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Democrat Jeff Jackson wins 14th Congressional District seat

Pat Harrigan, left, and Jeff Jackson.
Harrigan for Congress and Steve Harrison/WFAE
Pat Harrigan, left, and Jeff Jackson.

Mecklenburg State Sen. Jeff Jackson is projected to win the 14th Congressional District race against Republican Pat Harrigan, leading by 58% to 42% with a majority of precincts reporting.

The Associated Press projected Jackson's victory at 9:22 p.m. Tuesday.

The 14th District was created by special masters after the N.C. Supreme Court ruled that two previous Republican attempts to draw maps were unconstitutional gerrymanders. The district includes most of Gaston County and about half of Mecklenburg County.

Joe Biden won the district by nearly 17 percentage points in 2020. Jackson was a heavy favorite to win.

Jackson and Harrigan have similar backgrounds, with both having served in Afghanistan.

But despite their shared military experience – and despite the 14th being a safe Democratic seat – the race was contentious.

Harrigan ran a TV commercial accusing Jackson of supporting “giving money to terrorists” because he supported Biden’s American Rescue Plan. That legislation gave stimulus checks to some prisoners, including the Boston Marathon bomber, before the money was taken back.

Jackson sharply rebuked the ad.

Jackson challenged whether Harrigan voted illegally in the May primary. Harrigan had lived in Hickory, though he rented an apartment in SouthPark during the campaign. Jackson contended that wasn’t his true residence; the Mecklenburg Board of Elections rejected his challenge in a 3-1 vote.

Congressional candidates don’t have to live in the district they want to represent.

Last week it was reported that someone fired a bullet into the Hickory home owned by Harrigan’s parents. Harrigan blamed Jackson for inciting the attack, citing a television commercial in which Jackson criticized Harrigan for living outside the district and featured him standing outside a lake house in Hickory. The house wasn’t Harrigan’s actual home.

Jackson condemned the shooting and pulled that commercial from TV.

But despite his apparent victory, Jackson's time in Washington could be short-lived.

If Republicans win a majority on the state Supreme Court, GOP leaders have said they would try to re-draw the state’s Congressional map before the 2024 election. That could mean that the 14th district goes from a Blue seat to a purple or even a red one.

Earlier this year, Dallas Woodhouse, the former executive director of the state Republican Party, advised Jackson to “rent, not buy” in Washington.

Jackson started 2021 by running for the open U.S. Senate seat. But he dropped out of the race in December, clearing the path for Cheri Beasley.

Beasley was trailing Republican Ted Budd Tuesday, by 50% to 48%.