Several incumbents lose N. Carolina legislative primaries

Air Force veteran and former Fayetteville City Council member Val Applewhite speaks before introducing Jill Biden in the backyard of Applewhite’s Fayetteville, N.C., home on Oct. 6, 2020. (Andrew Craft/The Fayetteville Observer via AP)

Several state legislators won’t be returning to the North Carolina General Assembly next January after primary losses, while former lawmakers had mixed results in trying to get back to the House or Senate. 

Seven incumbents — four Republicans and two Democrats — lost in Tuesday’s primaries for seats in their current chamber. Four of those sitting Republicans ran against fellow GOP incumbents who lived in the same district due to redistricting changes

Two Senate Democrats — Sens. Kirk deViere and Ernestine Bazemore — and Republican Rep. Pat Hurley — also lost primaries for their seats. 

In addition, two current House members — Democrat Raymond Smith and Republican Lee Zachary — failed to win Senate primaries. Each attempted to make the jump to the Senate after facing similar “double-bunkings” with House colleagues in their districts because of remapped boundaries. 

Among the four primaries featuring two Republican incumbents, Sen. Ralph Hise of Mitchell County narrowly defeated Sen. Deanna Ballard of Watauga County in the 47th District. Each hold significant leadership jobs in the Republican majority — Hise is a Senate Finance Committee co-chairman, while Ballard co-chairs a pair of education committees.

In the northeast, Sen. Norm Sanderson of Pamlico County defeated Sen. Bill Steinburg of Chowan County. They were running for same 1st District seat. 

In the House, veteran Rep, Jamie Boles of Moore County lost to first-term Rep. Ben Moss of Richmond County in the Sandhills-area 26th District. And Rep. Jake Johnson of Polk County handily defeated Rep. David Rogers of Rutherford County for the 113th District seat.

DeViere lost to Fayetteville City Council member Val Applewhite in a three-way race for the 19th Senate District. Applewhite benefitted from an endorsement by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. The governor and other Democrats had been unhappy with deViere for siding at times with Senate Republicans on key legislation, including the 2021 state budget. 

Bazemore, a first-term senator from Bertie County, lost to Valerie Jordan of Warren County in a 3rd Senate District primary. The winner will take on Dare County Republican Bobby Hanig, a current House member, in November. 

And Hurley, an eight-term House member, lost to Randolph County school board member Brian Biggs in the 70th District Republican primary. 

Sitting legislators who won contested primaries for seats in the opposite chamber included three Democrats: Reps. Graig Meyer of Orange County and Kandie Smith of Pitt County and Sen. Sarah Crawford of Wake County. Meyer and Smith won Senate primaries, while Crawford won a House primary. 

But Zachary, from Yadkin County, finished third in a four-candidate race for a northwestern Senate seat. and Raymond Smith, a House member from Wayne County, lost to sitting Sen. Toby Fitch of Wilson County in a Democratic primary for Fitch’s Senate seat. 

Former state legislators who advanced in legislative primaries for their old chamber include ex-Sen. Buck Newton, a Wilson County Republican; former GOP Rep. Stephen Ross of Alamance County; and former Democratic Reps. Elmer Floyd of Cumberland County and Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County. Newton will take on Fitch in November. And former Sen. Wesley Meredith of Cumberland County, who won a Republican primary on Tuesday, takes on Applewhite in November. 

Ex-lawmakers who lost Tuesday primaries include former Sens. Eddie Gallimore and Tony Moore and Rep. Scott Stone, all of whom are Republicans. Shirley Randleman, a former House and Senate member, failed to win a Senate primary that also featured Zachary.

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