Local News

Duplin Election Leaves Voters in Hog Heaven

Posted September 14, 1998

— The Republican primary for District 10 of the North Carolina house was not just a battle between candidates, but a fight over the future of hog farming.

Incumbent Cindy Watson faced Johnnie Manning in May. Manning won by 17 votes. However, because of errors in ballot counting, a run-off was ordered.

Tuesday night, Manning ran away with the race against Watson getting nearly six of every ten votes cast, and a margin of 318 votes.

Watson lobbied hard against hog farm expansion. The Political Action Committee "Farmers for Fairness" recruited Manning for the election.

Hog farmers said that it is about time they had a representative who truly represents Duplin and Onslow counties.

As the results came in precinct by precinct, it became clear that Manning would be victorious.

"I believe tonight we got the best candidate money can buy," Watson said.

Incumbent Rep. Cindy Watson blamed money and politics for her lost Tuesday. She says that she is the victim of a smear campaign.

"It was about a giant industry that I feel like refused to change, in order to paint me as a candidate of being anti-farm and anti-hog," Watson said.

The hog industry led a voter registration campaign that convinced more than 1,200 people to change parties, so they could vote in Tuesday's Republican primary.

"I think it shows the electorates interest in this particular election, and being able to have a voice in this election," State Election Board member Michelle Wyatt said.

Watson angered some of her Duplin County constituents by voting for new regulations and a moratorium on hog farms. Her opponent Johnnie Manning said that Watson lost because she failed to represent her voters.

"They were dissatisfied with the representation that they had, and so they have said twice now that they want to change," Manning said.

Manning will face Democrat Russell Tucker of Pink Hill on Nov. 3. Both Manning and Tucker are contractors for Murphey Family Farms, which is the largest corporate hog farming organization in the United States.

Watson says that she does not want to lose all of the name recognition that she has gained over the past eight months, and says she is thinking about running for governor.


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