Local Politics

Burr wins easily; Democratic runoff needed

Posted May 4, 2010
Updated May 5, 2010

— U.S. Sen. Richard Burr breezed to victory in the Republican primary Tuesday, while North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and former state Sen. Cal Cunningham will meet again next month in a runoff on the Democratic side.

Burr grabbed 80 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

"I think North Carolinians are scared to death with the direction of the country, but they're also concerned about the economy and their jobs," Burr said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., where he spent election night.

Burr said he wants to be a part of crafting solutions to national problems in a second term, including addressing federal debt.

Election 2010 logo Dems headed for runoff in Senate race

Marshall had 36 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary with 98 percent of precincts reporting. She needed at least 40 percent to avoid a June runoff.

"I think not having a runoff is in the Democratic Party's long-range best interests," Marshall said. "(We should be) focusing on the target, which is getting this (Senate) seat for the Democratic Party. So, continuing to fight among ourselves does not get us to the point where we need to be."

Cunningham was second in the six-person race with 27 percent, followed by Durham lawyer Ken Lewis at 17 percent. The other three candidates finished in single digits.

Cunningham immediately called for a runoff election with Marshall. That vote will be held on June 22.

"You should all be commended, and I'm going to need you again from now until June 22 and from June 22 on into November," Cunningham told cheering supporters in his hometown of Lexington. "We, here in North Carolina are one step closer to replacing Richard Burr in the United States Senate."

Incumbents rule the day

Five state House members lost to challengers, but local contests went to the incumbents.

Incumbent congressmen G.K. Butterfield, Walter Jones, Howard Coble and Larry Kissell also were easy winners in their primaries. Renee Ellmers won the Republican primary in the 2nd Congressional District and will face Congressman Bob Etheridge in November, while William Lawson will face Congressman David Price after winning the GOP primary in the 4th Congressional District.

Primary races for area seats in the state House and state Senate also went to incumbents.

The incumbents who were unseated were Democratic Reps. Ronnie Sutton of Robeson County, Nick Mackey of Mecklenburg County, Bruce Goforth of Buncombe County and Earl Jones of Guilford County and Republican Rep. Pearl Burris Floyd of Gaston County.

Sutton, a nine-term House member and Lumberton lawyer, lost to Charles Graham, the former special education director in the Robeson County Schools. Sutton, a chairman of a House judiciary committee, received 49 percent of the vote, trailing Graham's 51 percent.

Mackey, a first-term lawmaker, lost to Rodney Moore, who snared 62 percent of the vote after Mackey's law license was suspended for failure to disclose late tax filings and troubles while a police officer on his Bar exam application.

Goforth, a four-term House member, lost handily to former congressional candidate Patsy Keever in a race whose key issue had been how to regulate development on steep mountain slopes. Marcus Brandon beat Jones, who as been a strong supporter for backing stem-cell research in North Carolina, making video poker legal again and permitting marijuana use for medical purposes.

Real estate agent Kelly Hastings, who is white, defeated Burris Floyd, the Legislature's lone black Republican, by 6-percent margin.

One upset in sheriff races

Fourteen area sheriffs faced primary challengers, and only one went down to defeat.

Calvin Woodard, an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation and a former Wilson County deputy, knocked off longtime Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay.

Sheriffs who fended off primary challenges included Worth Hill in Durham County, Lindy Pendergrass in Orange County, Earl "Moose" Butler in Cumberland County, James Knight in Edgecombe County, Pat Green in Franklin County, Hubert Peterkin in Hoke County and Peter White in Vance County.

Light turnout

Officials with the State Board of Elections said voter turnout was light across the state, with about 13 percent of registered voters casting ballots. In the last mid-term election in 2006, voter turnout in the primary was 12 percent.

Wake County elections officials said 11.5 percent of local voters cast ballots.

About 170,000 voters cast ballots in early voting statewide.


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  • Just the facts mam May 5, 2010

    These angry voters are not mad at Republicans - they are angry with the liberal Democrats, and will voice their anger this November.

  • OGE May 5, 2010

    Every time I contact Hagan's Office whether it is in support or against an issue I get a response of some kind. That's more than I can say for Burr, if my communication with his office isn't in line with his thinking I get nothing.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot May 5, 2010

    Kay Hagan won't even respond to her constituents, so don't blab about Burr not being in NC during the primary. I seriously doubt Hagan would have been either. I'll be sure to remember this tidbit of news coverage in the future when Hagan is too busy in Washington to attend her victory party in the future.

  • OGE May 5, 2010

    So much for Burr being grateful for his parties support. He did nto even have the decency to show up and say thank you.

  • dwntwnboy May 5, 2010

    What happened to all the Tea Party - Vote the Bums out- stuff? Figured they would have lined up around the block to put in new blood under that big "R" instead of Burr....since incumbents are sooooooo bad. LOL Guess they are only "bad" if they have a "D" beside their name.....where's a March Hare when ya need one?

  • ratherbnnc May 5, 2010

    Where were all these ANGRY Republicans and Tea Partiers at? LOL

  • dlentz2 May 5, 2010

    Why would anyone say there doesn't need to be a runoff. IF the 36% that voted for the others vote for Cunningham instead of Marshall he would win. NO one got the required % of votes.

  • Garnerwolf1 May 5, 2010

    WHY do voters continue to vote in the same politicians!

  • hpr641 May 5, 2010

    "Burr wins easily; Democratic runoff needed"

    First part is correct (I'd say 80% qualifies as winning "easily"), but the second part is incorrect. A Democratic runoff is NOT "needed" - Cunningham, the fiscally responsible Democrat that he is, could say, "Let me save the people of North Carolina a million and not continue to contest an election I already lost once." I'm sorry - who am I kidding hoping for such a thing?