Raleigh, N.C. — Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers beat back a spirited challenge from pop singer Clay Aiken on Tuesday to retain her seat in the 2nd Congressional District.
Ellmers had 59 percent of the vote to Aiken's 41 percent, according to unofficial results.
"It's time to put all of (the politics) aside. It's time to look to the future of this country," she told her supporters in Dunn late Tuesday. "Our best days are ahead of us."
Aiken rose to fame on "American Idol" and later appeared on Broadway and reality television programs. He campaigned on a "throw-the-bums-out" style platform, saying he was tired of the partisan politics and gridlock in Washington, D.C., and promising to work toward bipartisan solutions to issues such as the federal budget and immigration.
Ellmers, who was first elected in 2010, said she would continue to fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut government spending.
"We're not going to give up on Obamacare," she said, using the common moniker for President Barack Obama's signature health care law. "It's becoming more devastating for every family in this country. There's a better way to do it; there are alternatives."
She was anticipating a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate and said she was eager to "make progress happen" on a GOP legislative agenda.
"We're going to have a team that we can work with and get much of the legislation that we've already passed (in the House) through (the Senate) and then pass it on to the president," she said. "The people need to know where he stands on all of these issues."
Aiken compared his loss to finishing second on "American Idol," telling supporters in Sanford that he "found an opportunity for a win" in that and found several wins from his campaign.
"We energized voters across North Carolina," he said, "to pay attention to a process that too many people have forgotten about, that too many people have become disenfranchised from, that too many people have become upset about. We got people to listen to the voices of folks whose voices were not being heard."
GOP grabs two open seats
The 6th Congressional District took a sharp right turn Tuesday night, as conservative Republican Mark Walker won the election to succeed longtime Congressman Howard Coble.
Walker, a former minister, had 59 percent of the vote, outdistancing Democrat Laura Fjeld, a former general counsel for the University of North Carolina system, according to unofficial results.
Although Coble is also a Republican, Walker has been endorsed by tea party groups and has made brash comments such as supporting a war with Mexico to halt illegal immigration.
In the 7th Congressional District, Republican former state Sen. David Rouzer grabbed the seat held for years by Democrat Mike McIntyre. Rouzer narrowly lost to McIntyre two years ago in a district that has been redrawn to favor the GOP.
"The challenges we face in this country are significant, and there is only one clear path forward to restore America to greatness," Rouzer said in a statement. "My pledge to the fine citizens of this district, this state, and this country is to always do what is right and what is good for the country."
He defeated Democratic New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield and Libertarian candidate Wesley Casteen, a Wilmington lawyer.
Incumbents win easily
Democrats G.K. Butterfield and David Price and Republicans Walter Jones, Virginia Foxx, Richard Hudson, Robert Pittenger, Patrick McHenry, Mark Meadows and George Holding easily won re-election to their U.S. House seats.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Alma Adams won the election to succeed former 12th District Congressman Mel Watt, who became director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency earlier this year. Adams will become the 100th female member of the U.S. House in January.