hal Weatherman and Jim O’Neill remain from an 11-candidate Republican field for lieutenant governor. Jack Clark and Dave Boliek are alive from the six-candidate Republican race for auditor.

Woodhouse said, “I suspect the statewide GOP Council of State runoffs will focus on winning the votes of GOP voters in the 6th and 13th congressional districts where campaigns are already turning out voters.”

Davidson County had the most voters (24,615) in the 6th and Johnston (26,401) in the 13th. Tuesday leaders McDowell and Daughtry did best in those counties, respectively, in the congressional races.

Weatherman and Clark were respective leaders Tuesday in the Cabinet races.

O'Neill had a larger edge over Weatherman in Davidson than Weatherman did over O'Neill in Johnston. Boliek netted more than 4,000 votes more than Clark in the two counties, with Clark only slightly better (210 votes) in Davidson.

“The two Republican candidates for lieutenant governor have been prominent in the Republican Party for some time,” McLennan said, “while those running for state auditor both bring a lot of business experience to the race.”