Local Politics

Second primary lacks allure of first

Posted June 22, 2008 10:10 a.m. EDT
Updated June 24, 2008 9:19 a.m. EDT

— After the most exciting primary election season in at least 20 years, two candidates for North Carolina state labor commissioner believe there's still enough voter enthusiasm among Democrats for a runoff.

John Brooks and Mary Fant Donnan, the top vote-getters in the May 6 Democratic primary for state labor commissioner, will be the only candidates on the statewide ballot in Tuesday's runoff election. The winner takes on Republican Commissioner Cherie Berry in November. Two legislative districts also have runoffs.

Runoffs are usually low-key, with turnouts over the past 15 years ranging from 2.5 percent to 8 percent of the eligible voters in the party's primary, said Gary Bartlett, executive director of the State Board of Elections.

Polls close at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Across the Triangle, voters will find local races on the ballot as well.

  • Donald Davis and Kathy Taft face off for the Democratic nomination to the District 5 State Senate seat, which covers parts of Greene, Pitt and Wayne counties.
  • In Durham, Johnathan Alston and Leigh Bordley compete for an at-large seat on the school board.
  • Orange and Franklin counties have commissioner nominations to fill.
  • Vance County will also nominate a Democrat to the school board.

Nearly 1.6 million people voted in the May 6 Democratic primary, excitement generated from presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton crisscrossing the state three weeks before the election.

Elections board data bear out Bartlett's projection of low interest Tuesday. About 5,700 people had voted early at county polling spots as of last week. Unaffiliated voters also will participate.

"I am hoping that we do not have a record" low turnout," Bartlett said. "I hope that people do participate, but I do not see a lot of activity."

The runoff will cost the counties from $3.5 million to $5 million to administer, deputy state elections director Johnnie McLean said.