Primary Day in North Carolina determines the future makeup of the General Assembly, with several contested races in the Triangle and beyond.
All 170 seats in the state House and Senate are up for election this fall. The primary narrows the field, with winners receiving the nomination of their party.
Will the governor stepping in to oppose a sitting Democratic senator make or break a North Carolina legislative primary? That question is why the Senate District 19 primary with incumbent state Sen. Kirk deViere became the legislative race to watch Tuesday night.
Early voting returns show his opponent, Val Applewhite in the lead with 3,948 votes, which is 58%, compared to deViere’s 2,454 votes, which is 36%. A third candidate, Ed Donaldson, was in a distant third with less than 5% of early voting tallies.
DeViere, a Fayetteville Democrat, is in his second term. He’s also a moderate who has voted with the Republican Senate majority occasionally on issues like reopening schools for in-person learning in early 2021, and helped negotiate the state budget. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper made the surprising move of stepping into the primary to endorse deViere’s Democratic primary opponent, Applewhite. The primary included PAC-funded attack ads against deViere, including one that PolitiFact NC rated “false.”
Cooper trying to influence the election drew a rebuke from another sitting Democrat, N.C. Rep. Billy Richardson, who called on Cooper to retract what he called a “mistake,” the N&O previously reported.
On primary day, deViere was at the polls talking with voters. He told The News & Observer that he plans to watch initial election returns at home with his family, friends and campaign team.
“People are very receptive, they are very supportive, especially of the work we’ve done over the last four years,” deViere said. He received the endorsement of the North Carolina Association of Educators and his local Cumberland County teachers group.
He stopped short of commenting Tuesday on Cooper’s interference in the election. DeViere is the only Democrat that Cooper singled out, even though several other Democrats have voted like deViere.
“At this point, as I’ve said all along, the voters in this community are going to decide this election. No one else,” deViere said.
Republican primary Ballard vs. Hise
Another primary race watched by political observers is in Western North Carolina, where incumbent Sens. Deanna Ballard and Ralph Hise were double-bunked in Senate District 47 from recent redistricting.
Less than 1,000 votes separated the two candidates as early voting totals came in just after polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Hise had 50% of the vote to Ballard’s 49%. Hise’s tally is 4,617, while Ballard’s count is 4,569.
They are both popular with voters in their previous districts and are in top Senate leadership roles — Ballard in education and Hise in appropriations.
There are also several primary races in the Triangle, with the most crowded fields in Wake and Orange counties.
Wake County legislative primaries
NC House District 33:
Democratic candidates are Rosa U. Gill and Nate Blanton.
NC House District 34:
Republican primary candidates are Joshua Jordan and Ashley Seshul.
NC House District 35:
Republican candidates are Brandon Panameno and Fred Von Canon.
NC House District 37:
Democratic candidates are Christine Kelly, Elizabeth Parent and Mary Bethel.
NC House District 40:
Democratic candidates are Marguerite Creel and Joe John.
NC House District 66:
Democratic candidates are Sarah Crawford, Wesley Knott and Frank (Jeremiah) Pierce.
NC Senate District 13:
Democratic candidates are Lisa Grafstein and Patrick Buffkin.
Republican candidates are Jeff Werner and David Bankert.
NC Senate District 18:
Republican candidates are Dimitry Slabyak and E. C. Sykes.
Orange County legislative primaries
NC House District 50:
Democratic candidates are Matt Hughes and Renee Price.
NC House District 56:
Democratic candidates are Jonah Garson and Allen Buansi.
NC Senate District 23:
Democratic candidates are Jamie DeMent Holcomb, Graig R. Meyer, Bill Cooke and Landon Woods.
Chatham County legislative primaries
NC House District 54:
Republican candidates are Craig Kinsey and Walter Petty.
Johnston County legislative primaries
NC Senate District 10:
Republican candidates are Jill Homan, Benton Sawrey and Matt Ansley.
NC House District 53:
Republican candidates are Brian Hawley and Howard Penny Jr.
Durham County legislative primaries
NC Senate District 22:
Republican candidates are Larry Coleman and John Tarantino.
For more North Carolina government and politics news, listen to the Under the Dome politics podcast from The News & Observer and the NC Insider. You can find it at https://campsite.bio/underthedome or wherever you get your podcasts.