by Bob Geary
On the Republican side (Updated:
* Renee Ellmers wins the nomination in congressional District 2 — she'll run against U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge; no question, Ellmers, a registered nurse and part of a family health business, was the strongest of the three GOp contenders against Etheridge, and can take him on over health care reform. On the other hand, Etheridge came out strongly for reform and seems ready to defend it against Tea Party-style attacks. A sometimes diffident Democrat, Etheridge this time sounds like he'll come out fighting against the right-wing Republican Ellmers, setting up a confrontation that could draw national attention.
* in congressional District 4 (Democrat David Price's seat), B.J. Lawson defeated Frank Roche narrowly, 46-41 percent. An arch-conservative, Lawson barely prevailed over the more moderate-seeming Roche, leaving him in a very weak position against an entrenched incumbent in a heavily Democratic district. Don't expect to see GOP money flowing to Lawson. (Do expect to see it headed Ellmers's way.)
* in congressional District 13 (Democrat Brad Miller's seat), it's a runoff between Bill Randall and Bernie Reeves; they're separated by about 150 votes, with Randall ahead. But Dan Huffman finished a close third with 27 percent in a four-way race. Good news for Miller, who got to run two years ago against one of the GOP's nuttiest pols, Vernon Robinson, one of a handful of black Republicans nationally. Randall, though not quite as bombastic, is also black. Reeves, not black; bombastic.
In the Wake Commissioners GOP primary (District 2, held by Democrat Lindy Brown), former Garner Councilman Phil Matthews won with 47 percent of the vote to former Commissioner Phil Jeffrey's 35 percent; Champ Claris was a badly beaten third. Matthews could be trouble for Brown, who'll be joined on a four-candidate Democratic slate by three other Democrats who'll be opposed to the new Wake school board majority — but the majority is popular in Garner, where both Brown and Matthews are based.
We see that Republican voters followed the Indy's endorsements in the two state House district primaries — well done, GOP'ers. (We do try to help you pick your best candidates, though you may think we're really out to sandbag them.)
In House District 33, Paul Terrell won by a 2-to-1 margin over Susan Leventhal; but he got just 600 votes total in a district that is mightily Democratic.
House District 41, on the other hand, is a true swing district (formerly held by Russell Capps, the right-wing's hero; then held by Ty Harrell, beloved by the left until he resigned in the midst of an investigation of his campaign spending (note: revised by the writer to remove an unwarranted remark about Harrell, whose case at the State Board of Elections remains unresolved). So the appointed incumbent is veteran elections reformer Chris Heagarty, a Democrat. And the Republican challenger, by a narrow margin: Morrisville Council member Tom Murry, who defeated former state GOP party official Todd Batchelor by about 200 votes.
Of interest in Wake County: The contested Democratic U.S. Senate primary drew just 35,600 votes. The ho-hum Republican primary for U.S. Senate drew 28,900 votes, augmented by three not-that-interesting congressional primaries in Waked.
Point is: VERY close election coming in November countywide.