Raleigh, N.C. — The race to the right failed to ignite voters' enthusiasm Tuesday, as "establishment" candidates captured the Republican nominations in most North Carolina congressional districts.
Congresswoman Renee Ellmers beat back a challenge from radio talk show host Frank Roche, who said she was too liberal on issues such as immigration reform, in the 2nd District, while former state Sen. David Rouzer won for a second time in the 7th District.
"With tonight's election behind us, we turn to the November election and these simple truths: We cannot afford to send another Obama liberal to Congress to vote with (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi and support (President) Barack Obama's agenda, and we must make sure that Kay Hagan does not return to the U.S. Senate," Ellmers said in a statement. "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. We cannot stop Obama without it."
With 71 percent of precincts reporting, she had a 59-41 percent lead over Roche, according to unofficial results.
Ellmers' opponent in November is unclear. Former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco and pop singer Clay Aiken were running neck and neck in the Democratic primary. Both were right around the 40 percent mark needed to win outright and avoid a July runoff.
The 2nd District runs from southern Wake County to Fayetteville and loops north through Moore and Chatham counties into Alamance County.
Rouzer, who lost a tight race in 2012 to Democratic Congressman Mike McIntyre, hopes to finally capture the seat now that McIntyre is retiring. He had to beat back New Hanover County Commissioner Woody White, who dueled Rouzer in television ads as to who was more conservative. White painted Rouzer as a former lobbyist who wouldn't stand up to Obama, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came in late in the race with an ad that equated White with former U.S. Sen. John Edwards because both are plaintiff attorneys.
With 56 percent of precincts reporting, Rouzer led White by 58 percent to 36 percent, according to unofficial results. Candidate Chris Andrade trailed with 6 percent.
The 7th District runs from Johnston County southeast to the coast.
Rouzer will face another New Hanover County commissioner in November. In the relatively low-key Democratic primary, Commissioner Jonathan Barfield defeated Princeton Commissioner Walter Martin 56-44 percent, with 56 percent of precincts reporting, according to unofficial results.
In the 6th Congressional District, which stretches from the Triad to the northern fringes of Durham and Orange counties, Republican Phil Berger Jr., the son of the state Senate leader, was leading a nine-person field but appeared to be headed for a runoff. Rev. Mark Walker of Greensboro was in second place in the race, trailing Berger by a 37-25 percent margin with 43 percent of precincts reporting.
Berger would need to win 40 percent of the vote to win the primary outright and avoid a runoff.
Laura Fjeld, general counsel for the University of North Carolina system, was ahead of Bruce Davis 55-45 percent for the Democratic nomination in the 6th District, according to unofficial results.
Congressman G.K. Butterfield easily won the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District, which stretches from Durham to northeast North Carolina, but the GOP primary was too close to call.
In the 13th Congressional District, which includes much of Wake County, Democrat Brenda Cleary, a registered nurse, won a three-person primary and will face Republican Congressman George Holding in November.
Congressman Walter Jones appears to have beat back a challenge from Taylor Griffin, who had the backing of former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, in the 3rd Congressional District in eastern North Carolina.
Incumbent Republicans Virginia Foxx, Robert Pittenger and Patrick McHenry also won Tuesday, while state Rep. Alma Adams appeared to capture the Democratic nomination for the 12th Congressional District seat vacated by Mel Watt.