Eight of North Carolina's 13 members of Congress face challengers in Tuesday's primary elections, but anticipated low turnout should have most incumbents fretting only about margins of victory, not political survival.
Primaries are being held in all districts except the 1st District, where Democratic incumbent G.K. Butterfield and Republican opponent Roger Allison are the only candidates.
With no statewide races on primary ballots, early vote totals suggest 1 million or fewer of the state's 6.9 million registered voters ultimately will cast ballots. Although that raises uncertainty in two competitive Republican primaries involving incumbents, other House members are still strong favorites, a political expert said.
"Incumbency lends itself to some powerful effects as long as you don't have any scandal and there's no real voter outrage toward you," said Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College in Salisbury. "If there's something beyond the 3rd and the 9th (Districts), then that would be the shock" of the primaries, he added.
In a rematch of the south-central 9th District Republican primary in 2016 that left them just 134 votes apart, U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger and the Rev. Mark Harris, both from Charlotte, are battling again for the nomination. Clarence Goins Jr. of Fayetteville is also in the race, which has centered on levels of support for President Donald Trump and connections to Christian conservatives.
The winner will take on the Democratic primary winner between Dan McCready and Christian Cano, both of Charlotte. Cano lost to Pittenger in the 2016 general election. McCready already has raised $1.9 million for his campaign with an eye to the fall.
In the coastal 3rd District, 12-term Rep. Walter Jones of Farmville says this is his last re-election bid. But 2016 primary rival Phil Law and Craven County Commissioner Scott Dacey say Jones has forgotten the district as a GOP maverick voting against bills Trump wanted. No Democrat is running, so the primary winner is a likely November shoo-in.
— In the 2nd District, GOP Rep. George Holding faces a primary challenge from Allen Chesser of Louisburg. Democrats are fielding three candidates, including Linda Coleman, a two-time candidate for lieutenant governor. Ken Romley of Raleigh and Wendy Ella May of Micro also are running.
— In the 4th District, Democratic Rep. David Price has two challengers in Michelle Laws of Durham and Richard Watkins of Chapel Hill. Libertarians also have a primary between Barbara Howe of Oxford and Scerry Perry Whitlock of Garner. The winners join Republican Steve Von Loor in November.
— In the 5th District, Rep. Virginia Foxx is running against Cortland Meader Jr. of Mocksville and Dillon Gentry of Banner Elk in the Republican primary. The Democratic primary pits Winston-Salem City Council member DD Adams against Winston-Salem teacher Jenny Marshall.
— In the 6th District, Democrats Ryan Watts of Burlington and Gerald Wong of Greensboro are running for the nomination to challenge GOP Rep. Mark Walker, who has no primary. Walker is chairman of the Republican Study Committee caucus.
— In the 7th District, Carolina Beach physician Kyle Horton and Goldsboro businessman Grayson Parker are in the Democratic primary to challenge Republican Rep. David Rouzer, already the GOP nominee.
— In the 8th District, Harrisburg businessman Scott Huffman, former Moore County elected official Frank McNeill and Marc Tiegel of Concord are in the Democratic primary. The winner will face GOP Rep. Richard Hudson .
— In the 10th District, GOP Rep. Patrick McHenry — chief deputy whip in the House Republican leadership — has five challengers: Ira Roberts of Hickory, Jeff Gregory of Shelby, Gina Collias of Kings Mountain, Albert Lee Wiley of Salter Path and Seth Blankenship of Swannanoa. David Wilson Brown is the Democratic nominee.
— In the 11th District, Rep. Mark Meadows , chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, is running against Chuck Archerd of Asheville in the Republican primary. Democratic primary candidates are Phillip Price of Nebo, Steve Woodsmall of Brevard and Scott Donaldson of Hendersonville.
— In the 12th District, Rep. Alma Adams has three Democratic primary challengers: Gabe Ortiz and Patrick Register, both of Charlotte, and Asheville City Council member Keith Young. The Republican primary candidates are Carl Persson of Charlotte, Paul Wright of Mount Olive and Paul Bonham of Dallas.
— In the 13th District, Kathy Manning and Adam Coker, both of Greensboro, seek the Democratic nomination to challenge first-term GOP Rep. Ted Budd.
Libertarians also have fall candidates for the 2nd, 9th, 11th and 13th Districts.
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