Local News

Troxler Gets GOP Support In State Ag Commissioner Election

Posted December 6, 2004 5:35 a.m. EST

— Steve Troxler said Monday he plans to go door-to-door in Carteret County in his special election campaign for state agriculture commissioner.

Troxler, a Guilford County farmer, leads Democratic incumbent Britt Cobb by 2,287 votes, but the State Board of Elections has called a special election for Jan. 11 to deal with 4,438 ballots that were lost in Carteret.

The election is to be held only in Carteret County and only for agriculture commissioner. Voters whose early ballots were lost when a computer failed to store them will be eligible to vote, plus any of the approximately 20,000 registered voters in the county who did not vote in the Nov. 2 general election.

Speaking to reporters in Raleigh on Monday, Troxler laid out his plans for the extended campaign, noting that he's been running for agriculture commissioner for five years now, dating back to the 2000 election he lost to Democrat Meg Scott Phipps.

"There is frustration," Troxler said. "This is not something I would have asked Santa Claus for. ... In my mind, I have won this election, so what I've got to do is preserve this win."

Cobb said that with the elections board declining to certify a winner in the race, no one has won yet.

"The election's not over, so I don't think there are any winners, losers or ties," Cobb said.

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr., R-N.C., said he, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., and Sen.-elect Richard Burr, also a Republican, would co-chair Troxler's Carteret County campaign, along with Jim Cain, former president of the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team.

Jones said the special election is as much about values as it is about agriculture, which is a $60 billion industry - the state's largest.

Voters "want a man to represent them who fully understands the importance of family and faith," Jones said. "Steve is there."

Cain said electing Troxler is critical because he would add to GOP gains in representation on the Council of State, a body of elected department heads that until recent years was dominated by Democrats.

On Nov. 2, voters re-elected GOP Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry and chose Republican Les Merritt to replace Democrat Ralph Campbell as state auditor.

In another disputed election, the state board last week certified Democrat June Atkinson the winner over Republican Bill Fletcher in the race for superintendent of public instruction, but Fletcher is appealing the decision in state court.

An expected hearing on the appeal in Wake County Superior Court was delayed Monday after a judge said he could not hear it because of a conflict. He sent it to the chief judge for reassignment.

Fletcher wanted certification of the race to be blocked and for the race to be added to ballot in the Carteret County special election.

Democrat June Atkinson leads Fletcher by 8,535 votes, but Fletcher believes votes in Carteret County could change the outcome.