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Primary Shakeup In NC's 9th Congressional District

File photo of Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC), right, smiling at Vice President Mike Pence, left, after a tax policy event in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, April 20, 2018. Pittenger lost a close primary race to Republican Mark Harris.
Chuck Burton
/
AP
File photo of Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC), right, smiling at Vice President Mike Pence, left, after a tax policy event in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, April 20, 2018. Pittenger lost a close primary race to Republican Mark Harris.

There was at least one big upset in North Carolina congressional primaries Tuesday: incumbent Robert Pittenger lost a close race to Republican Mark Harris, a challenger he beat by only 134 votes two years ago.

Harris had to overcome Pittenger's strength in the more populous precincts of Mecklenburg and Cumberland counties. Harris prevailed with 48.5 percent of the vote.

His reward will be a general election contest against Iraq War veteran and Harvard graduate Dan McCready. Democrats have indicated they will target the 9th District, which they see as flippable.

Harris, a former president of the Baptist State Convention in North Carolina, now must pivot toward a general election campaign against McCready, who won Tuesday's Democratic nomination.

McCready had $1.2 million in unspent campaign donations in mid-April and was already eyeing the fall vote in the 9th District, which fuses affluent parts of Charlotte and its suburbs with poor, rural counties along the South Carolina border to the edge of Fort Bragg.

Another district Democrats believe could be swept up in a blue wave is the 13th, where Democrat Kathy Manning handily beat Adam Coker.

Manning now faces incumbent Rep. Ted Budd, a freshman Republican. Budd had no primary challenger.

In another closely watched congressional race, Democrat Linda Coleman, a former state representative and two-time candidate for lieutenant governor, won a three-way primary. Coleman will face incumbent George Holding, who won the Republican primary with more than  70 percent of the vote.

Democrat David Price easily won his primary and will likely return to Congress from the 4th district. He will have a general election challenger in Libertarian Barbara Howe, who won a two-way primary.

Third District Congressman Walter Jones won his Republican primary against two challengers. Jones will run unopposed this fall for what is expected to be his final term.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2018 North Carolina Public Radio

Rusty Jacobs is a politics reporter for WUNC. Rusty previously worked at WUNC as a reporter and substitute host from 2001 until 2007 and now returns after a nine-year absence during which he went to law school at Carolina and then worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Wake County.
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