Butterfield, Fjeld, Cleary advance; GOP runoff in 6th District
The fall congressional races took shape as winners emerged in Tuesday’s races for U.S. House seats.
U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield won the Democratic primary in northeast North Carolina's 1st District, which includes Durham, over Dan Whittacre. He'll face either Republican Arthur Rich or Brent Shypulefski, who remained in an extremely tight battle Tuesday night. Rich had 5,188, while Shypulefski had 4,958 with 93 percent of precincts reporting after 11 p.m.
In the crowded 6th District Republican field, which includes part of Durham, Baptist minister Mark Walker and Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr., son of powerful state Senate leader Phil Berger, will have a July runoff. The winner faces Democrat Laura Fjeld, a retired University of North Carolina system administrator, for the 6th District seat open after GOP Rep. Howard Coble decided to retire after 30 years in office.
In the 13th District, which stretches east and north from Raleigh and includes a small swath of Durham, Brenda Cleary won the Democratic primary and will face incumbent U.S. Rep. George Holding.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers and former state Sen. David Rouzer won Republican Party primaries on Tuesday in closely watched North Carolina congressional races.
Ellmers, a 50-year-old nurse from Dunn, beat former foreign currency trader Frank Roche of Cary to win the GOP nomination in North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, according to unofficial results.
"I hope we can unite as a party and move forward to November with our focus on retaining our conservative majority in the House and reclaiming a conservative majority in the Senate," Ellmers said in a statement. "We cannot stop (President Barack) Obama without it."
Ellmers rode the tea party wave that shook up Congress in 2010 and now is looking for a third term. She enjoys an advantage because the district's map was drawn by GOP lawmakers to favor a Republican. Mitt Romney won nearly six in 10 votes in the district in 2012, and Ellmers captured 56 percent.
Ellmers will face the candidate chosen in the Democratic Party primary contest. Democrats were choosing from among entertainer Clay Aiken, textile entrepreneur Keith Crisco and licensed family counselor Toni Morris.
"I think Clay is truly interested in helping people," 64-year-old Jane Hinnant of Pittsboro said as she voted in the Democratic primary. Aiken is an openly gay man in a district populated with many socially conservative, evangelical Christians.
"We need to stay out of people's bedrooms," said Bob Finch, a 57-year-old Democrat from neighboring Lee County.
Republican David Rouzer gets another chance to win the congressional district he lost two years ago by a razor-thin margin to Democrat Mike McIntyre. Rouzer won Tuesday's Republican primary against Woody White and Chris Andrade in the 7th Congressional District. McIntyre is retiring rather than campaign again in the district, which favors Republicans.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx beat Philip Doyle to again take the Republican Party nomination in the 5th District in northwest North Carolina. She'll face the winner of the Democratic race featuring Joshua Brannon, Gardenia Henley, Michael Holleman and Will Stinson.
Former Charlotte television anchor and radio personality Vince Coakley won the Republican primary in the heavily Democratic 12th District over church pastor Leon Threatt. Seven Democrats were vying for the nomination. The winner will replace former U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, who resigned to become director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the groups that own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages.
U.S. Reps. Robert Pittenger and Patrick McHenry won Republican primary elections in their Charlotte-area districts.