With no statewide race on the ballot, this year’s North Carolina primary a relatively sleepy affair that drew light voter turnout statewide. But several state House and Senate races ended up raising eyebrows.
The biggest surprise came in Wake County, where political newcomer Allison Dahle soundly defeated Rep. Duane Hall in the Democratic primary for the NC House seat in District 11.
Hall was considered a rising star in the Democratic Party until this past February when North Carolina Policy Watch published an article detailing allegations of unwanted sexual advances and innuendo.
Governor Roy Cooper and other prominent Democrats urged Hall to drop out of the race, but he refused, and called the story a “personal vendetta.”
In her first run for public office, Dahle initially refused to push the issue, but later said there was no place in state government for a “sexual harasser.”
Dahle will face Republican Tyler Brooks this fall.
Several other General Assembly incumbents were also unseated in primaries.
Rep. Justin Burr, a Republican who led judicial redistricting efforts last year, lost in his bid for another term to pharmacist Wayne Sasser.
Senator Joel Ford, a Democrat, lost his race for state Senate in the Charlotte area. Ford voted with Republicans on several occasions in recent years, and lost key endorsements – and the primary – to Mujtaba Mohammed.
Rep. Beverly Boswell lost her race for a second term. Republican Bobby Hanig defeated Boswell in an especially contentious race along the coast. Boswell ran into trouble for several missteps, including describing herself as a nurse despite not being a registered nurse, supporting offshore oil exploration, and backing a repeal of a plastic bag ban on the Outer Banks.
And although he was not an incumbent, Bob Rucho lost his primary race. Rucho was a member of the Republican leadership in the North Carolina Senate when he retired two years ago. He changed districts and attempted to return to Raleigh, but lost in the primary to Vickie Sawyer.
Joyce Krawiec narrowly defeated Dan Barrett by 226 votes in a hotly contested race in the Republican primary for the NC Senate District 31 seat in Forsyth and Davie Counties. The two GOP members were “double bunked.”
Several of the more conservative and controversial members of the General Assembly faced primary challengers who billed themselves as more moderate Republicans.
Republicans Larry Pittman, George Cleveland, and Michael Speciale won their races. All have been embroiled in controversies that ranged from Pittman comparing Abraham Lincoln to Hitler to all three co-sponsoring a bill that sought to remove a provision in the North Carolina constitution that prohibits secession.
Senator Dan Bishop, one of the key authors of House Bill 2, also won his race convincingly against Beth Monaghan. Monaghan challenged Bishop because she said the law that prohibited transgender people from using the public bathroom of their choice “saddened and infuriated her.”
Looking to the fall, Democrats are running candidates in all 170 races across the state. They hope to win enough seats to break a Republican super-majority in both the North Carolina Senate and House.
Republicans currently hold the House 75-45 and the Senate 35-15, so Democrats would need to pick up four House seats and six Senate seats to reach that goal.