With 60 percent of the precincts reporting, the HickoryRepublican had 52,798 votes, or 62 percent.
Democratic challenger Ron Daugherty had 29,939 votes, or 35 percent, accordingto unofficial returns.
Libertarian Christopher Hill had 2,434 votes, or three percent.
In the 11h District, Republican Congressman Charles Taylor kept hisseat after winning a seventh term in a rematchwith his opponent from the last election.
With 83 percent of the precincts reporting, Taylor had 55percent. Democratic rival Sam Neill had 43 percent in theunofficial returns.
Libertarian Eric Henry of Flat Rock earned twopercent.
Observers called it a gentler rematch of the 2000 race to represent western North Carolina.
Ballenger, the 10th District congressman since 1986, faced atough race from Daugherty, a mill owner from Morganton.
The test for Ballenger, a plastic packaging company owner, alsocame as Democrats squeezed Republicans out of his district duringthe latest round of redistricting - giving the GOP only a slightlead in voter registration.
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