WAYNE COUNTY, N.C. — Republicans will control the state House in January after a recount declared a Republican candidate as the winner in Wayne County.
Rep. Phil Baddour, the House majority leader since 1999, lost to Republican Louis Pate after a hand recount in Wayne County completed Friday afternoon gave Pate a 174-vote victory, a county elections official said.
Along with the GOP defeat of Rep. Alice Underhill, D-Craven, in another recount completed Friday, Republicans will have a 61-59 lead over Democrats in the chamber starting in January.
Baddour appeared to have won by nearly 900 votes after Election Day, but Pate took the lead a few days later when straight-ticket ballots not counted by voting machines were tallied.
The hand recount showed Pate with 8,508 votes, while Baddour had 8,334 votes. Each candidate gained a half-dozen votes compared to the previous tally.
The state Board of Elections will certify the winners in all legislative elections Tuesday.
Democrats have led the chamber since the 1998 elections. The GOP has only controlled the House for four years going back to 1899.
"I think we're going to suffer with not having Phil Baddour as our leader in the Legislature," Wayne County Democratic Party chairman Larry Jones said in the Wayne County Courthouse in Goldsboro, where the recounts were held.
Earlier Friday, a machine recount confirmed Republican Michael Gorman had defeated Underhill in the District 3 race. Gorman won by 183 votes over Underhill; last week's recount gave him a 182-vote lead.
The Republican majority caps a stunning reversal for the GOP.
The party looked like it would make little headway in the elections after a redistricting map drawn by a judge earlier this year still favored Democrats more compared to boundaries used in the 2000 elections.
House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, predicted winning as many as 65 seats.
But Republican candidates, some helped by Elizabeth Dole's coattails in the U.S. Senate race, defeated a half-dozen Democratic incumbents, including Baddour, appropriations panel co-chairman David Redwine and Majority Whip Andy Dedmon.
The House appeared split 60-60 until the District 11 race swung to Pate's favor.
Pate's victory means House Republicans will get to choose a majority leader when they caucus Sunday in Greensboro. It also likely boosts chances for any of at least four GOP candidates for speaker to win.
Black's hopes for a third term speaker also took a hit with the final recount.
Two state House race recounts completed Thursday also affirmed that the leading candidate after Election Day was the winner. Republican Bonner Stiller defeated Democratic incumbent David Redwine in District 17, while Democrat Alice Bordsen won over Republican Bob Sharpe in District 63.
Election officials in Wake County continued a machine recount Friday in the state Senate race between Eric Reeves and Paul Coble. Reeves led by 475 votes before the recount.